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New Wave

Architect Daniel Monti and designer Jamie Bush help a couple transform their tired Malibu beach cottage into a modernist sand castle.

Set on the bluffs of Malibu, against a backdrop of craggy coastline and sandy beach beneath, Russell Kern’s 3,400-square-foot 1979 beach house was in need of a fresh look when he met his now-wife Meryl in March 2011.

Russell, founder and president of KERN, an Omnicom Agency, and his wife enlisted architect Daniel Monti from Modal Design to transform the unremarkable structure into an airy and open contemporary home; Monti tapped designer Jamie Bush to define the aesthetic. “So much contemporary architecture is almost antiseptic,” Bush says. “We tried to take the natural beauty of the sand and the rocky hillside—those irregularities and imperfections—and juxtapose the rough and rustic textures with clean lines and a handmade touch.”

Bush layered natural and industrial materials throughout—cerused gray oak; marble; bronze and silver—to create a subtle fusion of simplicity and warmth. The ripples and reflections from handblown glass fixtures reference the ocean, while Athens Silver travertine planks that extend from the ground-floor living area to the deck outside blur the lines between interior and exterior spaces. “There’s a rhythm and consistent palette that’s reinterpreted throughout the house,” Bush says. “It’s really variations on a theme. Materials and textures are repeated, but in different ways.”

Furnishings strike a balance between clean, geometric lines and more organic pieces such as a free-form, acacia-wood dining table or a marble bench with irregular veining; a 7-foot-long coffee table in whitewashed Douglas fir commissioned from L.A. artist Stefan Bishop reveals old growth rings from reclaimed timber. “There’s an irregularity and a sort of human touch to these pieces,” Bush says. “Rather than having everything manufactured, there is a dialogue that takes place to create a space that’s more personal.” 

Photography by DANIEL COLLOPY.

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