We are renovating! Take a peek inside our beach house inspiration

Last month, I gave you a little tour of the beach house as it is now. The fact that it’s already so special to our family makes this renovation project even more fun – we can’t wait to bring its full potential to life. So today I’m going to share a sneak peek at exactly what we’re up to at #ZumaBeachHouse!

For the past few months, Adam and I have been spending our nights and weekends working on this project – it’s really like a second full-time job (but instead of getting paid to do it, we’re paying a lot to do it, haha) – and it’s been hard to keep all that initial planning a secret when there was so much I wanted to share (and ask for your input!) Now it’s time to make up for lost time, because although we have understood the vision and the architectural plans quite well, there are still so many decisions to be made. Tiling, faucets, colors of the exterior cladding, windows… we are going to get into the good stuff.

But before I get into the details, I wanted to zoom out and share our big picture so you know where we’re headed. Don’t worry, we’ll get into the design details, but before we do…here are 7 things I’m dying to share about our Zuma Beach House inspiration.

image above: Montauk property designed by Vanessa Alexander, photo by Chris Mottalini

image of kristen kilpatrick at the surfrider hotel in malibu

I call it, “Minimalist Beach Ranch” style

(And yes, that’s subject to change, lol.) Our architect, Doug Burdge, designed the new plans to make the most of the natural surroundings, whether it’s changing the orientation to see the full view of the ocean, or add protection to block the wind. To create the relaxed and warm aesthetic we envision for Zuma Beach House, we will address a lack of ornamentation to create a sense of calm. This means decorative details will be kept to a minimum, allowing the clean lines and lush nature outside the windows to take center stage.

In keeping with the ranch-style qualities of the current home, we stick to a one-story layout with an open floor plan, large windows, and sliding glass doors. And the “beach” comes into play with white walls, vaulted linen ceilings, plank cabinetry, and an overall laid-back vibe.

No wonder I’m embracing a bit of minimalism here like I do with most of my design projects. My goal is to include just enough interesting elements and thoughtful details while avoiding anything too trendy – I want it to feel timeless. Architecture and design will create a simple canvas, and then we can layer interest with furniture, textiles, and decorative details.

image of teal thomsen at ashley merrill’s beach house

We keep the original footprint and add to it

The current home is a 1950s ranch-style bungalow with a low horizontal ceiling and a somewhat odd floor plan that makes guests feel lost even though it’s only 1,400 square feet. We will retain the original footprint of the current home, but rework the existing interior rooms so the layout makes more sense. We will also be adding a large 1000 square foot room (a large open kitchen with living space) as well as vaulting all the ceilings to keep it airy and open. The guest house will retain its footprint, but we will renovate the interior to make it a small but chic one-bedroom loft in boutique style.

image by teal thomsen at ashley merrill’s beach house

The goal? Turn it into a peaceful retreat

When designing a space, I start by thinking about how I want feel when I’m there. My dream is for Zuma Beach House to be full of warm energy, a joyful and soulful home that lets the beauty of nature take center stage. Yes, I want it to be interesting and beautifully designed, but what’s even more important to me is that we create a relaxing, light, airy and intentional space – the kind of home you want to curl up in and stay in. one moment.

The plan is to not have a lot of surfaces to house clutter, instead embracing negative space, even leaving a bare wall here and there. I want it to feel like a real retreat, a deep breath of fresh air that allows me to reset myself every time I’m there. This means few decorative details, clean lines and negative space that allows me to breathe. A real retreat.

picture of sam frost at jodie fried

Materials are inspired by nature

Since the beginning of our design process, I have focused on using materials taken from nature. I want each element to be simple and slightly rustic, as close to its natural state as possible. Outside we use wood cladding and stacked stone. Inside, warm wood cabinetry and floors sit alongside stone countertops and earthy clay tiles.

My favorite part of the current property is the sunlight that floods every room, so letting in plenty of natural light through large windows and doors is a top priority. We plan to use coated doors with wooden interior frames.

picture of sam frost at jodie fried

Comfort reigns supreme

At this point in my life, I want to be comfortable all the time, and I want everyone who walks into our house to feel instantly comfortable. Everything in the house should make us happy – it will be full of meaningful rooms that we love and that help create family memories.

My plan is to create comfort through lots of soft textures and materials, avoiding overly sculptural or hard-lined furniture. We’re incorporating soft ambient light that will make every room feel like a cocoon (more on our lighting plan to come… I still have some big decisions to make.)

Let’s talk about fireplaces, because few things make me more comfortable than curling up in front of a fire for the evening (especially on a chilly evening, which is pretty much every night in Malibu.) When we have built our home in Austin, our architect originally included a fireplace in the master bedroom. We cut it due to budget constraints, and I’ve blamed myself ever since. When we started creating our “must have” wish list for this home, I knew that if we could rock it, a fireplace in the bedroom would bring so much joy and comfort to our lives every night we were there. .

image above: Montauk property designed by Vanessa Alexander, photo by Chris Mottalini

A neutral color scheme will create expansion

No surprise here, but I’m happiest with a neutral palette and learned that there’s no point in trying to fight it. Plus, keeping the palette light and neutral tones will help the home feel larger than it actually is. When the main house is finished it will be 2500 square feet, and my vision is that it will feel much bigger. We design the floor plan to be as open as possible – the vaulted ceilings, open living space, natural light and muted palette will create that feeling of airiness that I love.

image above: Montauk property designed by Vanessa Alexander, photo by Chris Mottalini

It’s about living inside and outside

The only downside to having so many windows and doors is that it doesn’t leave much room for hanging artwork! But I’m okay with that since they’re going to frame the beautiful eucalyptus trees, Santa Monica Mountains, and crashing waves that are “nature’s art” all around us. Doug designed the house to completely open to the outdoors, blurring the lines between indoors and outdoors. When we’re in Malibu, we treat the backyard like our living room, working, playing, eating, and exercising outside whenever we get the chance. In the new house, I imagine the doors and windows open all the time, the nights spent around the hearth, barefoot all over the property, picking lemons and avocados from the tree outside the kitchen – basically, living outdoors as much as possible.


If you’re still reading, I’m shocked that you stuck with me so far, but thank you for your attention! Drop any questions you have about #ZumaBeachHouse in the comments and sign up here if you’d like to receive house updates straight to your inbox. More updates soon!

Comments are closed.