The job started with a water leak — and ended in the total remodel of the 1,800-square-foot Malibu town house. Jackie Gould, who had lived in the beachfront home since 1976, called Erla Dögg Ingjaldsdóttir and Tryggvi Thorsteinsson, the husband-and-wife principals of the Santa Monica architecture firm Minarc, and asked them to help with a little repair work related to the leak. "Mold-proof me," she remembered saying. But it wasn't so easy.
"The place was basically taken over by mold — the whole building, including the furniture," Thorsteinsson said. Everything had to go — the carpet, the sofa, the walls. Once specialists eradicated the mold, Ingjaldsdóttir and Thorsteinsson made sure it would not creep back in by erecting a double wall between Gould and her neighbor.
With her house an empty shell, Gould and the architects worked together to create a comfortable and modern home filled with natural light and a sea breeze.
"There's no paint on the walls," Ingjaldsdóttir said. "No carpet."
Water runs through thin, black pipes heated by the sun on the roof and is routed to warm ceramic floor tiles. Ocean-facing doors and an interior courtyard ventilate the town house while eliminating the need to open back windows, which face noisy Pacific Coast Highway. Ceiling fans offer backup ventilation, LED lighting is installed throughout and the home is wrapped in top-quality insulation. Durable ipe wood and rust-resistant stainless steel are used on the balconies.
But the project doesn't look like a cold experiment in modern design. Instead it's a pleasant and personal home where walnut and maple help to warm and unify the rooms of the house. It's where periwinkle, a nod to the beach setting and Gould's favorite color, shows up in the kitchen back splash and in a recycled glass countertop. It's where Gould's large collection of souvenirs from her travels can shine rather than clutter — a backdrop that she summed up well: "Simple and elegant."