“Every Stone Tells a Story”—How I’m Incorporating Natural Design Elements in Our Malibu Beach House

Stone is among the most grounding and calming elements in a home. It is also one of the most historical, with roots dating back to the earliest days of civilization. Over centuries, its gravitas, texture, and earthiness have remained unparalleled, which is why stone continues to play a prominent role in interior design today. These characteristics are what inspired me to turn to stone to elevate key areas of our Malibu renovation.

Working with Eldorado Stone—the iconic brand revered for its wide range of stone and brick veneer products—our plans include statement walls on our modernized beach bungalow’s exterior. The home’s serene minimalism will be balanced by the timeless aesthetic that only stone can provide. The result will be a fluid beauty from the outside in. There are floor-to-ceiling windows and large glass doors throughout, so these exterior walls will feel almost like part of the interior design. You’ll see them through the glass from every vantage point.

A Global Inspiration

I looked to incorporate stone after being inspired by its prominence in Spanish and Italian country houses and was impressed by the elevated quality and natural look of Eldorado Stone’s collection. “We pull samples from every corner of the globe and follow a detailed, rigorous process to decide which materials have the strongest potential to add to our portfolio of products,” says Sarah Lograsso, director of portfolio management for Eldorado Stone.

The company’s craftspeople hand-sort through natural rocks, choosing stones of pristine shape, size, and detail. From there, they design special molds from which to create natural-looking manufactured stone pieces. They call to mind all the walls I’ve been pinning from country homes throughout Europe. 

country rubble eldorado stone

In the Details 

An affinity for perfection is something that Eldorado Stone and I have in common. This home is all about the clean lines and simplicity of materials, so it’s important that every element be thoughtfully selected. From Eldorado’s vast collection, I’m leaning toward Country Rubble, a rough-faced stone that harks back to simplistic European dwellings, in either the gray-toned Palermo or neutral Bella.

I was drawn to the rustic edges, rich texture, and natural color palettes of each, which are authentic stone attributes Eldorado celebrates. “Stone is also very textural and tactile, which lends some additional richness in terms of visual appeal,” says Lograsso. 

An affinity for perfection is something that Eldorado Stone and I have in common.

blance facade eldorado stone

All Together

The design-minded stone exterior will lend a timelessness juxtaposed with the home’s contemporary design, Scandinavian-inspired timber cladding, and rustic corrugated metal roof. I think of the mix of elements as unexpected yet simple. Ultimately, the finished blend will be cohesive with the coastal landscape and a beautiful homage to an ancient aesthetic.

“We like to say that stone tells a story,” says Lograsso. “It’s one of the most prolific design materials on the planet, and it has been for thousands of years.” 

How I’m Designing Our Beach House Bathroom to Be (Basically) A Spa

A truly inviting home designates areas for relaxation. And, at its best, a well-designed bathroom can be a  haven—a place to enjoy solitude and rest. As we gear up to begin our 1950s beach house renovation, I’m focused on transforming the bathrooms from purely utilitarian to serene and spa-like. Here’s how I’m incorporating the impeccable design and efficiency of Duravit products to bring my vision to life.

inspiration image: Molly Madfis’ bathroom

Ease and Efficiency

It’s no secret that I love organic, timeless aesthetics, which I’m weaving into the entire renovation. I also love efficiency elements that deliver utility with ease. This mix drew me to Duravit, a revered company that has been bringing bathroom solutions—from toilets to bathtubs to faucets—to homes, hotels, offices, restaurants, and more for over 200 years. The collections convey a timeless quality and deliver a functionality that works seamlessly and adds a sense of ease to everyday life.

Prioritizing Wellness

Duravit’s vision is to enhance daily life through outstanding design and smart functionality. “Our days begin and end in the bathroom, so this space is integral to how we feel,” points out Kerry Rudd, VP of Sales – National Wholesale for Duravit USA. “Duravit looks at the bathroom as the centerpiece of the home—a place to unwind, recharge, and spend some time alone,” adds Rudd. “Whether it is a product such as our SensoWash shower toilet, or one of our numerous bathtub options, Duravit upgrades our customers every day.”

For the primary bath and powder room, I chose the Sensowash toilets from Duravit’s Soleil by Starck, a sea-inspired collection designed by revered French architect and designer Phillipe Starck. Completing the look will be the statement-making Soleil By Starck freestanding bathtub. The overall aesthetic is timeless, pulling inspiration from the natural world.

inspiration image: Ashley Robertson’s bathroom

Making A Statement

For Duravit, every detail is critical, from the curve of a faucet to the clean lines of a bathtub. This attention to detail is why the company has garnered some of the most acclaimed international design awards on an annual basis, notes Rudd. It’s also a reason why I trust not only the unparalleled quality but also the beauty it adds to such critical spaces, the ones we look to for wellness and respite, day after day. It all makes my at-home bathrooms feel like a spa—calming and serene.

This Is One of the Most Impactful Decisions We’ve Made In Designing Our Malibu Beach Home

Nothing influences the feel of a home quite like the materials from which it’s made. So, when it came time for our family to refine the exterior of our Malibu home, we looked to the natural beauty and durability of California redwood, sourced from Humboldt Sawmill, for our coastal property, Sunset’s 2023 Idea House.

Featured inspiration image of Ashley Merrill’s Malibu beach house by Teal Thomsen.

Image by Kristen Kilpatrick

Natural Vibes

There are certain materials I’ve always been drawn to, and they usually come from the earth—stone, wood, linen, and clay. Since wood illuminates the natural raw beauty of coastal California, it was the perfect fit for the home’s exterior. The soul of the house is surf shack vibes, and we knew that a wood-clad exterior would capture the timeless, beachy essence we were after.

The Right Wood

While researching domestic wood species, I was intrigued by the natural beauty and durability of California redwood. We decided it was the right fit after talking to the team at Humboldt Sawmill. They shared details about redwood’s strength and natural resistance to termites and decay, which is a consideration for coastal living. Even more, the purity of the material was compelling. The team at Humboldt Sawmill says that all the redwood and Douglas fir the company offers are completely natural wood products. They’re not derived from plastics or petroleum-based sources, which makes them an ideal fit for the organic environment that Malibu embodies.

When installed, the beauty of the wood is evident, but over time, it will patina to a driftwood gray tone fitting with the aesthetic we’re hoping to obtain. I absolutely love the warm tones of redwood, even more with age. We’re working with our builders to treat the wood so that it develops that beautiful grayed-out color even faster.

Image by Teal Thomsen

Sustainability at Its Core

Choosing materials and methods that best honor the earth has been paramount for our family during the renovation. Given that Humboldt Sawmill is dedicated to such makes the company and its redwood and Douglas fir even more compelling. The timberlands, manufacturing, and distribution operations of
Humboldt Sawmill are certified to the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC® C013133).
Harvest rates for Humboldt Sawmill redwood and Douglas fir are only about 1 percent of the total inventory of trees the company owns, meaning that the company grows significantly more trees than it harvests annually.

Architects, consumers, contractors, and developers can be assured that Humboldt Sawmill redwood and Douglas fir lumber and timbers are produced to the highest possible environmental standards. And because all Humboldt Sawmill redwood and Douglas fir products are manufactured in California, their overall carbon footprint of transporting the wood to our Malibu home location is relatively low compared with materials from farther away.

The most impactful design decisions are usually the ones you agonize over since the final verdict can
completely change a home’s appearance. But the energy spent over choosing Humboldt Sawmill redwood will prove worthwhile for decades and beyond.