Of the roughly 48 years that Larry Taylor has lived on the beach in Malibu, California, he spent some 35 of them coveting a house down the street. 

“My original house is about 17 houses further west,” says Taylor, who is the founder and chief executive officer of Malibu-based Christina real estate investors. “I knew the lot, which was probably the best lot on the entire stretch of Malibu Colony Beach,” he says, referring to a favoured strip of land just north of Los Angeles. 

He also knew the architect, the modernist Jerrold Lomax, and was even friendly with the house's owner, an attorney for a real estate developer who had commissioned it in the 1970s. “I watched the house being built,” Taylor says. “And when it was done, it was just spectacular.” 

Every day, he would pass it. “I would say to whoever happened to be with me — or to myself — 'God, I love that house'.”

His moment came in 2012. After the original owner died, the heirs put it up for sale. Together with his wife Christine, Taylor purchased the house and spent seven years restoring and updating it. In 2019, they moved in.

“It’s everything that I ever wanted,” Taylor says, “and I got it.”

But it turns out that it’s not everything his children want. He still has his old place down the beach, and the kids are very attached to that house. “They’re, like, ‘Dad, you can never sell that house',” he says. “But as far as selling this house — my dream house — they say: 'It’s not the same'. It’s, like … ‘What do you mean it’s not the same?’”

Eventually, he caved and put his newly renovated house on the market, listing it for US$35 million with Marcus Beck of Sotheby’s International Realty-Malibu Brokerage. “Basically, that was the decision, which is fine,” Taylor says. “We’re blessed to be able to have that kind of a choice when other people have many, many more struggles in life.”

An architectural legacy

After closing on the property, Taylor looked for Lomax. “I found him at the age of 85, still practicing architecture in Carmel in northern California,” Taylor says. Lomax agreed to come see the house four decades after he’d left it.

“He walked through the front door, and tears were running down his face,” says Taylor. “The house had remained untouched from the day that he had designed it.”

This wasn’t altogether a good thing. With 40 years of hindsight, the architect decided that he’d like to make some tweaks. A wall for the stairwell blocked views of the ocean, and a bathroom had been placed in the center of the house, rather than at the front. Lomax reworked some of the layout as well, turning the top floor of the building into a giant primary suite with a gym and vast bathroom; three bedrooms were moved to the first floor.  It’s now a four-bedroom, six-bath, roughly 4,600-square-foot home.

A year into the project, however, Taylor got bad news from Lomax: The architect had advanced cancer and was already in hospice. A protege, architect Zoltan Pali, was willing to finish the project. Lomax walked Pali through the drawings and modifications and told Taylor that Pali was "going to get it right, the way that I envisioned it", Taylor recalls.

The footprint stayed the same — as did the facade, for the most part. (Stucco was replaced with smooth cement.) The house was designed with a skylight that cut through the centre of the house, which was “a brilliant idea to bring light in”, Taylor says. “But because it’s a two-storey house, the light only really came in through the top floor and a little bit through the staircase.” The fix entailed a new glass and aluminium staircase that runs from the roof to the ground level, allowing light to stream through a centre well.

Every window was replaced, as were the electrical, plumbing, HVAC and mechanical systems. “It was all about figuring out how you can get these systems into the existing shell and core, which architecturally was being preserved,” he says.

What’s inside

Taylor is a car collector, as was the previous owner, and the house was always designed to show them off. “The garage is more of a showroom,” Taylor says. “Once you enter the house, you actually enter through the garage.” It can showcase four cars at a time — currently including a 1985 Ferrari 308 Spyder and an orange 1969 Porsche 911.

The doors were replaced with stainless steel ones painted black with a soundproofing core in the middle. “The problem with roll-up doors is they’ve never made them quiet,” he says. A complicated weight and pulley system opens and closes them. “They’re silent,” he continues, “but they weigh thousands of pounds.”

But the space could be a lot of different things, he says: “You would have a beautiful room for parties.” 

The downstairs bedrooms are in the core of the building. The front of the house, which faces the beach, is an open-plan living and dining area with a large kitchen. All of the furniture, designed for the house by James Radin, is included in the purchase price.

The upstairs suite includes a bedroom that opens onto a deck overlooking the ocean. That view, Taylor says, “is crazy".

"When the moon is coming in and reflecting over the ocean water, it’s, like: ‘Wow. I’m the luckiest person on the planet'.”

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