The client - a newly married couple - had recently returned from their honeymoon in Greece. They wanted a new house in the Encinal Canyon area of Malibu. Initially it was to be like the dwellings they saw in Greece.
As an architect I consider it my responsibility to the client to offer guidance and perspective when making early design decisions regarding style.
Since this house, being designed and built from the ground up, would in a sense become a celebration of their new life together, I suggested that they consider allowing the design to grow from circumstances as they were in the present.
I pointed out that their property was in Malibu, in the mountains; that those buildings they fell in love with on their honeymoon were built at another time under different conditions for different people living different lives than their own.
They respectfully considered my suggestion, but remained firm in their desire for something more related to their fantasy house. Eventually they wanted something with a southwestern desert flavor, popular at the time.
Although I pointed out that the same objection could apply to any style derived from circumstances different than theirs, they remained firm in their choice. As an architect I respect the fact that the client comes first and proceeded to explore possibilities in that style.
The design needed to include their plans for a new family. Also relevant to the design was the location - the property is nestled in the mountains with a distant ocean view.
The first proposal kept the new house looking and feeling firmly rooted in its mountainous setting and with a low profile. The ocean could be seen from the second floor Master Suite.
The clients decided they wanted ocean views, even though distant, available throughout the house. A second design - the one built - was offered that accomplished that objective.
In order to capture those views the house needed to be high enough. The challenge then was to keep its profile as low as possible while also providing privacy from a nearby house, and, at the same time, informally incorporating the requested southwestern look.
The solution took its cue from pueblo style architecture.
Because it was located in a residential neighborhood I proposed avoiding the kind of glare caused by the light colors common to so much of this style as it gets built here in California. My suggestion was to leave the stucco in its natural gray state. It not only would reduce glare but also achieve an earthiness appropriate to southwestern architecture as well as the surrounding mountains. After careful consideration the client chose the more familiar off-white.