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House Tour: Malibu’s Mesmerizing “New Castle”

In so many ways, the worlds of the filmmaker and architect intersect. Where the filmmaker seeks to foreshadow and create a sense of intrigue on the screen, so does the architect, through the subtle manipulation of sight lines in the built environment.

Director-turned-builder and designer Scott Gillen has mastered this technique to stunning effect, and it’s on full display in his latest residential creation — a newly constructed modern castle he is preparing for a summer 2017 debut on a 360-degree promontory, one of Malibu’s most iconic sites adjacent to Serra Retreat. Sandro Dazzan of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Malibu holds the exclusive listing and calls it “one of Malibu’s most significant new homes to come on the market,” due to the unobstructed views overlooking Malibu Colony, Surfrider Beach and Serra Retreat, and head-on views of the Santa Monica Bay and Catalina Island.


Surrounded by 10-foot tall teak windows, the entrance to the all-teak, 15,000-square-foot main house offers the first moment of mystery. As you look through this solid teak box of glass, you see the wine room and then beyond to the living room and 75-foot elevated infinity pool, with the ocean and Catalina Island off in the distance. The box-within-a-box has the effect of a glass Rubik’s Cube, providing you with the opening scene of this captivating house. You are instantly hooked.


“As a director and a designer, you have to create something that’s not there,” says Gillen, who established his company Unvarnished in 2003 and has since built over 22 homes. “You have to bring a lot of action and energy to a shot that doesn’t move. So much of what you do as a director is controlling the shot. For the New Castle, I want to limit what you see and when you see it. As you move farther into the house, you discover more ‘wow’ moments.”

As soon as you enter through the 10-foot teak pivot door, you feel as if you are being led once more by Gillen’s patient direction. Bright western light floods through the interiors, giving you only a glimmer of what lurks on the other side of the long entry. Would it be … could it be that view again?


Like a captive and curious soul, you follow along, lured into an expansive great room spanning over 5,000 square feet. The resulting experience is nothing short of cinematic, made possible by the absence of upright posts, 13-foot ceilings and walls of glass stretching 120 feet long to reveal uninterrupted sea reaching to the horizon line. Gillen favors such bright, big, open spaces, punctuated by what he calls “invisible walls” — pop-out living areas defined by area rugs.


To that end, every piece of furniture, linen, art and design element has been personally touched and hand-selected by his team to ensure a warm atmosphere.


The kitchen cabinets are a custom-designed creation through Bulthaup. The flooring, rendered in an aged oak, was custom-milled for Unvarnished. All of the interior and exterior doors were custom-designed in teak.


Custom-made furniture and lighting have been placed in the exact way that Gillen wants the future homeowner to live in the spaces. For example, he created a sitting area off to the side in the great room, where he placed two large chairs facing Surfrider Beach and the entire Santa Monica Bay, so “all you want to do is look out at the ocean.”


“Every piece of furniture, every rug and every chair is strategically placed in the home,” says Gillen. “We pay attention to where they are placed in relation to lights, so each space has an ergonomic flow to it. We want it to feel comfortable. It’s like one big set.”

Gillen also pays careful attention to light, making sure to orient rooms to be south-facing.

“You should be making coffee in your kitchen while watching the sun come up,” he says. “And when you’re eating dinner, you should be watching the sun go down.”


He paid similar attention to creating indoor/outdoor connections. In the second-floor master suite, for example, the master bath opens to a spectacular deck. It also offers a spacious master bathroom with a custom, solid black-walnut soaking tub, weighing an impressive 830 pounds, and a shower that rests wide open against a glass door to the deck — so the ocean is never far from your sight.


In the bedroom, Gillen created another sitting/ocean-viewing area with two chairs oriented around an area rug. A junior bedroom suite also has its own water views. Similarly, a stellar drop-down media room opens to the pool, where a serene waterfall flows down next to the deck.


“You should walk into this house and say, ‘I love this house,’” concludes Gillen. “People won’t be able to tell you why they love it. The vibe is just there. My job as a designer — and as a director — is to create seamless transitions across the board. You should not know how you’re being touched. Everything should fall away and be simple.”



Offered for $80 million, the “New Castle” is a mesmerizing vision of design. For more information, contact Sandro Dazzan of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Malibu at 310-435-7556 or  


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House Tour: Malibu’s Mesmerizing “New Castle”

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