Earlier this summer, REFRESH was working on a big project that required we stay out of our client's house until the new wood floors were laid, sanded, stained and sealed. So my husband and I decided to take the family to the westcoast for a quickie vacay before the kid's baseball and ballet schedules kicked in. We chose Malibu for a little Pacific Ocean surf and sun, and of course, I was looking forward to a dose of design, SoCal style. The trip ended up taking me back in time in more ways than one, while also introducing me to new friends and the sights and sounds of this transfixing beach paradise.
A HINT OF HISTORY
The word Malibu is a native Chumash word for “noisy surf,” and that very much came into play when we got to our Airbnb which overlooks the Pacific Ocean. It is known as the "Malibu Dream House," so of course I channeled my inner 8-year-old and pictured my pink plastic multi-level Barbie abode that shared the same name. But this was nothing like that. It's a bright, fresh, mostly white beach home with an enormous patio, carved into the cliffside on the Pacific Coast Highway.
Having this view of the ocean reminded me of growing up on Vancouver Island where you get ocean views almost everywhere you go. California was a common vacation destination since it was a straight shot to drive down the coast and our family did. All six of us boarded a rented motorhome, took a BC Ferry to the mainland, and headed for the border. Once we crossed, we picked up I-5 and drove south through Washington, Oregon and eventually the Golden State where we ended up at a relatives' home in Palm Springs. But before we got there, we "took a trip down memory lane" as my Mum would say. My parents, Murray and Judi began married life living a block off Venice Beach, they hung out in Santa Monica and the Hollywood Hills while my Dad started his career in healthcare as the assistant administrator at LA’s Kaiser Permanente Hospital.
(Fun fact: Mum is 5 months pregnant in these pictures. That baby is now a White House Correspondent!).
TIME TO EXPLORE
Back to 2021 and MY family of four, we always turned to my husband Kirt for the fine tuning of vacation plans. He has a knack for finding cool places to stay so when we pulled into the "Malibu Dream House" I knew he had done it again. Laidback, chill, with amenities, convenience and a beachy Malibu flair. Across the street was a sprawling vintage restaurant called, "Duke's" and down the PCH was an awesome restaurant on a pier jutting into the Pacific called Malibu Farm. The Dream House was also just a two minute drive to Nobu, the restaurant you are almost certain to have a celeb sighting most days of the week. It ended up being the perfect backdrop for a reunion with a friend I hadn't seen in decades, I'll tell you all Jennifer in just a second, but first let's get back to the Dream House.
As I surveyed the decor my son echoed what I was thinking. Van, my sixteen year old, could easily be from Cali given his laid back nature and surfer name, but he's a Philly kid, and he was onto something when he said, "Mom, it looks like you decorated this." I laughed because he was right, there was a lot I might have done the same. I love a fancy chandelier with a casual canvas and if you have a view of the Pacific Ocean, why let the decor inside your home get in it's way? The Dream House provided a soothing vibe without stealing the ocean's show. Plus, it was located next to my new favorite boutique ever. Blue Malibu.
I was dressed for fitness and far from worthy of owner Roxy's finesse when I entered Blue Malibu. I had some time to kill before a family hike in the hills, and I walked in as she was opening and basically fell in love with everything in her tiny charming store, as well as her. She has a HUGE personality and dresses with such flair and fun you can't help but want to be around all of it.Her giant dream catchers, the climbing Mandevilla in the terracotta pots, and some of the most unique clothes I have ever seen make Blue Malibu a mesmerizing visit. Most of her clothes come from Mexico and feature intricate sewing, trendy shapes and beautiful fabrics. I tried on several things, bought them all, and even posed for Roxy in a couple of them. This picture ended up on her insta. Don't judge, remember the whole hiking thing, ha! That fun top has become one of the my favorite things to throw on with a pair of jeans.
REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD
By the end of my time at Blue Malibu, Roxy and I were besties swapping text info and making plans to stay in touch and meet again. Before I left, she helped me pick the perfect top to meet Jennifer at Nobu later that night. Kirt decided we should divide and conquer rather than leave the kids alone, so he took them to Duke's for a bite and reluctantly, I ended up going solo. It was Wednesday night, but Nobu was packed, complete with paparazzi on standby at the front door to catch any A-listers that might show up. Jennifer and her husband are tight with the Nobu peeps so even though there were no reservations available, we suddenly had an ocean side table at 8. Her recommendation for wardrobe? "Anything from full regalia to jeans and sneakers." Roxy's blouse put me somewhere in between and I was ready to rock it.
When I saw Jen for the first time in more than three decades, I knew it was her right away and our long awaited reunion was well worth the wait. NOTHING HAD CHANGED! We picked up where we left off, literally. I remember the last time I saw her. It was at her graduation and I had gone with a friend as his plus 1. I waved goodbye to her as she stood looking gorgeous in her chartreuse gown and then 33 years passed. We had SO much to talk about, so much to catch up on, and so many hilarious stories to swap. We took pictures, and joked how it used to be a whole lot easier to get a good one. Then we ate our way through three hours, tasting some of the most delicious food I have ever tasted, all the while listening to the rushing ocean underneath us, surrounded by the moody chic decor that is Nobu Malibu. The evening was one I have revisited many times since and everything about it was worth the years long wait. As we were leaving Jen took this picture of me posing with her husband, Steve under the Nobu sign. (Typical tourist, *eye roll*).
THAT'S A WRAP
With the Nobu night in the rearview, we took in the sights and sounds of everything from Hollywood to Venice Beach , Santa Monica to Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills to the batting cages at UCLA's ballpark. For me, taking in the palms, gardens and California decor was as fun as visiting any tourist attraction. I got my fix, in the best of ways-- having my family in tow, and being with friends, old and new, along the way.
I want to hear about your favorite travel spot!
A great trip you've taken in the past, one you are planning on for this summer, or a travel destination on your bucket list! On mine: Kenya.
See you in the comments below...