Fall In Love With This Chic, Minimal Malibu Beach House
You can almost smell the salty sea breeze.
Ashley Merrill takes her time at home seriously. Step off the dunes of Malibu, and that's where you'll find the founder of luxe loungewear brand Lunya.
It's here, where Merrill adapts that same refined and refreshing brand ethos, into her beautiful beachfront home.
"This is where I spend time with those that I love. Creating a home that feels like an escape from the hustle of the day is key," explains the entrepreneur. "I try to create a space that makes me feel like I'm at my best, in the same way I try to show up with sleepwear that makes me feel confident and comfortable. I want to be relaxed and bring my best self home."
Built with the sole purpose of showcasing that view — think boundless horizon line and lapping waves — the Merrill's home-away-from-home certainly isn't your average beach house.
Step inside, and you'll soon be awash with pure zen, something Merrill admits she's proud to have achieved. Wide open glass panes and sliding doors allow the salty sea air to breeze on in, while the soft, white oak panelling adheres to an off-duty look and feel. Throughout the expansive living areas, chic, linen slipcovered sofas hold pride of place, as if to suggestively say "relax, take a seat — you're on vacay. And if you spill anything, it won't be the end of the world."
"Home time is my favorite time of day," Merrill emphatically explains. "Lunya and my love of decor are a testament to that. My modern, minimal aesthetic runs through my home decor and sleepwear, because I want the environment to support a clear mind and organized thoughts. When I have fewer things, it allows me to focus on what's important."
A true disciple to the minimalism school of thought, Merrill's home evokes just that — a clarity of design, and a clean, uncluttered sense of confidence. There's no unnecessary "stuff" strewn about, piles of things quietly piling up on the open shelving, or gobbling up counter space. Merrill's mantra is about as minimal as it gets.
"This house has a lot of oversized communal rooms and that required pieces at a super large scale," she adds.
"I found modular sofas (sourced via Living Divani) to be a great way to handle this, and it allowed me to create something very specific to our needs. I also created a patchwork rug, it's a great way to get a huge rug, at less cost. I found a bunch of kilims and had them sewn together — this is a great trick for large or oddly sized spaces. I wanted the house to be super white, but I knew that would have its challenges with kids. Now if there's a spill, I won't need to replace the whole rug."
Despite the plush, white-linen aesthetic, Merrill admits the reality of beach house living requires a somewhat more laidback sensibility. As a mom of two, the designer says sticky fingers and the occasional mishap come with the territory, something she's cleverly worked into her decorating approach.
"I wanted function — but it had to be beautiful," she explains. "Having young kids and hosting family at the beach typically means a lot of mess. I ended up using outdoor furniture, inside, and slipcovers everywhere. Red wine, blueberries, popsicles? No problem. This is a home for hanging out and chilling," Merrill adds. "Because we don't have much stuff, it doesn't get super messy outside of the family and play rooms. This allows me to relax and let my shoulders drop a bit — the reality is, it's a beach house, so you have to accept that you are going to have a little sand under your feet... even when you're inside."
From the multitude of living spaces to the crisp, open-plan kitchen, there's an ease of design throughout. Merrill, who shares her home-away-from-home with her husband, Marc, the family dog, Beast, and two young children, clearly embraces the restorative properties that come with escaping every once and awhile to the ocean. Upstairs, the waves are still close enough to count — while a contemporary, custom linen-clad bed, and organic open shelving reinforce the harmonious vibe. "I love to lay in bed and open the doors on the balcony, and let the beach air wash over us," says Merrill.
"There is a little hideaway underneath the house — complete with a swing, for the kids — and depending on the tide, we get our own little private beach for a few hours a day. It's also where we stash our paddle boards, our favorite activity for when the water is calm."
Calm is something the Lunya founder has made a conscious effort to celebrate, and preserve. Only the molten, metallic bathtub in the master bathroom, and the eclectic artworks dotted throughout disturb the white-wash peace. "We bought the house because we loved how it brought the outside in, with the big glass sliding doors, and we love how it lends itself to communal entertainment, with its joint spaces."
"The architecture is oriented around the beach — making it the focal point and activity of the home. From a design perspective, the space is minimal and modern, as is my personal style, but with an airy, beachy look. Pops of color in the art throughout, make the house feel more playful. Being a second home, I felt like I could have a bit more fun and experiment with my art selection."
Neighboring the family's dining table, a blue nude from a series entitled Bathers, by New York-based artist Piero Passacantando (sourced via Uprise Art) immediately draws you in, providing a vibrant pop of color amongst the gallery white walls. In the entrance, a striking piece by Los Angeles textile artist, Nike Schroeder, showcases Merrill's penchant for unique pieces — "It's my favorite," she admits.
Merrill also credits the large, mid-century table — a custom creation — as the focal point for her family. "The oversized table was a must," she says.
"We bought the home with the sole purpose of it being a place where our family can escape, and spend quality time together — without having to travel too far. What better place to do that than over a meal? The table really now serves as the hub of the home."
Situated around the custom table, vintage Danish dining chairs by Ostergaard enhance the sleek, mid-century lines.
White oak kitchen shelving, visible from the dining table, houses little more than a series of carefully stacked, artfully spaced, white Heath Ceramics.
Inside the kids' room, stacked bunk beds by Oeuf, nautical decor, and a light, patterned area rug by Caroline Z Hurley creates a casual, calming atmosphere, while a second bedroom opts for a more minimal style code, accented only by artwork, mirroring the rest of the home.
"The multipurpose living area and scale, I love, because the balance came together really well, and because each piece feels special," she says. "The vintage chaise is hands down one of my favorite furniture pieces and the kitchen chairs I love, because of the indigo cloth seats. That was an idea I came up with last minute, and it's turned out to be one of my favorite elements."
Upstairs, the couple's bedroom is no exception to the off-duty, beachfront aesthetic.
Fewer, better things, bask in the Malibu seaside glow — a custom bed, modern triptych by Karina Bania, and a pair of vintage slotted armchairs, and very little else, are perfectly situated to enjoy the view. The master bathroom, which also leads out on to a wraparound balcony, is equipped with a polished cast iron bateau bathtub, enhancing the zen that much more.
Merrill admits that when it comes keeping her home as clutter-free and as relaxing as possible, it all comes back to the beach. "It's the art and the entertainment," she explains. "The whole house, the decor — it's all about framing and highlighting the natural beauty, right outside."