The Home on Greenbluff

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Provençe’s traditional stone farmhouse architecture was the inspiration for a handcrafted Topanga home that exemplifies the Canyon’s independant and creative spirit.

Longtime Topanga residents Clive and Karen Christie built their one-of-a-kind home for the ages. Clive is a master stone mason, Karen an artist. They designed their French Provençal-inspired stone villa to withstand fire and earthquake, but also to be an organic part of the Topanga mountainside it is built on, embracing its views and welcoming visitors, wildlife, and the light and color of the passing seasons.

Karen Christie describes it as “a home with intention,” a place “where people can come and reconnect to their true self.”

This hilltop retreat has thick stone walls that keep the home’s occupants cool in summer and warm in winter. Shells, bones, beads and pebbles decorate the mortar that holds the stones in place, and handmade tiles, decorated with the paw prints of a much-loved pet, horses, flowers, and geometric patterns, tell the stories of the family that built this home from the ground up and have filled it with love and life for nearly 40 years.

Clive used heavy terra cotta tiles salvaged from the demolition of Howard Hughes’ Hancock Park mansion for the roof. The main staircase is built out of surplus marble from the Getty Center. Karen has added spirals, crosses, and stars to the walkways and walls. They compliment the stones of the house. Arched, blue-painted doors and blue-framed European-style windows add a flash of color. So does the garden full of Provençal garden flowers and fruit trees.  An herb garden and vegetable beds are tucked into a kitchen garden, feet from the kitchen door. Almost every room has its own patio space, with flowers and fountains. Throughout the house and garden, Clive’s stonework is enlivened with Karen’s mosaic patterns, found objects, and her handmade tiles.

“We couldn’t afford the tiles we wanted so we bought a kiln and I took a class,” Karen Christie told the Messenger Mountain News. The walls of her home display her paintings of horses, dogs, children, flowers, the house. Visitors are greeted on arrival by a massive gate she designed, the iron forming the shapes of running horses.

Horses are an integral part of the home. The stables are open to the back garden. Karen’s horses have always had free rein, a decomposed granite path from the stables to the paddock was built below the terrace and swimming pool, so the horses could be part of family activities.

“We built this house to live in, to be here,” Karen said. The couple raised their daughter, musician Nikki Christie, in the house. They’ve lived in it for 33 years but are now ready to move on. Karen envisions a new life in the French countryside, saying that she knows the house they are leaving behind will continue to be a retreat and place of peace and tranquility for whoever owns it next.

Topanga Realtor Nancy Nelms is representing the property for the Christies. “Clive told me that stone villas are handed down through the generations in Europe,” Nelms said. “This home was built to last.”

Home is the key word. This house was built to be a home, not just a building. Every inch of it was created with thought, care, and intention.

For more information on the house, contact Nancy Nelms with Snyder Sutton Real Estate at (310) 463-0304.

 

Suzanne Guldimann
Suzanne Guldimann

Suzanne Guldimann is an author, artist, and musician who lives in Malibu and loves the Santa Monica Mountains. She has worked as a journalist reporting on local news and issues for more than a decade, and is the author of nine books of music for the harp. Suzanne's newest book, "Life in Malibu", explores local history and nature. She can be reached at suzanne@messengermountainnews.com

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