Old wood finds new life in ren­o­vated his­toric ranch

The Palm Beach Post - Residences - - Southern Palm Beach County -

When cre­at­ing the dé­cor for the ren­o­va­tion of a his­toric work­ing ranch that be­came a healt­hand-well­ness re­treat des­ti­na­tion, the own­ers of The Ranch at Live Oak/ Mal­ibu fo­cused on re­cy­cled-wood scaf­fold­ing as their cen­tral build­ing ma­te­rial.

Strong, prac­ti­cal, weath­ered to a beau­ti­ful gray patina, and plen­ti­ful (if you know where to look), these boards suited their vi­sion of an en­vi­ron­ment that is meant to blend into the breath­tak­ing land­scape and to re­lax the spirit of all who visit.

The Ranch is lo­cated in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, three miles above the Pa­cific Ocean, in the Santa Mon­ica Moun­tains. Dur­ing one in­ten­sive week at this lux­ury “boot camp,” I ex­pe­ri­enced the rigor of daily four-hour hikes, core-strength­en­ing work­outs, yoga classes and per­sonal mas­sages.

All that fresh air and ex­er­cise brings on an ap­petite, and the health­ful diet is sur­pris­ingly out­stand­ing. The chef brings a whole new mean­ing to veg­e­tar­ian, gluten- and dairy-free meals. He is a sci­en­tist and chef rolled into one. Ev­ery guest was as­tounded at the fla­vors he was ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing.

Even the most diehard foodie learns some­thing new about the prepa­ra­tion of food in the chef ’s kitchen. (By the way, most of the pro- duce served at The Ranch comes from its own gar­dens.)

In the wel­com­ing style of a Span­ish ha­cienda, the large great room fea­tures over­size couches and chairs, high beamed ceil­ings, and a huge wood-burn­ing fire­place.

The din­ing room is equally grand, with a huge metal ta­ble that seats 14 com­fort­ably and large wrought-iron and glass chan­de­liers. All is white and wood, with that gray scaf­fold­ing run­ning through both spa­ces. Color comes di­rectly from na­ture: lush green plants and the bril­liant blooms of lo­cal flow­ers.

Af­ter a day-long work­out, I looked for­ward to some hours of rest in my pri­vate bed­room. Noth­ing fussy here, ei­ther; just tran­quil shades of gray, linen beige and straw browns to pro­mote re­lax­ation and med­i­ta­tion.

Wher­ever you are at The Ranch, the views of for­est, moun­tains and val­leys bring you back to na­ture at its most heal­ing and in­vig­o­rat­ing.

The space at The Ranch shown here re­sem­bles the setup of a long porch, with walls on three sides and a pro­tec­tive roof. The scaf­fold­ing is in place, but I was drawn to the sim­ple artis­tic touch of dec­o­rat­ing the walls with the same wood planks, though stained and fin­ished to a glossy sheen.

Such a long, large back wall needs some­thing that has an equally strong pres­ence to cre­ate bal­ance. You could achieve this with a row of big lanterns, a metal sculp­ture, or some ar­tis­ti­cally hung pieces of drift­wood.

A trip­tych (three sep­a­rate pan­els hung in a line to form one piece of art) also would be stun­ning. I imag­ine a row of horses rid­ing the moun­tain trails, or hik­ers view­ing the val­leys. It’s easy enough to weath­er­proof can­vas with var­nish.

If you are dec­o­rat­ing a large area, choose ac­ces­sories that are in scale with the gran­deur of the space. Plant broad-leafed green­ery in big urns; have large pot­tery bowls for fruit and veg­eta­bles. Add fat can­dles, pro­tected in glass; and hur­ri­cane lanterns for evening light.

Wide-open spa­ces have al­ways been a prized des­ti­na­tion for de- clut­ter­ing the mind and tun­ing up the body. The Ranch’s ba­sic rus­tic style is hip and mod­ern, and pro­vides the per­fect back­drop.

The rus­tic sim­plic­ity of weath­ered wood is used throughout The Ranch at Live Oak/Mal­ibu on floors, ceil­ings, and out­door tables and benches.

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