My Favorite Room: David Charvet and Brooke Burke-Charvet step out into the south of France

"All of it was inspired by the French countryside," David Charvet says of the cabana that the couple built at their Malibu home.
(Christina House / For The Times)

Like its name suggests, Chateau Charvet was inspired by David Charvet’s childhood in the south of France.

At the Malibu mansion that he and wife Brooke Burke-Charvet designed and call home, there’s an old stone driveway with an 18th century fountain. The courtyard is ringed by gas lamps. Architect Doug Burdge put in antique hand-plastered walls, custom ceiling details and a 4,000-bottle wine cellar.

“We actually built another chateau — twice the size of this one — right down the street that we moved into for a couple of years,” said Charvet, who starred on “Melrose Place” and “Baywatch” and now co-owns luxury construction company Jones Builders Group. “But we found ourselves coming back to this one. It’s kind of a keeper.”


Charvet and Burke-Charvet, who is currently competing on NBC’s “The New Celebrity Apprentice,” finished the five-bedroom house in 2008. Since then, many of the couple’s fondest memories have come from their outdoor cabana.

What makes the cabana so appealing to you?

Charvet: It’s very romantic. You can see the pool, the house, the whole backyard. We wanted to take people out of L.A. When you come over, you feel like you’re in a completely different place.

Burke-Charvet: It’s open-air and open-roof. You see rolling greens, beautiful cypress trees, rosebushes, an infinity pool that dips into the lawn. And the symmetry of the cabana when outside looking in is spectacular. The fragrance of the Tunisian jasmine and potted gardenias is really seductive. We’re very particular about that.

How come?

Charvet: My father is from Tunisia, so there’s always jasmine growing in the home. It’s an amazing, sweet smell.


Is the cabana decorated?

Burke-Charvet: We have these great square poufs so that people can sit around the low coffee table. It’s a bit of a cozier setting, more comfortable than a proper dining area. No matter what table we put in the garden or inside, people gather here. The kids make s’mores here.

What design style were you going for?

Burke-Charvet: We had a hard time at first defining our style — it was very eclectic. David’s idea to bring some of the culture and history from Europe and blend it into the Malibu ambience created this modern Provencal style. We took a lot of inspiration from Mediterranean influences and architectural decor coffee-table books. David has such a good eye from his European background — he was able to recreate that and build something authentic, of quality.

Charvet: All of it was inspired by the French countryside — I grew up with all of these outdoor areas, with everyone having good meals and great moments.

Any special memories from the cabana?


Burke-Charvet: During the holidays, we celebrate here with friends and family, because we’re so blessed in Malibu to be able to do that all year round.

Charvet: We got married in our backyard. We had 100 people, tables, dance floors, screens and different areas where people could socialize and eat. What we found at the end of the night was that all these 100 people were trying to crowd into this cabana that could hold about 30.

What’s the most precious feature?

Charvet: The fireplace. There’s something special about the way it roars, the way it holds heat. The stone mantel is basically a 2,000-pound piece of stone sitting on two other pieces of stone. It’s done like it was in the olden days. If there’s one piece of this house I’d like to last forever, it’s really this fireplace.



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