Malibu estate redefines ‘custom-built’

The two-level studio is nearly as large as the main house.
(Juergen Nogai)

A Malibu estate with a studio nearly as large as the contemporary main residence, its own dog park and an ecologically friendly design gives new meaning to the phrase “custom built.”

The gated compound, created by Los Angeles artist and designer Douglas Busch as his personal residence, sits on 10 aces with 360-degree ocean, mountain and canyon vistas. Busch, who is also an internationally recognized photographer, has used steel and glass, sustainable materials and water features to create an eco- and health-conscious home.

Drought-tolerant landscaping includes plants from around the world, and a passive collection system directs rain water into cisterns around the property. Floors are made of materials such as termite-resistant Ipe hardwood, finished with beeswax for nontoxic sustainable living.

“I looked for a place for two years, and this site had the best views,” says Busch, who owns the home with his wife, Lori Bruce Busch, also a designer. “I wanted privacy and a site where I could have my studio and not go anywhere. It took five years and two full-time architects who worked with me to complete the place.”


A winding driveway leads up to the artist’s studio, which is surrounded by a turtle and koi pond — filled with 50 turtles and 75 koi that had been rescued. Opposite the studio is a solar-heated saltwater pool and sauna, an entertainment pavilion and a 200-square-foot pool house with bathroom.

The studio is set up as an office with conference rooms and a kitchen downstairs, and office space, a bathroom, a breezeway gallery and guest living space upstairs. The guest quarters, which have a separate entrance, include a bedroom/living area with a kitchen and a bathroom.

At the top of the hill is the main residence, designed to capture unobstructed views through strategically placed windows and an open floor plan. On the lower level is a laundry room, media room and an office that could be used as a bedroom, with a bathroom. A split-level library wraps around the back of a staircase that leads to the home’s main level.

The main level includes a living area, separated from the dining area by a cantilevered fireplace, and a kitchen with custom-made cabinets that hide the appliances. Marble counters surround deep sinks.

The master suite features a section of roof that opens to the sky. One dressing room has cedar-lined, built-in closets with hanging bars that pull out of the wall and a safe for jewelry. A second dressing room spans a smaller space on the other side of the master bathroom, which has a walk-in double shower that opens to the outdoors.

The dog park is off one side of the master suite, and doggie doors are installed throughout the house.

The roof of the main house can be used as a sleeping loft, with a fireplace, herb garden and water features.

Downhill from the main house and studio is a guesthouse, currently used as a home gym and storage room for Busch’s artwork. It can be converted into a two-bedroom guesthouse with bathroom.


To submit a candidate for Home of the Week, send high-resolution color photos on a CD, caption information, the name of the photographer and a description of the house to Lauren Beale, Business, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Send questions to