Retreat in rustic style
The rustic simplicity of weathered wood is used exclusively throughout The Ranch on floors, ceilings and outdoor tables and benches. (Contributed)
When creating the decor for the renovation of an historic working ranch into a health and 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 grey 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 relax the spirit of any who visit.
The Ranch is located in Southern California, three miles above the Pacific Ocean, in the Santa Monica mountains. In one intensive week at this luxury bootcamp, I experienced the rigour of daily four-hour hikes, core strengthening workouts, yoga classes, and personal massages. All that fresh air and exercise spurs on an appetite, and the healthful diet is surprisingly outstanding. The chef brings a whole other meaning to vegetarian, glutton- and dairy-free meals. He is a scientist and chef rolled into one. Every guest was astounded at the unique flavours he was capable of producing. Even the most diehard foodie learns something new about the preparation of food in the chef's kitchen. Most of the produce served at The Ranch comes from their own gardens.
In the welcoming style of a Spanish hacienda, the large Great room features oversized couches and chairs, high-beamed ceilings and an enormous 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 grey scaffolding running through both spaces. Colour 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 grey, 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 now familiar scaffolding is in place, but I was drawn to the simple artistic touch of decorating the walls with the same wood planks 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) would also 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 in scale with the grandeur of the space. Plant broad-leafed greenery in big urns, have large pottery bowls for fruit and homegrown vegetables. Add fat candles protected in glass, and hurricane lanterns for evening light.
Wide open spaces have always been a prized destination for decluttering the mind and tuning up the body. The Ranch’s basic rustic style is hip and modern, and provides the perfect backdrop.