Sometimes things in life just come together at the right moment—the right person meets someone at the right time, and it creates magic, whether they realize it at first or not. That’s what happened this year when Ken Pace and Eve Plumb had a friend introduce them to Dan Meis. During their meeting, in which Eve described as “folks just talking,” Dan Meis revealed his passion for this project for a few reasons. First, being widely known for his world-class stadiums and large-scale projects, he wanted to work on a smaller scale, and build a beautiful home in Malibu. Not to mention, Meis told Eve, who famously played Jan in The Brady Bunch, that his first inspiration to join the field came from Mike Brady, the iconic fictional architect and role model father.
This moment is a reminder of how cyclical everything is, how our present is a constant reminder of our past. And also that the best things in life happen when folks just get together to talk. When they build trust through personal relationships.
Through these remarkable coincidences arrives Dan Meis’ design for Eve’s property. It’s a bold, courageous design made in concrete, glass and steel, but one that also offers the utmost comfort through its simplicity and its respect to the surrounding nature. By looking at it, it feels like Meis was inspired by the California dreams of his youth. Now, fast forward a couple decades in the future, and he’s collaborating with a Brady Bunch star and making a future client’s California dreams a reality.
I spoke with the lovely couple, Eve Plumb and Ken Pace, about their move from LA to New York, their experiences in working with Dan Meis, Malibu, and how they’re living their own dream.
The Value of Architecture: So how did you guys meet Dan Meis?
Ken: We met him through a friend in New York actually.
Eve: Kane, right? We met him through Kane.
Ken: He’s a realtor in New York that we met at the Cinema Society, which Eve gets invited to.
Eve: The Cinema Society holds screening of films, and then they have parties afterwards at these really great venues. We ended up meeting Kane there—this guy who had been an actor and now is a wonderful realtor in New York. We told him about our property in Malibu, and he said, “Well, I’ve got this great architect.” And we met Dan, and he was interested in doing this with us. He got us so excited about it, and now is now.
Ken: We had lunch and everyone got along great. We talked about the sensibilities of the project, the pluses and minuses of the land itself. Dan noticed that there’s no one next door, so basically it’s a public beach but with a little space, which means there’s an unobstructed view of the bay. Plus, the waterfront, so he was very enthusiastic about the designs. We gave him a little input about it, told him what we thought about the designs, so there was a little bit of collaboration about it, but what is there to criticize because his designs are so phenomenal.
Eve: I basically said you should do what you think is best. Because he’s so good.
TVOA: When did you guys meet Kane?
Ken: We met him about nine months ago, last winter.
Eve: It’s one of those things where you follow a thread back, and you don’t really realize how it happened because it happened so slowly and incrementally.
TVOA: And it’s great when it happens through personal relationships as opposed to finding someone on the internet. It grows organically.
Eve: Right, because it creates the feeling of trust. You get to know them a little bit and you get the feeling like you should do this.
Ken: We liked Kane a lot.
Eve: And we liked Dan.
TVOA: So also what I’m hearing is that when you hired Dan you actually didn’t know how accomplished he was.
Ken: No, we just liked him a lot. And we liked the way he thought about architecture.
Eve: And that also comes from the trust that developed when Kane said he was good. When we met Dan we only spoke about the project. And Dan isn’t the kind of guy to blow his own horn. He didn’t come in and say, “Well I’ve built stadiums all around the world, so you’re really lucky to have me.” We were just folks talking.
Ken: Also, the design that Dan made is specific to the site. Before Dan was hired we had an architect friend of ours do preliminary surveys of the land—in Malibu there’s a whole lot of diagrams and legal stuff that has to be done before the project could start, so we gave that to Dan. When he designed the house, it was specific to that space, and not like he just took this design that he made and plunked it down somewhere that didn’t fit.
TVOA: Eve, could you tell me about the property itself? I read somewhere you’ve owned it since 1969.
Eve: I was just a wee-child at the time, of course. My mother had a real estate gene. She saw the ad for this land in Variety, and we were looking for a weekend place. It was a teeny-tiny ad that said, “Beach House Available: Sandy Beach.” And that was her main thing—that she wanted to have a sandy beach because a lot of Malibu is wet sand beach. You’ve got beautiful, fancy houses, but you can’t sit on the sand. The water comes up under your house. That was the main selling point for her. So we went out and bought it, and it was our weekend house for many years. It was only a half-hour from where we lived in Van Nuys.
TVOA: How many renovations happened to that house over time?
Eve: Well that’s been odd actually because another fantastic thing about this property was that it was a great rental property. But the people that rent it long-term seem to have the idea that they own it. So they have done renovations—either with or without permission, that we have since had to backtrack and have approved. It started right away with someone replacing the 1950’s formica—the house is from the 50’s—with tile in the 80’s. Someone also converted the garage single-car into a three-bedroom, and someone added a bathroom. So now it’s three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Some renters are a little crazy, but it’s a good thing overall. I think because people fell in love with the house, they wanted to make it better.
Ken: We left the good stuff, and tore out the stuff we didn’t like.
TVOA: How long would the long-term renters stay?
Eve: One stayed for five years, another four years. We had serial long-term renters.
TVOA: So it was never a summer rental for people on vacation?
Eve: No, that’s never seemed to happen. It’s not like the Hamptons where you can make a lot of money off of a summer rental.
Ken: And also the issue of wear and tear. If you rent it out to vacationers, they might invite people over and have big parties. You don’t want thirty people in your house everyday. It’s a good little cabin, and we want to be nice to it.
TVOA: With the new design by Meis is anything going to be kept in the existing structure?
Eve: I don’t think so. I think the idea that this location is really quite wonderful, and it affords the ability to create this amazing design.
Ken: The bungalow was built in the 50’s on telephone polls, so it would need to be updated. I don’t think there’s anything going to be kept. Up and down Malibu though, this house would get noticed as one of the most extraordinary designs in the area.
TVOA: Speaking of the area, what else can you tell us about it?
Eve: Escondido Beach Road is a unique spot in that it does have a lot of sandy beach that hasn’t been eroded as opposed to Trancas where all those amazing trophy houses had to put in rocks because the ocean is encroaching. I think it has to do with the fact that the sand shifts, and in the next twenty years, it will come back, but currently Escondido Beach is still a beach. And it has a lot of history actually, up and down the road. There are houses that have been there since the 20’s and 30’s, Geoffrey’s Restaurant, Paradise Cove where they filmed Rockford Files. Plus, the city of Malibu, which is just a couple miles down the road, has gone crazy in the last couple years with beautiful shopping centers—the whole caché of Malibu.
Ken: It’s a great beach town. A great place to walk your dog and hang out in. It’s also south-facing, so you get less of an issue with storms.
Eve: And the view with the hills behind, and Sycamore Creek right there.
Ken: One other thing, there’s actually a lot of stand up paddle boarding, but there’s also a lot of kayak fishermen because there’s kelpbeds out there that are pretty spectacular. It’s a little niche cove that doesn’t exist in a lot of Santa Monica Bay.
TVOA: What’s the next step for you guys?
Ken: We made the move to New York.
Eve: We sold our house in Laguna Beach and decided to make the move. We wanted a change and New York is such a great city to live in. Not to mention all the real estate opportunities out here. It’s very enticing.
By: David Plick