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Exotic Wood Accents From Around the World


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Macassar ebony, jatoba, eucalyptus, pearwood, American cherry, zebrawood, polished stained concrete, curly ash, syndecrete, stainless steel and an array of other materials co-mingle effortlessly in this spectacular Malibu residence.It is the unusual combinations of media, intriguing details, and novel layering techniques that make this sophisticated, comfortable and stunningly beautiful home a real standout.


When Rick and Robyn Ross moved into their home in 2000, they undertook an aggressive renovation to convert it into a family-friendly dwelling that reflected their taste and accommodated their lifestyle, interests, and activities. Both Rick and Robyn are savvy, sophisticated professionals. Confident in their tastes, they specified that they wanted a warm, modern, and functional environment in which to live, entertain and raise their three children. Robyn requently hosts fundraisers and special events for charitable organizations in her work as a philanthropist. Rick, a real estate investor, sought a place to work and to indulge his passion for astronomy. 

With all this in mind, they engaged Carol Cozen of Cozen Architecture + Lighting to customize, update and upgrade the residence and expand its interior footprint to include a gym, playroom, arts and crafts deck, office and an observatory.


Combining Wood and Concrete: An Unusual Combination

Today, guests step across the Ross’ threshold into an entryway carpeted with stained concrete that is inlaid with tongues of jatoba, also known as Brazilian cherry wood. It’s an unusual and striking combination, one of many such juxtapositions throughout the home.

The jatoba wood fingers provide an eye-catching accent and serve as an introduction to some of the design themes throughout the house. “It’s like the overture to a symphony,” says Rick. “It welcomes people to the house and introduces them to what’s coming.”


The entryway opens into a hall that is paved with solid jatoba, and, further on, there is a jatoba stair runner. Not only is Brazilian cherry hard, strong and tough enough to stand up to wear and tear, its rich, golden brown hue and beautiful grain imparts a soft warmth to the surrounding area.


Macassar ebony is jet black with brown or brownish-gray streaks, and, when polished, it gleams brilliantly. The Macassar ebony makes a bold statement in the living room, where a curved macassar ebony wall featuring a carved handrail with lighting embedded in a recessed pocket gives off a spectacular glow. In the bar area, macassar ebony is paired with American cherry wood in a distinctive cabinet application, and used as facing on the drawers.



A set of Donghia nesting tables adds a touch of zebrawood to the living room. Zebrawood has a distinctive striped appearance, with brown streaks pulsing through straw-colored wood. The tables are zebrawood, glass and soapstone in a layered configuration.


In the home’s master bedroom, a floating bedwall/ headboard offers an interesting textural contrast employing pearwood and robusta eucalyptus. Pearwood is a light, pinkish, very fine grained, hard wood with a creamy texture, while robusta eucalyptus is moderately coarse textured with an interlocking grain. In tone, eucalyptus is light red to reddish brown and it darkens over time to a rich reddish brown. The master bedroom also features an undulating, wave-like ceiling made of cedar tongue and groove.


Other applications throughout the home involving the use of woods, both exotic and domestic, include multi-colored aggregates of glass tile, copper, teak and limestone in the master bathroom, and curly ash bookshelves in the upstairs office. Rick’s observatory is lined with birds eye maple shelving.


The innovative palette of materials of unusual pairings and distinctive stylings found in the Ross residence are the result of close collaboration between the architect and the homeowners. Rick and Robyn worked closely with Carol during the design and specification phases, looking at many wood and material combinations. 


“There are six, seven or eight different woods throughout the house, and they all blend together in interesting ways,” notes Rick. “We spent many hours putting samples of the woods together to see how they played off each other, how they contrasted. It was a fascinating process. After nine years, we still love it. It’s functional, yet striking and beautiful.”


“Touches of wood add warmth andflair to a home, and bring nature into the viewplane,” Carol adds. 


As an architect, she says it’s important to work closely with owners, to understand their needs and incorporate their ideas, their dreams. “Rick and Robyn wanted a timeless home that is sophisticated, yet warm and welcoming. My goal was not to create my masterpiece, but to create their masterpiece.”   IW




Carol Cozen
Cozen Architects + Lighting