Relaxed & Timeless

With wonderful privacy, an incredible view and exquisitely designed interiors, one might mistake Tim Clarke’s project in Palos Verdes for a luxury property in the Indian Ocean.

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    Suzanna Cullen

Unparalleled is the word that best describes the recent project in Palos Verdes by nationally renowned interior designer Tim Clarke. Perched on a cliff over the Pacific, the Mediterranean house is beautifully sited with ancient, windblown trees insulating it from passersby, yet it opens to incredible views from every room. 

Perfection is continued inside the house, where the architectural finishes and interior design seamlessly blend appropriate proportion and scale with elegant and sophisticated materials. In total, it is a house created with incredible attention to both quality and detail while remaining focused on the marriage of naturally inspired interiors.

The purchase of the oceanfront lot in Lunada Bay included a set of house plans by architect Doug Leach. The clients immediately called Tim, who describes his design philosophy as one focused on “modern coastal interiors where I incorporate natural elements of the environment into a sophisticated but relaxed interior.” 

Tim selected the interior architectural finishes and also made changes to the exterior, including the outdoor living area. By specifying a rectangular infinity pool that appears to fall into the ocean below and then creating additional living and dining areas outside, Tim greatly increased the living area of the home. Gorgeous trees and lush gardens surround the home, offering privacy and serenity while the sound of the waves softly washing on the rocky shore below provides a constant refrain. 

Traits of true Mediterranean homes include the use of stone, aged wood, plaster walls and ancient tiles that have a soft patina derived from centuries of sunlight and wear. By incorporating those materials into rooms with high ceilings and tall windows, the house yields sun-drenched spaces that remain cool and quiet in the subdued color palate used throughout the home. Bleached European wide oak plank flooring throughout most areas of the home combined with the use of antique tile mosaics and limestone in bathrooms offer pattern and texture in a calm but tactile way. Antique rough-hewn beams line ceilings, while French limestone mantels adorn walls. 

Tim believes that “the incorporation of materials varying in texture, patina and age are the elements that elevate a home to a highly sophisticated and graciously modern take on a traditional European home.” 



Bold colors and harsh contemporary edges will never be found in Tim’s projects. Instead, he says, “I rely on nature to dictate the lines, colors and feel of a home, and I like to blend both old and new elements into the design.” 

He scours flea markets and antique shows for unique items that distinguish his projects and elevate them to a highly personal level. “I found every chandelier in this home on shopping trips,” he adds, and antiques quietly grace every room—in both the rugs and furniture.

However, amongst all the references to a period Mediterranean home are wonderfully creative, modern design solutions for the busy family that occupies the house. A clean wall of light-stained mahogany doors hides the television and stereo equipment in the family room. What appears to be another antique limestone hearth in the kitchen is actually the housing for a huge, built-in stove in the great kitchen where the family congregates.

The home theatre is tucked away in the lower level with a massive grouping of reclining lounge chairs that can be converted to beds if the children want to have friends spend the night after watching movies. In the office, the couple is so united that they share a desk and sit side by side while they work, looking at the ever-changing views of the Pacific Ocean.

When designing the daughter’s bedroom, Tim pushed the expected design boundaries for a child’s room. Instead of bright fabrics and cute forms, he used exquisite silk gauze in soft tones and found an antique, blush-pink corner cupboard for toy storage. A subtle, hand-painted frieze dances along the walls for a playful yet understated nod to the whimsy and imagination of childhood.

The living and dining rooms contain light-washed Continental antiques resting on century-old kilims. Interesting architectural remnants and objects found in nature accessorize the rooms by instilling balance and harmony. Hand-blocked, natural linen fabrics in a muted color palate reveal the soft patina and glow that age and wear impart.

The master bedroom is a womb of quiet elegance. A wall of windows faces the ocean, while the furnishings speak softly in tones of cream and ecru. A small loveseat at the foot of the handcrafted bed provides a restful respite—whether watching the fire blaze or the ocean roll. Though minimally furnished, each element is very strong—creating a room that is extraordinarily substantive and layered.

The house is a testament to the philosophy that when the architecture is strong and the materials are of the finest quality, there is no need for the mask of loud fabrics and cute accessories. Rooms are beautifully designed with comfortable proportions, exquisite finishes and incredible light. An enveloping color palate sets the stage and frames the architectural details and interior furnishings.

Perfection is often the aspired goal, but it is rarely achieved. When variables such as an incredible house site and a fabulous floor plan are united with an understanding of both the culture and materials of a particular home vernacular, a truly authentic home can be created. Tim’s Palos Verdes project remains unparalleled in every capacity.