The Ultimate Private Retreat
By Victoria Namkung
Photographs by Peter Christiansen Valli
LEFT: The front façade of Villa Cascata; RIGHT: Gregg and Audrey Ruth.
As an entrepreneur and CEO of Gregg Ruth & Co., the Malibu-based jewelry design and manufacturing company, Gregg Ruth spends a lot of time on the road. “I travel all the time, so this home is my vacation,” says the Pennsylvania native. “I don’t need to go to Hawaii. It’s redundant.” Known for a focus on craftsmanship and detail, Gregg Ruth jewels often incorporate unusual diamond cuts and colors and patented setting techniques.
Gregg opened his first retail store in Tennessee in 1977, and by 1987 he had moved to a modest home along Escondido Creek in the picturesque hills of Malibu. In 1994 Gregg met his future wife, Audrey, who was living on the Venice canals at the time, on a blind date. A Wisconsin native who was raised in Louisiana and Texas, Audrey had always dreamed of living in California and later opened an antiques business on Robertson. The couple, now married for 14 years, eventually found a raw piece of land in a gated community high atop Latigo Canyon Road and spent three years building on it. A former horse ranch that was once owned by a local sheriff, Villa Cascata is one of the most unique properties in all of Malibu, with 600 feet of vertical drop. Overlooking Escondido Falls, the 13,500-square-foot home has awe-inspiring views of the Pacific, including Paradise Cove and Point Dume.
“I really wanted the house to be livable and comfortable,” says Audrey, who codesigned the Tuscan-style house with her husband. Gregg originally drew the design for the structure on a napkin. “It’s totally private up here, and there’s really nothing like it. We wanted to build [the house] to the potential it deserved.” So the Ruths decided on three separate structures, including a 1,500-square-foot guesthouse. “When we have guests stay here they have complete privacy,” says Gregg. Inspired by their visits to Italy, the Ruths ground up local stone to get the paint color for the home’s exterior and brought in Cypress and olive trees for an authentic feel.
The Ruth family, including sons Nile, 10, and Nash, 7, two Australian shepherds, a Chihuahua and a cat, have been living in the palatial spot for the last three years. Sitting on nearly 20 acres of land, the stunning home features beautiful stone archways, elegant columns, a pool entertaining area with its own kitchen and fireplace and impressive custom wrought-iron work. “People here don’t build like they do in Santa Barbara, where the homes have that charm and character, and we really wanted that,” says Audrey, who designed most of the interiors. “I wanted it to have that feeling of Addison Mizner and the old established houses.”
With Malibu’s ideal weather, the outdoor area was as much of a priority as the interiors for the Ruths. In addition to the pool area, there are paddle- tennis courts, a basketball court, a traditional Japanese garden, a koi pond, trails, pastures and soothing fountains. “We may start growing vines here,” says Gregg, who loves gardening and landscaping and who designed the homes’ exteriors. The main garden is full of fruit trees, peppers and strawberries.
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.