Nestled between the Santa Monica Mountains and the California coastline, Pacific Palisades is home to stunning natural vistas and an array of properties that captivate the imagination. From groundbreaking Mid-Century Modern houses to timeless Mediterranean estates, each residence tells a story of exceptional craftsmanship, visionary design, and meticulous attention to detail.
In this article, we will highlight some of the most gorgeous properties that have graced and some which still are on the Pacific Palisades real estate market.
A STORIED HISTORY OF DEVELOPMENT
From being the primary location of Thomas Ince’s movie-making empire to becoming an exclusive haven for the Hollywood elite, the Palisades hold a century’s worth of transformations.
BEFORE THE PALISADES
Home of the Tongva people
For thousands of years before the Spanish colonization of the Americas, the Tongva people inhabited the Santa Monica Mountains and its surrounding area. The village of Topa’nga is the closest Tongva settlement to what we now know as Pacific Palisades.
By the 19th century, the land was part of Rancho Boca de Santa Monica, which was granted by the governor of California to Francisco Marquez and Ysidro Reyes in 1839. The first adobe home ever built in Santa Monica Canyon – called the Ysidro Reyes Adobe – was actually constructed a year before on present-day Pampas Ricas Boulevard. While the house itself is no longer there, a memorial plaque is dedicated to the structure along Pampas Ricas Blvd., while sketches of the dwelling are carefully preserved at the UCLA library.
In 1911, renowned film director Thomas Ince established “Inceville,” a film studio situated on a 460-acre tract of land known as Bison Ranch. It was located along Sunset Boulevard and the Pacific Coast Highway, which made it the first major development in the area since the Mexican rancho era.
Inceville set the stage for future Hollywood studios. It was home to a variety of production offices, dressing rooms, and elaborate film sets. From humble cottages to dramatic outdoor western sets, the streets were lined with structures that represent various countries and architectural styles. Inceville was a thriving hub for actors, directors, and filmmakers until a devastating fire in 1916, which destroyed most of the buildings. It was then sold to William S. Hart, who renamed it “Hartville” before selling it to Robertson-Cole Pictures Corporation.
THE TOWN A CHURCH BUILT
Pacific Palisades was founded in the 1920s by a Methodist organization, now known as the Palisades Community United Methodist Church (CUMC). And despite the stock market crash in October 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression, the newly established neighborhood saw periods of revival and growth in subsequent decades. The Alphabet Streets, named after Christian Church leaders, became an integral part of the community.
The Palisades also served as a refuge for German-Jewish and Austrian-Jewish intellectuals and artists throughout the 1970s. Renowned figures like Thomas Mann, Lion Feuchtwanger, Theodor W. Adorno, and Vicki Baum settled in the neighborhood, creating a vibrant expatriate community known as “Weimar by the Sea.” Villa Aurora, the home of Feuchtwanger and his wife Marta, became the community’s focal point.
IN THE PRESENT
Because of its rich history, architectural diversity became a hallmark of the Pacific Palisades real estate market. It is populated by everything from traditional clapboard homes to Spanish Colonial Revival mansions and Mid-Century Modern masterpieces, some of which were designed by renowned architects like Cliff May, Richard Neutra, Charles and Ray Eames, and Eero Saarinen. The layout of the original 1920s Founders Tracts was crafted by the Olmsted Brothers, adding to the neighborhood’s appeal.
Paired with its tranquil seaside environment, small-town atmosphere, and luxurious community amenities, Pacific Palisades is the ideal location for industry leaders, celebrities, and homebuyers seeking opulence and privacy.
ARCHITECTURAL MARVELS AND ICONIC LUXURY HOMES
Not sure what to expect from the current Pacific Palisades real estate market? Here are some landmarks and noteworthy properties that set the standard:
THE GETTY VILLA
17985 Pacific Coast Highway
Located in Castellammare, the Getty Villa is an awe-inspiring educational center and art museum that houses over 40,000 art pieces and historic artifacts from ancient Greek, Roman, and Etruscan cultures. Modeled after the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum, it mirrors the ancient Roman villa’s layout and spatial arrangement, from its rooms and courtyards to its herb and shrub gardens. The Getty Villa was built using similar materials as well, such as travertine stone, wood, bronze, glass, and wood-formed concrete.
While it is not a residential property, its architectural design and cultural significance have had a great influence on the rest of the Castellammare community. Many of the homes in this area incorporate classical elements such as columns, arches, and symmetrical layouts, as well as gardens, landscaping, and courtyards that create harmonious indoor-outdoor environments.
MATT DAMON’S ZEN-INSPIRED RETREAT
The Riviera, Pacific Palisades
Oscar-winning actor Matt Damon sold his tranquil, modern home for $18 million during the last quarter of 2021, making it one of the biggest transactions in Pacific Palisades that year.
The property does not disappoint: spanning 13,500 square feet across three stories, it includes 7 bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, and a variety of luxury amenities like a game room, screening room, massage room, wine cellar, and gym. The residence also offers an oasis-like outdoor space complete with a swimming pool and a Hawaiian-inspired lanai with a covered lounge and an alfresco dining terrace. But the centerpiece of the home is its stunning 35-foot atrium, adorned with mahogany vaulted ceilings.
Designed by Grant Kirkpatrick of KAA Design, this property exudes a serene tropical ambiance that fits perfectly with the Palisades’ climate and lush foliage.
THE EAMES HOUSE
203 Chautauqua Boulevard
Designed by renowned architects Charles and Ray Eames, The Eames House (also known as Case Study House no. 8) stands as an iconic representation of mid-century modern architecture. Built in 1949, it was the Eames’ personal residence as well as their contribution to the Case Study House program, which focused on new materials and technologies.
Situated on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Eames House features an abode and a studio that is connected by a courtyard. It utilized shifting colored panels, wooden interiors, and eucalyptus trees to capture the harmony between light and nature, as well as the blurred boundaries between private and public spaces.
Because of its profound influence on architectural practices and design aesthetics, this property is considered one of the most important landmarks in the Palisades.
MICHELLE PFEIFFER’S EAST COAST-STYLE PROPERTY
Rivas Canyon Road, Pacific Palisades
In 2021, Michelle Pfeiffer’s former home, a 1930s red-brick mansion was on the market for the first time in 20 years. It was the actress’ home throughout the 1990s, before she sold it for $7.5 million in 2001. Decades before that, the four-acre property was owned by Hollywood legend Will Rogers.
The East Coast country-style home boasts interiors by renowned designer Michael S. Smith, who worked on the White House during Barack Obama’s presidency. The main house features four bedrooms, while two guest units, a staff house, a gym, and a studio complete the estate. With a poolside cabana and timeless interior details like molding and hardwood floors, the residence exudes East Coast refinement.
STEVEN SPIELBERG’S ECLECTIC MEDITERRANEAN MANSION
Amalfi Drive, Pacific Palisades
This eclectic, Mediterranean-style mansion serves as the primary residence of legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg. Previously owned by Hollywood icons Cary Grant and David O. Selznick, the 10,000-square-foot property captivated Spielberg’s imagination in 1985. And with the help of architect Harry Newman, he was able to expand and construct the home according to his vision.
They were able to double its size to 20,000 square feet, adding unique features like a hobbit-themed TV room and a 14,000-gallon curved aquarium in the primary bathroom. Additional structures, including a guesthouse and a study, were seamlessly integrated into the compound connected by a spiral ramp, reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work. Spielberg also added a vineyard in 2013.
The residence, now valued at over $100 million, continues to be one of Spielberg’s most cherished properties.
NEW LISTINGS AND RECENTLY SOLD PROPERTIES
Ready to see what the Pacific Palisades real estate market holds in store for you? Here are the highlights from our June market update:
1233 BIENVENEDA AVE. (MARQUEZ KNOLLS)
5,300 square feet
This Tuscan-inspired property exudes elegance and sophistication. Also called Villa Montalcino, this home was designed and built by the renowned Arya Group. Each room offers a glimpse of the surrounding canyons and lush landscapes, and the open floor plan seamlessly connects indoor and outdoor living.
Interested buyers can expect a sprawling backyard with a pool, a BBQ area, a rooftop deck, guest suites, and ample lounging spaces. The primary suite also has a private balcony, spa-like en-suite bath, and a boutique-worthy closet. With state-of-the-art security and high-end finishes throughout, Villa Montalcino easily combines modern luxury with old world charm, creating a one-of-a-kind property.
222 AMALFI DR. (SANTA MONICA CANYON)
5,123 square feet
Every detail has been carefully curated in this luxurious contemporary home. The expansive primary bedroom has an ensuite bath, walk-in closet, and even a wet bar. The large roof deck allows you to take in the property’s breathtaking views of the canyons and ocean, while the two additional decks provide more space for relaxing and sunbathing.
The gourmet kitchen is a chef’s dream, featuring top-of-the-line Fisher & Paykel appliances and a spacious island.
This home also provides a laundry room, a home office, and beautifully appointed living and entertainment spaces with new white oak flooring, high-end tile and stone finishes, and an abundance of natural light.
530 ALMA REAL DR. (HUNTINGTON PALISADES)
3,646 square feet
This exquisite traditional home is situated on a spacious lot with 120 feet of frontage, with seamless indoor-outdoor living spaces that are perfect for entertaining. The bright and open entry level features a wood-burning fireplace in the large living room, as well as a cozy family room, a den, and a center-island kitchen with a breakfast area. There are also lush gardens and inviting sitting areas throughout the property, ideal for al fresco dining and gatherings.
Upstairs, you will find the primary suite – which features a beamed ceiling, a fireplace, and treetop views – as well as two additional bedrooms and an extra full bath.
500 MUSKINGUM PL. (EL MEDIO BLUFFS)
4,707 square feet
The new owners of this traditional home in El Medio Bluffs can enjoy unobstructed ocean views and a wealth of luxury amenities. Upon entry you are greeted with a grand foyer, a living room with a fireplace, and a sun-filled family room. Its wraparound stone deck offers numerous opportunities for al fresco dining or for simply watching the sunset.
Other home amenities include an office space, a laundry room, a guest bedroom, gym, a storage area, and a mechanical room.
357 N GRENOLA ST. (LAS CASAS LOOP)
4,604 square feet
Located in the highly coveted Las Casas/Grenola Loop, this Cape Cod masterpiece exudes timeless elegance. Designed by renowned architect Clark Remington, it has a soaring entryway that connects the kitchen, dining room, living room, and family room. A unique curving staircase in the entryway leads to the second floor, which contains the primary suite, three bedrooms, and three bathrooms. Outside, a covered porch and landscaped backyard are perfect for enjoying the beautiful weather.
355 SYCAMORE RD. (RUSTIC CANYON)
2,948 square feet
Surrounded by Sycamore trees, this lovely Craftsman home offers a tranquil escape to nature. Its gated entrance offers the utmost security and privacy, while its serene koi pond, gorgeously landscaped garden, well-designed outdoor entertainment areas, and warm wood tones offer a retreat-like ambiance.
On the ground floor, you will be greeted by an expansive family room, kitchen, and dining area. The primary suite is located on the second floor, featuring vaulted ceilings and French doors. It is joined by two bedrooms that share an updated bath. In the basement area, you’ll find a single bedroom suite that opens directly into the pool and spa. Built for entertaining guests, this property also houses a two-story guest house.
OTHER TOP LUXURY NEIGHBORHOODS
Outside of Pacific Palisades, the Westside region of Los Angeles is home to many gorgeous neighborhoods and communities.
Santa Monica is one of the most desirable locations for home buyers seeking sophistication, natural beauty, and a vibrant urban atmosphere. Its real estate market offers a diverse range of exceptional properties, from opulent estates with oceanfront views to charming Mediterranean villas.
Residents and visitors alike enjoy a wealth of amenities, from amusement park attractions at the historic Santa Monica Pier to dynamic shopping and dining scenes at Montana Avenue, Ocean Avenue, and Third Street Promenade. Its pristine coastline, bike-friendly streets, and numerous green spaces also provide many opportunities to participate in an active outdoor lifestyle.
Along the Pacific Coast Highway and the Southern California coastline lies Malibu, the epitome of luxury beachfront living. Famous for its stunning beaches, breathtaking ocean views, and world-renowned restaurants, it has a glamorous yet laid-back atmosphere that draws in high-profile residents from all over the country. Here you’ll find celebrities and entertainment tycoons as well as industry leaders and trailblazers, all enjoying what Malibu has to offer.
Home buyers can expect gorgeous cliffside residences and exclusive residential communities. Perfect for sun lovers and surfers, this city offers access to numerous beaches, state parks, and hiking trails, such as Malibu Creek State Park, Point Dume State Beach, and the Malibu Lagoon State Beach.
Located between Westwood, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills, Brentwood stands as one of Los Angeles’ most serene and picturesque neighborhoods. Its rich history dates back to the Sepulveda family’s land grant ranch, with modern development adding to its allure since the 1880s. Characterized by its coral trees, family-friendly amenities, and beautifully landscaped homes, Brentwood is one of the best places in the Westside region to buy a home.
The Getty Center – the community’s crown jewel – is home to world-class art and architectural splendor, while landmarks like the George Sturges House and Paul R. Williams’ Hunt Residence add to the area’s rich architectural profile. The Skirball Cultural Center and Brentwood Country Club offer a myriad of recreational activities and entertainment as well. And for those who strive to eat and live healthily, Brentwood Country Mart and Bristol Farms provide easy access to organic produce and artisanal products.
EXPLORE THE PACIFIC PALISADES REAL ESTATE MARKET WITH JAMES
Ready to take that first step towards your dream home in the Palisades? With his impeccable track record, in-depth market knowledge, and unparalleled negotiation skills, James Respondek is the Realtor you need by your side.