Photographed by Erhard Pfeiffer and Siri Berting
After creating the largest insurance company in California and writing three books, most people would collapse into exhaustion. But Renee and Don Martin are not like most people; their vision, scholarship, philanthropy and ongoing community service is testament to their unyielding devotion that spans from their immediate family to the national community. When the Martins decide to champion a cause or interest, they are fully invested in the process and committed to a successful outcome. When they decided to build their magnificent home in Palos Verdes with famed architect Richard Landry, there was no question that it would be a spectacular gem of architecture.
Renee Martin is a powerhouse personality—a quick study with a sharp wit. When she decided to build her home, she would not settle for any piece of land; she wanted the best parcel. By pure serendipity, an incredible lot was available in Palos Verdes on five acres that has the unique view of both Catalina and the lights of Los Angeles … making every room in the Martin home one with a view.
The Martins worked with renowned Los Angeles architect Richard Landry in what Renee defines as “a true partnership.” After traveling the globe, the Martins have amassed antiques and art from around the world, with a highly discerning eye for exquisitely detailed traditional architecture. They spent a year designing their home with Landry, so that every element was exactly to their specifications.
The beautifully bleached stone was imported from France, while basket weave and herringbone parquet floors ooze Old World sophistication and elegance. Masterful millwork and incredible tray ceilings further enhance the exceptional quality of the home. A slate roof, copper gutters and custom lighting further elevate the home’s refined level of design. Renee’s most important request was that she experience light throughout the house and be able to take advantage of the views. With that dictate, Landry designed the home in the shape of an “H” so that windows and porches flow from every room of the house.
All entertaining at the Martin home begins in the massive, glamorous bar and adjacent wine cellar. Don began collecting wine 30 years ago, and it has evolved into a passion and a lifestyle. As a member of two wine clubs, Don has the opportunity to socialize with good friends while enjoying the life of an oenophile. Their magnificent wine cellar is stocked with more than 1,200 bottles of wine from around the globe that are carefully catalogued and stored. The cellar is as visually delicious as the wine it contains. An incredible herringbone ceiling and stone floor from France encase the beautiful library of wine, and there are designated areas for opening and tasting. »
The Martins entertain frequently, whether hosting large family Sunday brunches or afternoons of bridge with friends. They are NCAA football fanatics, and there is always a gathering on Saturdays in autumn to watch games in their large family room. Yet with all the glamour, sophistication and elegance of this beautiful and busy house, Renee bestows her most meaningful description on her home: “It is my sanctuary—of family, friends and peace.” The Martins have found as much joy in sharing their rich collections of antiques and wine at their cherished home with the stunning views as those so fortunate to partake with them.