Kris Halliday’s Modern Mansion on the Malibu Coast
by Diane Barton
As a child growing up in Australia’s outback, the last thing Kris Halliday was thinking about was that someday he would move to North America. Children live in the moment and Kris was too busy being a child – an inquisitive child who loved learning from his father, a carpenter and contractor – too busy loving the ocean, drawing the creatures of the sea and the world around him.
Yet, as Kris was growing and learning, the universe was working its wonder and starting to build the path that would lead this boy to build a new life in a new land and indeed, a builder he did become – in the most literal and wondrous way. Today, Kris creates the most elite luxury mansions in the world as an internationally acclaimed developer, designer and builder and as president of Mansions by Kris Halliday (MKH Developments).
Kris said his inspiration for the designs for these utterly unique mansions began when he was, indeed, just a little boy.
“I always loved to get lost in these worlds and I was always really good at art and that was about all I really enjoyed doing, so in school I would just draw pictures and make stories up, so I always really had a creative side,” he said. “That is what helped me to do this. I just get lost in designing something. I think about it 24/7 when I’m involved in a project, so there is a progression of how much I can learn and how many skills and how many new materials I can utilize in each new development.
“It is about always trying to do 50% better in the next project I do. That’s design, that’s construction, that’s everything.”
During school holidays, when Kris was about 12 years old and into his teens, he would help his father build log cabins in the Australian outback . It was hot, tough work and although Kris said he liked the construction aspect, the environment was just too unpleasant. He did, however, do an apprenticeship in furniture making when he was 16, ultimately realizing it was not a niche market and wouldn’t be something that would fulfill him, since he had greater ambitions.
The young entrepreneur started his own company when he was just 21 years old at which time he began renovating homes utilizing some of the skills he had already learned, also enlisting his father for valuable advice. Doing, for Kris, was learning and amassing a comprehensive skill set during the process.
Spending two years in England as a semi-professional cricket player, traveling was on his agenda from the time he was 18 right through his 20s. He traveled extensively around the world while still maintaining his business.
The Road to the Future
Growing up in Australia, Kris developed a love for the ocean visiting the seaside a couple times a year with his family as a boy. The family eventually moved to the coast, close to the Great Barrier Reef.
“I love the water, I loved going to the Gold Coast … but Australia has so many insects and humidity. I wanted to go to Canada because it was cold,” Kris said. “I thought that would be great, but then I realized it rained six months of the year in Vancouver, so I toughed it out for 10 years there until I decided we could do the move and do a great project in Malibu which has everything – the waves, the coast, amazing weather, it’s never humid and there are no insects.”
The Contemporary Magic of Villa Kaizen
Kris has put his extraordinary skills to use in Malibu with the creation of one of the planet’s most refined and exclusive, contemporary homes – Kaizen.
“I really want to create a sense of nature. I love nature. It’s one of my favorite things. It used to be just about the house, but it is turning into what’s outside the house as well,” he said. “It’s integrating the house with the landscape. Not every place gives that opportunity, but it certainly is attainable in Malibu.”The architecture Kris loves has the inside connected to the outside. Kaizen’s outer and inner design elements fuse seamlessly. This is particularly important for every home he designs and builds. Kaizen is brimming with manifestations of nature – a vast saltwater aquarium, walls of plants, and even stone statuary. Not only is Kaizen a feast for the eyes, it’s also sensationally magical with the feeling it evokes and there’s a reason for that – the ancient Chinese practice of feng shui.
The Epitome of Feng Shui
For those who don’t know, feng shui – “the way of wind and water” – is the ancient Chinese art of arranging living spaces to maximize the flow of energy or life force – what the Chinese call, “chi.” When that energy is flowing positively, the environment feels in balance creating a sense of peace and harmony. In essence, feng shui attempts to balance two complementary life forces, yin and yang, by arranging furniture and décor in a certain way. Kaizen is its archetype.
Studies have shown that feng shui can reduce stress, improve sleep quality and mood. In fact, research also indicates feng shui can lessen a person’s risk of developing a mood disorder such as depression or anxiety.
Reality is, the Chinese have been designing homes and towns using feng shui principles for more than 4,000 years. Many feng shui rules indicate what items to place near to or far from doors and windows. Chi can enter and leave through those openings. Practitioners say the easiest way to change feng shui in a room is to add or move one of the five elements: water, wood, fire, earth, or metal. Apparently, mixing, combining, or subtracting these items can quickly improve the flow of positive chi.
There was certainly much to think about regarding feng shui with a 20,000-square-foot mansion. But what Kris set out to do, he accomplished since Kaizen’s chi is flowing unencumbered. It’s almost like the house breathes, that it is its own lifeform with positive energy running through its veins.
“The one thing about feng shui is that you have to encourage all the good things in your life, so the right feng shui can bring abundance,” Kris said. “But, negative feng shui can work the other way, too. It can impact you negatively with your mood, your attitude, your luck. I can definitely feel it when I am in a house – the houses with good feng shui and the ones with bad.”
It’s a Material World
Kris sources materials he uses for his homes from all over the world. Kaizen is built using some of the most beautiful and sturdy of those such as onyx, marble, amazonite and a variety of imported wood. What you won’t find are any shiny, pretentious, sterile surfaces or objects.
“I could probably name about 30 countries where everything comes from,” he said, adding the home is designed to be as organic as possible. “Everything should have a special texture and feel. Instead of a modern house where you’ve got drywall and shiny floors where you have to be careful or you might scratch the drywall, with Kaizen you’re meant to touch it, love it, feel it.”
Kaizen is made with super-reinforced concrete – built to last for centuries – up to 400 or 500 years. It could potentially outlive ancient castles, especially with the new technology used for the building. That is part of the reasoning for building homes of 20,000 or more square feet
“The interior may get refinished throughout the years, but this has been built to stand the test of time,” he said, referring to Kaizen. “Everything has been custom finished. Every single thing was a one-off for this home.”
Since Southern California is known for having fires and earthquakes, Kaizen also has fire protection utilizing a full internal sprinkler system, roof flooding and exterior house irrigation controlled and powered off grid with well water. Part of the mansion’s environmental friendliness includes a whole-home solar system with full battery storage backup to power the home at night and during blackouts.
Heating and cooling are controlled naturally by self-regulation due to Kaizen’s insulation. Any heating and cooling required is powered by radiant floor heating and linear air diffusers over the windows and doors. This advanced system takes energy from the air and has the ability to heat and cool at the same time. For example, the pool can be heated while the home is cooled using the same energy.
A Tribute to the Ancients
There are multiple stone walls around the home, including a spectacular hand-carved Buddha caressed lightly by the water flowing over it into a serene pond swimming with koi.
“I hand drew the design for that wall and it’s meant to symbolize ancient civilizations,” Kris noted, adding there are different themes throughout the home paying homage to those civilizations, incorporating those aspects with the modernity of Kaizen.
In fact, Kris hand drew all the designs for the stone carvings, showing his hands-on approach in every aspect of Kaizen’s birth – from inception to finished product. Kris was out with his crew pouring concrete or installing fixtures, doing whatever needed to be done. He is a part of whatever is happening at any given time during construction. He gives each project his full attention and since these luxury super mansions are designed and built for society's ultra-elite celebrities and billionaire clientele in mind, confidentiality and privacy are of the utmost importance. Kris’s hand-picked, in-house team understands this.
“As far as I know, I am the only person in the world doing it to this level where I am the developer, I am the architect, I’m the builder, I’m the interior designer and the landscape designer,” Kris said. “Not only that, I don’t hire any contractors, so I’m personally In charge of every aspect.”
Adding teacher to his list of Kris’s skills is right on the mark since he teaches his team about installing the stone, the plumbing, the electrical, the concrete, the rebar – anything and everything connected to the construction in any way. It assures quality control and the seamless integration of all aspects of the home and cuts down on construction time. Incidentally, Kaizen has the only stone backlit kitchen and bathroom (including bathtub) in the world.
“Normally, a house like this takes six years to build and we did it in two-and-a-half,” Kris said. “We aim to build 30,000-square-foot houses in two years from start to finish.”
In the Heat of the Night
When the sun’s rays dip below the ocean horizon and the Milky Way lights up an ebony sky, an ethereal metamorphosis takes place. Kaizen’s sultry personality is ushered in by the darkness and the gentle beach breeze. Torch lights cast mysterious shadows and carefully-thought-out backlighting turns exquisite elements into glowing finery. By day, Kaizen is the embodiment of avant-garde, modern opulence. At night, she breathes in grace, sensuality and is unapologetically hedonistic. Anyone lucky enough to be in her company will be mesmerized and enveloped by it all.
Kaizen stands as a monument to 21st century excellence in modern design, architecture, technology and construction thanks to Kris and his MKH Developments team, who are already working on their next project.
LVH guests can stay at this prestigious Malibu mansion. With one phone call to an LVH client relations professional, we will put the wheels in motion for you to experience the Malibu lifestyle and the esoteric allure of the one and only Villa Kaizen.