floors are made of wood from the old Malibu Pier. The overall effect is a home that seems to have emerged from the land on which it rests.
The Backyard Porch
is supported by blocks of stone Mark tractored in, creating an ideal perch for enjoying the unobstructed views. Mark’s wife, Lisa, a New Yorker at heart, says her California home has stoops, reminding her of the East Coast.
Mark and Lisa with their toddlers, Nyla and Tuff, who feel right at home atop their ponies, Shannon and Scotty. The Wallace menagerie also includes pigs Tubbz and Crockett.
Mark Wallace is a pro at salvaging odds and ends for his eclectic home
It’s really anyone’s guess as to what Mark Wallace will be dragging home on any given day. But then again, the kinds of things he brings in aren’t exactly items most other people would even think of adopting: discarded telephone poles, boulders that have shaken loose from their perch, orphaned emus.
The thing is, once Mark, a firefighter who is stationed in Woodland Hills, has carted, trucked or dragged these odds and ends to his home, it’s just the beginning of the story because the man has a vision for using castoffs to create beauty.
This story begins with telephone poles, though Mark’s salvage skills reach farther back. He remembers going to garage sales with his grandfather when he was a kid. But on the day he spotted those poles he was driving along Mulholland Highway when he noticed Edison workers stacking downed telephone poles, preparing to haul them away. Mark pulled over and asked what they planned to do with the old, weathered wood. Why not save the dump fees and let me take them off your hands, he proposed.
Those poles, which once lined up like soldiers from Malibou Lake to Calabasas High School, now serve as the beams in his rustic home, built on 4½ acres in unincorporated Calabasas.
Mark grew up in the area. He was 10 when his family moved to a piece of land just next door to his current home. The family lived in a trailer while Mark’s father, retired fire captain Don Wallace, built the family home. Mark helped his dad construct the house, was in the first graduating class of Calabasas High School and regularly rode his horse on local trails his father helped build. (The Don Wallace Trail near Las Virgenes Creek was named after Mark’s father.)
Since then Mark, who is testing to be fire captain and is a paramedic, realtor, general contractor and beekeeper, has completed several homes, some on spec, some for other families. But his pièce de résistance, the house supported by those telephone poles, now is home to his young family, which includes his wife Lisa, and their toddlers, Nyla and Tuff.
The house, perched high above a canyon tributary, is clearly a labor of love as well as an ongoing project. “We broke ground on 9/11,” Mark recalls. Sometime after that, the poles went up. Mark and his lifelong high school buddies, who often collaborate on each other’s home projects, used antique draw knives to rediscover the wood’s golden hue, long hidden by a dark crust of age when they stood along the highway.
The floors stretching through the house are mostly flagstone interrupted by boulders that Mark pulled in by tractor, mostly from nearby roads after they had slid down the hill, a common occurrence in the area.
But the golden, grainy wood floors have another story to tell. When the old Malibu Pier, built in 1905, was being torn down, Mark took the scrapped wood off of the workers’ hands. Today those floors shine. Who knew such beauty lingered under those weathered planks. “I fished on the Malibu Pier as a kid,” Mark recalls. Today some of the corbels from the pier grace the interior of his eclectic home.
Wife Lisa, a former New Yorker who worked as a costume designer and stylist in the film industry, describes herself as a “dumpster diver” as well, and one of the most interesting pieces in the living room is her occasional table made from the tailgate of a vintage Chevrolet pickup truck.
Still, Lisa, who says she was more familiar with a neighborhood stoop than a stray boulder, says the house is mostly Mark.
He had already built it when they married. And she good-naturedly embraces whatever he brings home.
Recently that included the pair of emus and a couple of ponies suddenly homeless after the Pierce College Farm Center petting zoo closed. Mark found homes for most of the ponies but it looks like emus Errol and Flynn may have found their forever home with the Wallace family in their eclectic house of castaways.
Written by LESLIE GREGORY HAUKOOS Photos by JOAN PAHOYO
Images below, Mark salvaged the intricately carved post out of a rubbish pile in Venice Beach and guesses it may be more than 100 years old and a still life on the family room mantel. Tiles on the stairway are replicas of Malibu Tiles in the historic Adamson House. Mark commissioned artist Janine Waldbaum to make them.