Every house tells a story, and in Los Cabos, on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja peninsula, a pair of vacation homes stand side by side as a testament to a remarkable friendship—the one that George Clooney shares with Rande Gerber and his wife, Cindy Crawford. The name of this compound, Casamigos—or House of Friends—says it all. “We’ve been hanging out for 20-something years,” says Gerber, a nightlife entrepreneur who now focuses on his tequila-and-rum company, Gerber Spirits. “Long before the houses were built, we would travel to Baja together, staying at different hotels and drinking tequila.” The idea of planting a flag in Los Cabos came several years ago while the two men were there on vacation with a few friends. “We saw this oceanfront lot and thought maybe it made sense to build something,” Gerber says. It was a desire fueled by wanting a place where family and friends could come together comfortably. “Once we had kids, we would go on vacation at Christmas,” says Crawford. “But you’d have to book hotels a year in advance, and then you’d get there and they never quite lived up to expectations.” Plus, Los Cabos is a short flight from Los Angeles, making it a convenient getaway for Clooney, whose primary home is in Studio City, and for Crawford and Gerber, who live in Malibu most of the year with their school-age son and daughter.
Author: Brad Goldfarb | Photography: Björn Wallanderwww.architecturaldigest.com
Initially the trio thought of creating one house large enough for everyone, but that concept was eventually nixed in favor of two independent structures. “It’s just nice at the end of the night to have your own place to go back to,” Gerber says. Even so, the houses are basically used as a single home, with overflow from one accommodated by the other, and meals and other activities frequently split between the two. “Our lives go back and forth,” Crawford says. “We’ll have cocktails at our place and dinner at George’s, and vice versa.”
Parota-wood beams line the ceiling of the couple’s living room, which features lounge chairs slipcovered in a Libeco linen (at right) and custom-made tripod floor lamps by Richomme; a vintage pillow and throw from John Robshaw enliven the sofa at right, and the rugs are by Lawrence of La Brea.
The two homes were designed and built in tandem, and Clooney happily allowed Gerber and Crawford to take the lead on the project, knowing he could trust their taste implicitly. “Rande has this amazing eye for houses and style,” says Clooney, who nonetheless was a regular presence at meetings and traveled to the site every couple of weeks to give input. “I wanted something that would blend in,” he notes, “something indigenous that would feel in harmony with the setting.”
Los Cabos is a short flight from Los Angeles, making it a convenient getaway for Clooney, whose primary home is in Studio City, and for Crawford and Gerber, who live in Malibu most of the year with their school-age son and daughter.
Another priority, all agreed from the outset, was to avoid the type of hacienda-style villa commonly found along this coast and aim for something more distinctive. The group decided to approach the firm of Ricardo Legorreta, one of Mexico’s preeminent architects, and his son, Víctor, a star in his own right. (Ricardo died in December 2011, two years after the project’s completion, and Víctor maintains the practice.) “A friend of ours had used Ricardo in California and loved working with him,” Gerber says. Adds Crawford, “That property was the first modern house I thought I could live in.”
Made of niwala limestone from Spain, the outdoor living room’s seating is topped by cushions clad in a Ralph Lauren Home fabric.
Like his celebrated mentor Luis Barragán, the elder Legorreta was known for crafting muscular geometric volumes where the interplay of light and shadow is created by large windows and doorways, as well as open-air courtyards. All of those elements are present in the Crawford-Gerber and Clooney residences, which the Legorretas tailored to suit the trio’s relaxed, social lifestyle. “They wanted houses that were very elegant and almost like an art piece,” says Víctor, “but where you would still be comfortable walking around barefoot and in a swimsuit.”
On Crawford and Gerber’s pool terrace, Christian Liaigre director’s chairs surround a custom-made dining table; the Gibson guitar was a gift from Kid Rock, a frequent guest.
Each structure is entered via a long hallway that flows gracefully into a dramatic double-height central courtyard, which connects to a series of sitting areas, dining spaces, an open kitchen, and, of course, a bar—an especially roomy one at Clooney’s, where the friends often assemble to watch sports on the wide-screen TV. And fronting the beach, each house has its own sizable swimming pool and terrace, as well as ample outdoor seating and dining areas. To soften and contrast with the residences’ expanses of cement plaster, many of the spaces feature wood ceilings, beams, and brise-soleils. “Using wood was something we pushed for,” Crawford says. “It’s not the material the Legorretas are best known for, but we wanted the warmth.”
In the master bedroom, a landscape photo by Bowen Smith hangs next to a Jasper chair and ottoman and a Ralph Lauren Home side table.
Tucked away off broad corridors on the second stories are most of the homes’ generously scaled bedrooms—enough to accommodate the numerous guests. “There’s nothing more depressing than being in a big old house by yourself,” remarks Clooney. “You want it filled with friends and family because that’s what makes a home.”
On the other side of the room, portraits of the family, taken by Brian Bowen Smith, are displayed over a custom-made sectional sofa; the striped pillow fabrics are by Ralph Lauren Home, the vintage ikat pillow is from John Robshaw, and the carpet is by Lawrence of La Brea.
The couple’s master bath, which opens to an outdoor shower, has a Legorreta-designed stone tub with Waterworks fittings; the photograph is by Herb Ritts, and the leaf photogram is from the Jalan Jalan Collection.
For the most part, the dwellings keep to a palette of neutrals, with Clooney’s being the darker and clubbier of the two. The tone of his residence starts with the sand-hued Brazilian quartzite that clads portions of the structure, and it’s a vibe that carries through to the courtyard, where wood slats and a forest of dangling lanterns overhead cast moody shadows across the space, as well as to the terrace enclosed by privacy-ensuring vegetation. “If my house were truly open it would present too many opportunities for people to take pictures,” says Clooney (who stars in the new sci-fi thriller Gravity and the upcoming World War II drama The Monuments Men, which he directed).
The Crawford-Gerber home, meanwhile, is brighter, thanks to a pale Spanish limestone and a courtyard that’s fully exposed to the sky. So while the houses share a similar shape and aesthetic, each is its own unique creation. As Crawford puts it, “They’re not twins, but more like sisters or cousins.”
Crawford and Gerber’s pool; Mia Lehrer + Assoc. oversaw the landscaping for both properties.
The pool terrace features Santa Barbara Designs umbrellas, and teak chaise longues custom made by Jasper.
A fair amount of the furniture is built in, as designed by the architects. Integrated tables and seating in the alfresco spaces are made from the same stones as the walls and floors, while bedroom cabinetry, closets, and desks are made from local parota wood. As for the freestanding pieces, Crawford and Gerber didn’t hesitate to seek advice from interior decorators they know. “Fortunately we have a lot of great friends in the design world,” Crawford says. “We just called on them to help fill things out.”
While many items—the upholstered seating in the living areas, the director’s chairs surrounding Crawford and Gerber’s outdoor dining table—were sourced in the U.S., certain key pieces were custom crafted locally, including Clooney’s living room cocktail table and dining room table. The latter, incorporating a large lazy Susan, is a particular favorite of the actor’s since, as he notes, “you don’t want to have to work too hard when you’re down here.”
Twine-wrapped lanterns are suspended from the slatted canopy over Clooney’s courtyard, which features a Legorreta-designed cement-plaster table and L-shaped sofa, the latter topped with cushions in a Holly Hunt fabric and vintage pillows from John Robshaw; the armchairs are by Ralph Lauren Home.
In Clooney’s living room, a slipcovered sofa and armchairs and a pair of stools by Casamidy are grouped around a cocktail table by SL Westwood Design; the Alison Berger–designed surveyor’s lamp is from Holly Hunt, the striped throw pillows are made of a Ralph Lauren Home fabric, the curtains are of a Holly Hunt linen, and the carpet is by Lawrence of La Brea.
As a kind of coda to the project, a year ago Clooney and Gerber, along with another friend, real-estate developer Mike Meldman, launched a premium tequila brand they call, appropriately, Casamigos. “We didn’t just slap our names onto some glue and try to talk people into drinking it,” Clooney says of Casamigos, which produces a blanco and a reposado and has already won a variety of awards. “It’s what we drink whenever we’re at the house.” Or as Gerber puts it, “The best times are when all the bedrooms are filled with guests and everyone’s by the pool with a Casamigos in their hand.” It’s an image that perfectly captures the open-armed spirit of this pair of breezy, sun-kissed getaways.
The actor’s bar area is furnished with a custom-made sectional sofa upholstered in a Ralph Lauren Home fabric and a pair of vintage suede lounge chairs; the barstools were made locally.
Travertine from central Mexico anchors Clooney’s outdoor living area and fire pit
Clooney’s kitchen, by Henrybuilt, is appointed with a Viking cooktop and cabinetry faced in parota.
Clooney’s home theater is outfitted with a 14-foot Da-Lite screen and CinemaTech seats.
Clooney’s bed, featuring a woven-leather headboard, is flanked by Legorreta-designed tables and Lika Moore lamps from Blackman Cruz; the throw pillows are by John Robshaw.
In the actor’s master bath, Urban Archaeology sconces overlook the parota vanity, which has Waterworks sinks and fittings; the credenza is by Marcenaria São Paulo, the stool is by Tucker Robbins, and the rugs are by the Natural Carpet Co.
The actor’s master bath terrace, shaded by a parota brise-soleil, has a travertine Jacuzzi lined in blue mosaic tiles; the side table is by Tucker Robbins, and the lanterns are by Casamidy.
Santa Barbara Designs umbrellas complement custom-made Jasper teak seating on the pool terrace.
The gym is equipped with machines by Life Fitness.
The beds in a guest room include custom-made leather-strap headboards.
A wrought-iron chandelier by Lucca Antiques graces his dining room.