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plywood perfected

San Francisco architect Nick Noyes, AIA, creats beauty from humble materials. Plywood-lined interior walls take on an abstract, aquatic quality, with ribbons of darker and lighter shades forming mesmerizing patterns throughout the space.

plywood perfected

San Francisco architect Nick Noyes, AIA, creats beauty from humble materials. Plywood-lined interior walls take on an abstract, aquatic quality, with ribbons of darker and lighter shades forming mesmerizing patterns throughout the space.

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    Cesar Rubio

    The building's simple, mustard-hued forms neatly intersect at a right angle. Buffed pine floor planks come from the same family-owned factory as the patterned plywood wall panels. And clean-lined fabric light fixtures add a modern touch.

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    Cesar Rubio

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    Cesar Rubio

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    first floor

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    second floor

Many an architect dreams of creating beauty from humble materials. But making it happen is another matter, one that requires great skill and patience. And an understanding client doesn't hurt. San Francisco architect Nick Noyes, AIA, had all three factors in his favor when designing this weekend house in Healdsburg, Calif. His clients, landscape designer Alexis Woods and wine producer Daniel Donahoe, requested that he use materials from a plywood factory owned by Woods' family. The resulting plywood-lined interior walls take on an abstract, aquatic quality, with ribbons of darker and lighter shades forming mesmerizing patterns throughout the space. “They had low-key aspirations,” Noyes says. “The plywood was in keeping with that idea.”

Not just any plywood would do. Workers at the factory pulled out the most interesting pieces over a period of a year or so, setting them aside for Woods and Donahoe. Then Noyes and builder Brian Horick worked together to make sure the joints between the panels would line up with the window and door joints, in order to avoid a haphazard effect. The plywood's end grain frames openings from room to room. “It's all very considered,” Noyes explains. Glossy white trim and ceilings provide a crisp counterpoint to the plywood's roughness.

The home's straightforward, L-shaped layout catalyzes its casual style. A one-story wing with an open plan functions as a window-lined gathering space. “It almost feels like an old schoolhouse,” Noyes says. The private rooms occupy the other, two-level wing. Both volumes are housed within a pair of pitched-roof forms based loosely on local barns and farmhouses. Overhangs and cross-ventilation keep the interiors cool during summer, as does a west-facing sunscreen made of old grapevine stakes from the surrounding vineyard.

project: Healdsburg Residence, Healdsburg, Calif.

architect: Nick Noyes Architecture, San Francisco

general contractor: Horick Builders, Petaluma, Calif.

landscape designer: Alexis Woods Landscape Design, San Francisco

color consultant: Helen Eging Color Consultant, Healdsburg

cabinetmaker: Shaum Sinawi, San Francisco

project size: 2,264 square feet

site size: 40 acres

construction cost: Withheld

photography: Cesar Rubio

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