Custom Home More Than 5,000 Square Feet / Merit Award
Indoor/outdoor living, a voluminous art studio, gallery space, housekeeper's quarters; in an 8,000-square-foot home, one can have it all. Fitting it all into a suburban grid without sacrificing privacy is the trick, and this house makes it look easy. Taking advantage of a generous corner lot, architects Stephen Ehrlich and Takashi Yanai located the garage entrance at the side of the house, and a half-story below street level. That, Ehrlich says, left the entry yard open for sculpture, landscaping, and a meandering walk that "creates an interesting journey to the front door."
Private outdoor spaces, protected by garden walls, occupy the back and side yards. A broad patio crosses the rear of the house, opening the kitchen and family room onto a shaded outdoor cooking-and-dining area and the master bedroom onto its own sundeck. A sculptural fountain pool marks the boundary at the rear of the property, and an intimate Japanese garden turns a narrow side yard into a visual refuge for the main stair hall and home office.
Interiors reflect the owners' interest in art, especially the 2,500-square-foot third floor, which is devoted to a painting studio and viewing room. Main-level spaces, with their broad expanses of unbroken wall surface, constitute a live-in gallery. Both areas presented the challenge of managing natural light for very specific purposes. North-facing glass provides glare-free light at the studio level. High windows, north glazing, and deep overhangs modulate light at the main level without cutting the connection with the outdoors. It was the seamlessness of that connection that most impressed our judges, who called this "a real California house. You can hardly tell whether you're inside or outside."