A steep and somewhat treacherous mountainside site led architects Steven House and Amena Hajjar to develop a courtyard plan that wraps a serene, Japanese-inspired garden. During the day, the house reaches out to stunning views of Mount Tamalpais, just north of San Francisco, but at night activities turn inward to the courtyard. The owners wanted the sound of water to draw people into the space. The sound of the rushing water echoes off the three walls enclosing the courtyard, evoking a “Zen feeling that's not overpowering,” Hajjar explains. A concrete extension of the dining room window sill, the 7-by-5-foot fountain occupies center stage in the courtyard and can be seen from the great room, the daughters' bedroom, and a hilltop spa opposite, as well as from the dining room. “I wanted the waterfall itself to be a visual plane—to make a statement that's as strong as the building,” Hajjar says.