This functional and inviting family house is perched on the edge of a steep slope in a suburban setting. Existing ponderosa pines, bunch-grass and sagebrush were carefully preserved by siting the house away from the street. A private, sunny courtyard merges the kitchen and dining areas with the landscape. Intimate views of vegetation and exposed rock are a welcome contrast to long views towards the river valley below. A robust, dark tinted stucco mass anchors the house to the ground, morphing as one continuous mass to create courtyard walls, terraces, fireplace chimneys and structural shear-walls. Opposite, yet never quite touching, is a muted stucco mass bending and wrapping asymmetrically to frame dramatic views. Interior spaces are defined by modulating the voids between these two contrasting stucco masses. When these stucco masses extend inside the house, the threshold is defined with floor-to-ceiling glass, translucent in some locations for privacy. Deep cantilevered overhangs provide both shade and upper level rock gardens. Carefully located operable windows provide effective cross-ventilation, eliminating reliance on air-conditioning. Double-height dining and living spaces separate upper level bedroom wings. This central spatial "sigh" is naturally lit from two directions, admitting light deep into the interior. Punctuating this open space is a sculptural maple and steel stair, connecting all three levels of the house.
Mirroring the formal language of the exterior, dissimilar interior materials never meet, separated by thin reveals. A refined exterior palette of smooth concrete, cement stucco, aluminum windows and red cedar is paired with an interior of white gypsum-board with maple and slate flooring; the theme of a two-tone stucco exterior is repeated inside by interlocking cherry and maple millwork. Built-in cherry ledges double as overflow seating and toy chests. From the interior, it is easy to forget you are in a conventional subdivision. Calm and simple, with moments of playfulness and subtlety, one surprising twist is a sound-proof recording studio hidden under the garage. One of the clients is a cover-band drummer on the side.
Photo Credit: Undine Prohl