Why is this on TreeHugger?
We never show big single-family houses on TreeHugger anymore. They are not good examples of what we should be building in a low-carbon world, where we don’t need another 6,800 square foot suburban monster. Yet there was something about this house in California’s Santa Monica Canyon that caught my eye; perhaps it is a dream of where I would like to be locked down during a pandemic.
Perhaps that is the attraction, coming as much from the location and the garden as the house; nobody is trapped inside here. The border between inside and outside barely exists when those monster sliding glass walls are retracted.
Key design features include windows that frame the magnificent trees, extended canopy-like, cantilevered eaves, and fully pocketing glass exterior walls that open to a central courtyard to offer the perfect balance of indoor-outdoor living. Every view in the house was designed to captivate with either nature or art.
Perhaps I recognized the architectural lineage; California residential architecture was defined by either the modernist Case Study Houses or the over-the-top work of John Lautner, who studied with Frank Lloyd Wright, and whose successor was Duncan Nicholson, who started this house but died too young, and which was taken over by Kristopher Conner and James Perry of Conner + Perry Architects, who worked for Nicholson.
Perhaps it’s the choice of materials, the use of Eucalyptus wood found on the property, and some of my favorites:
Exterior materials for the new home were selected for their organic nature, ability to age in place, and compatibility with the climate, such as charred wood siding (Shou Sugi Ban), copper, exposed steel, and concrete. Interior materials were chosen to reflect the nature outside, including a mix of massangis grey limestone and french oak for the flooring, weathered brass, blackened steel elements, and a variety of marbles and tiles.
I am not even going to complain about the open kitchen, which feels almost outside with those doors open, though I do have to complain about the giant gas range. At least it is not on the kitchen continent (too big to be called an island) and it has a decently sized exhaust hood.
It’s mostly for show anyway, you can see from the plan that there is a “messy kitchen” (11) behind it that’s bigger than most peoples’ working kitchen. There’s also a home office (4) at the front door so that you can work from home in comfort. The big surprise is how small the living room (7) is, given the size of the house.
I suppose I should be outraged about the bathroom, which is bigger than many studio apartments, but there are things to admire here; I go on about killer bathtubs with no ledge where you can sit, to swing your legs over (the safe way to get in), and this one has a huge deck. The shower has a place where you can actually sit.
In the Great Depression, people flocked to escapist movies, to watch Fred Astaire putting on his top hat, dancers singing, “We’re in the money.” According to Movies as History: Scenes of America, “The depression was depressing. Movies offered an escape from the dreary reality.”
Perhaps in these depressing times, this is on TreeHugger as an escape from dreary reality. But there are also some interesting lessons and beautiful things to look at. Now it’s back to our regular programming.