When Abbie and Bill Burton hired Marmol Radziner to design their prefab weekend home, their two requests were “simple-simple, replaceable materials,” says Abbie—such as concrete floors (poured offsite in Marmol Radziner's factory) and metal panel siding—and “the ability to be indoors or outdoors with ease.” Deep overhangs provide shade and protection from rain, so the Burtons can leave their doors open year-round and hang out on their 70-foot-long deck even in inclement weather. They visit the house once a month, usually for a week at a time, with Vinnie and Stella, their rescue Bernese Mountain dogs. Their two adult children occasionally join them. The couple hopes to one day retire here.
In the foreground are Float beanbag chairs and poufs from Paola Lenti. Mamagreen sofas nestle near the house on the sun-dappled deck. A 9.5-foot-tall shade cloth curtain seals off the entire length of the house when the couple is away, keeping the heat out of the interior and preventing accidental bird suicides against the floor-to-ceiling glass walls.
Located just off the kitchen, this room was originally designed for dining—the adjustable Ligne Roset Crescendo coffee table can be raised to 28.75 inches—but most days Bill and Abbie prefer to eat outside or at their casual Caesarstone-topped kitchen island. Today the space serves as a sunny reading spot and guest room, with a convertible futon (from Ligne Roset, since discontinued) and a set of leather-and-steel Paulistano armchairs from Design Within Reach.
The Mikado 2 sofa by Hans Hopfer for Roche Bobois is a bright and cheery centerpiece in the otherwise sedate living room. The nubby wool Photon rug from Design Within Reach warms up the expanse of concrete. The framed drawing is by the Los Angeles–based artist Daniel Brice. Huge sliding doors open the house to the outdoors and virtually double the Burtons' living space.
Passionate cooks, the Burtons installed a Mugnaini wood-fired oven in their kitchen and had a custom Grillery fireplace-barbecue built into the concrete block wall on their deck. Beneath the grill they store oak firewood collected from their property.
Though the Burtons are landscape architects, they took an intentionally hands-off approach to their own land, which is part of the 1,800-acre Long Valley Ranch, a former cattle ranch. “We made very few moves, beyond planting fifty olive trees and some native shrubs and grasses,” says Bill. “We wanted nothing in the landscape to be edible or pretty, nothing to attract animals to the house.” Nevertheless, they’ve spotted plenty of fauna thanks to motion-activated “trail cams” they use to spy on local wildlife. To date they’ve snapped photos of mountain lions, bobcats, wild pigs, and a bear.
The Burton Residence is comprised of ten recycled steel frame modules ranging in size from 25 feet and 1 inch by 8 feet and 9 inches to 48 feet and 9 inches by 8 feet and 9 inches. The modules were trucked to the site with all walls, appliances, fixtures, and cabinets already installed, then craned into place to form an L arrangement; bolted together; and finally welded to steel plates on the concrete block foundation.Click here to view our extended slideshow chronicling how the residence was assembled in a single day.