When the new owners of this 1960s house located near Woodside, California, first saw the real estate listing, they looked past the hodgepodge of existing finishes that came courtesy of a previous builder’s remodel. Instead, the couple embraced the home’s potential, starting with the exterior.
"It's a privileged site because it has a very nice, large deck with views of the wooded area around it, and each of the rooms is kind of oriented towards the view," says architect Luat Duong of ltd Architecture. The goal of the new owners’ gut remodel became to "build it up as minimally as possible while maintaining the essence of the floor plan and accentuating the views," says Duong.
After: Front Door
To foster a more generous connection to the site, Duong and the owners replaced standard or small window and door units with enlarged and elongated openings. Now, a long and linear ribbon window runs the length of the kitchen counter. In the living room, the walls were thickened to accommodate large glass pocket doors for a seamless transition between the interior and the deck.
Before: Living Room
After: Living Room
In their first conversation, Duong introduced the homeowner to the work of John Pawson, a British architectural designer known for minimal design. Once the owner looked Pawson up, says Duong, "He was drawn to that aesthetic right away. And since I also work in that vein, we clicked right away with some of our conversations in terms of the aesthetics of house."
Without altering the floor plan much, the team gutted the interior in order to introduce a tightly pared-back palette consisting of white walls, black fixtures and window frames, and light-washed wood tones. For instance, the previous dark flooring was swapped out for wide plank, white-washed European oak, which runs continuously throughout, its natural patina some of the only pattern in the main rooms of the house.
Such simplicity might seem straightforward, but instilling it in a post-World War II house with crooked walls and uneven floors takes a talented team. Duong paired up with builder Devlin McNally Construction, as they’ve collaborated on such projects before.
"The clients were great, and they were very supportive of a rigorous design and detailing," says Duong. "Some of those simpler details are the ones that have to be very considered. It was a very collaborative effort between the contractor and ourselves."
More Before & After:
Architect: ltd Architecture
Builder: Devlin McNally Construction
Structural Engineer: L Wong Engineering
Lighting Design: E Fitzgerald Electric
Cabinetry Design and Installation: Sozo Studios
Shades: J Geiger
Flooring: Hayasa Flooring