Dwell Escapes is supported by Genesis. We selected this escape because its streamlined, daylit living areas and minimalist palette of metal and wood echo the luxurious interior of the Genesis GV80.
Robert Galishoff originally hired architects Brett Woods and Joe Dangaran to bring his single-story midcentury home back to life, but as they began to work together on the Clear Oak Residence, the three men saw the potential for something more. What began as a simple renovation turned into a major one, and through a successful partnership, the homeowner and architects created a reverent sanctuary in the sky.
The 5,000-square-foot single-story home sits on a hill overlooking the San Fernando Valley—so spectacular views were a given. However, Woods and Dangaran wanted to utilize architectural strategies to take the views to a new level and give the home a character—an ethos—that would captivate all who entered.
Woods drew inspiration from the first time he entered the Pantheon and looked up, hoping to create a similar emotional reaction in visitors.
Dangaran describes it like this: "We were trying to reduce the noise and let these spaces be filled by the landscape, sun, furniture, and the energy of the occupant—all those things come in and fill in the architecture, which serves as the background."
The experiential design begins outside the home in an arrival sequence meant to produce a feeling of relaxation.
"When you walk up to Clear Oak, you come in from the entry gate, walk past this beautifully finished carport, and then reach a garden area which has mature bamboo plants and other low-water landscaping, before you pass a water feature which trickles," explains Robert.
Visitors enter through a large teak front door with a custom-made brass handle wrapped in an exquisite leather sheath, and find their attention drawn immediately to the sky. It shines through glass doors that spread across the entire back wall. The infinity pool, plant-filled backyard, and mountains—framed by white poles and an outdoor overhang—draw one forward to stand under the warmth of the sun that shines through a roof puncture on the outdoor patio.
The puncture, which acts as a sundial throughout the day, is one of many creative window elements found throughout the house. Whether it’s a skylight that mirrors a 15-foot kitchen island, an expanse of glass in the bedroom, or a glazed wall on one side of a narrow hallway, these transparent layers guide the eye upward, evoking the fascination that the ancient Greeks and Romans had with the mysteries of the sky.
"We’re interested in the sky, and we’re connected to the sky—whether that’s an interior experience or an exterior experience," says Dangaran.
To maximize the effect, Robert, Woods, and Dangaran conducted sun studies to see exactly how the sun and shadows might display inside depending on their choice of window placements or structural framing.
Woods notes, "The views are obvious. There’s mountains. There’s canyons. There's a bunch of beautiful trees. I think we’re challenging an obvious view by saying, ‘Look up and look at the sky, and let’s frame this moment.’"
To create a flow through the house and draw the eye to the skylights or glass windows, the architects utilized a simplified palette of materials: anodized aluminum, teak, plaster, and travertine.
"You’ll see that the interior floors and the exterior floors are all travertine," said Dangaran. "When the doors are open, there’s a physical consistency." The travertine guides the eye beyond the glass barrier to the outside, and in the bathroom, it’s used in a wall behind the tub to draw the eye to a skylight above.
As for the use of teak, Robert explains that it was chosen because it’s a strong and durable wood that stands up against the Southern California elements, while also bringing warmth and elegance to the midcentury home.
"When you're in Rome, travertine is everywhere," says Robert, noting that if it lasted in Rome for centuries, it would last in the Clear Oak residence too. "Travertine and teak were obvious choices here for longevity and for beauty, not for value."
The use of teak and travertine, which is broken up by white plaster walls and artworks from Robert’s extensive collection, creates a seamless design that’s beautiful without being what Robert calls "showy:" "I’m not showy, the architect’s style isn’t showy, and midcentury architecture is everything but showy—the genesis of that design theme was really modern materials used in economical ways."
The result is a home that has character at every turn, like a wine room hidden behind a solid door, brass detailing on teak walls for hanging art, and creative landscaping strategies that make the backyard look larger than it is.
"The house is a peninsula, floating above the city. You can see the freeway in the distance and the mountains—but you don’t feel like you’re exposed, because the landscape is so protective. You don’t feel like you’re on a hillside," said Woods.
Instead, you feel far from the busy streets of Los Angeles, drifting away from the ground and closer to Helios’s chariot as it crosses the sky.
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