Located just north of Silicon Valley, Woodside is a peaceful, primarily rural town with large swaths of forested land marked by two-lane country roads and the occasional home popping up above the trees. For one growing family, it was the perfect spot to settle down.
While expecting twins, the couple sought to design and build a home that was casual, stylish, and functional—a place where their children could roam, and one that would be suitable for hosting large parties.
They purchased a three-acre plot dotted with 80-foot-tall oak trees, and quickly got to work with Mike McCabe of Walker Warner Architects. While it was undoubtedly a beautiful lot, the existing house exhibited "poor usage of space," McCabe recalls. "The house was plopped right in the middle, making it hard to understand the full length and breadth of the site when you first arrive there."
Furthermore, it’s a heavily constricted piece of land with a flood zone and high ground water on one end. Laying the septic system and working around the existing oaks would prove to be challenging.
The couple had slightly differing perspectives when it came to the architectural vision—one more contemporary, and the other more traditional. McCabe worked with interior designer David Oldroyd, owner and principal of ODADA, to figure out how to respond to those variables.
They were attracted to the vernacular of agricultural forms, and since the land was previously a dairy farm, this design direction resonated with everyone. "We respected those forms, but we didn’t want to recreate them exactly," McCabe says.
The exterior is barn-like in nature and slightly more traditional than the interior, with clean lines clad in western red cedar and a painted metal roof. To further tie the design into the site, McCabe created a custom stain for the siding to match the color of the adjacent oak trunks, while the painted roof plays on the shadows cast by the oaks. Colors were also pulled from rocks found on the property. "We were very careful in our material choices, and we situated them in the site so that the house feels timeless and appropriate," McCabe says.
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"The architecture in some ways becomes a stage; it’s subservient and frames this amazing landscape," he adds.
McCabe went with oak ceilings for the interior, as "stained western red cedar has a tendency to go orange," he says. The interiors are more contemporary, without being stark—they feature Spanish sandstone flooring, a hand-raked sandstone fireplace, and painted cabinetry. Custom-designed wooden room dividers and slatted screens let light in while partitioning the large house for a greater sense of intimacy.
When it came to the furnishings, "the inspiration was the land, the trees, brush, grasses, the sky, and the overall natural spirit, color, and smell of the place," Oldroyd remarks. "At every turn, we reminded ourselves where we were—and we reached to the landscape for texture, color, hue, mood, shape, and line." Natural and family-friendly materials were used to meet both the couple’s needs and the "aesthetic demands of the surroundings," the designer comments.
Grand formal living and dining rooms welcome guests at the couple’s infamous parties, and the home also has a much more casual family room, kitchen, and dining nook that pulls in the colors of the surrounding grasses and sky.
Each room acts as flexible indoor/outdoor space with an inherent mood of quiet simplicity. The interior design references "the dual slope of the roofs on the various pavilions and the original farm buildings," Oldroyd says. The home is one the family can easily continue to grow into and adapt over the years.
More from Walker Warner Architects:
Builder/General Contractor: Scott Vreeland, Redhorse Constructors Inc.
Structural Engineer: Chris Johnson, GFDS Engineers
Lighting Design: Eric Johnson, Eric Johnson Associates
Interior Design: David Oldroyd, ODADA
Cabinetry Design: Arc Wood & Timbers
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