Samantha Wang and her husband, Christophe, spent two years searching for the perfect parcel of land in Silicon Valley. They had been living in Menlo Park but ached for more space and privacy—without having to lose a sense of community with the surrounding neighborhood. They found just that with a three-acre site in Portola Valley, a quiet enclave less than an hour’s drive from San Francisco, close to miles of trails and open space preserves.
"Christophe grew up spending his summers at his grandparents’ farm in France, so we valued building our home somewhere that felt rural with the magic of the countryside, while at the same time being extremely accessible to Silicon Valley and San Francisco," says Samantha, who is a venture capitalist and an investor in outdoor living company Chicory.
With a dream home in mind, the couple tore down the property’s existing residence and partnered with EYRC Architects to design a low-slung house with big, open spaces that would encourage their three children to play, facilitate family time, and bring their friends together. Just as important, the 6,039-square-foot Westridge Residence takes full advantage of its natural setting, which includes meadows, trees, a creek, and foraging deer.
"The owners were very deliberate in the site they chose, characterized by south-facing slopes and heritage oak trees," says principal Bryn Garrett of EYRC Architects, "which were celebrated in the final design with framed views from many interior rooms, and provided natural shading and screening of the private areas."
Having lived in a multi-story residence, Samantha and Christophe were also deliberate in specifying that Westridge be mostly on one level to create a deeper sense of ease and help the family feel connected to each other. As a result, the glass, wood, and concrete volume "stretches in a sinuous band across the natural ridge of the property," says Garrett. "This not only minimized excavations and unnecessary earthwork, but it was effective in offering the best views of the rural landscape from every room in the house."
An entry courtyard can double as an outdoor entertainment space and features hand-laid rows of cobblestones "meant to be reminiscent of the French countryside, where Christophe spent some of his youth," says Takashi Yanai, partner at EYRC Architects. Near the entry, an ADU with its own living room welcomes guests to stay.
The courtyard offers sightlines that continue across the main living space and through the floor-to-ceiling glass doors to the expansive view beyond. Connected to the great room, the bedroom wing curves toward the wooded banks of the creek, creating a more intimate relationship with the landscape; it holds three bedrooms, including the primary suite, and a playroom. A small lower level holds an office, a media room, and a wine cellar.
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"The house provides everything that was ‘required’ but is also a stage that lets life unfold in ways that are magical and beyond what could have been imagined," says Yanai. "It’s a real sanctuary."
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