A Glass-and-Stucco Retreat Outside Los Angeles Stands Up to the Sun
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A Glass-and-Stucco Retreat Outside Los Angeles Stands Up to the Sun

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By Kelly Dawson
This home’s dramatic roof overhangs, monumental stucco walls, and sliding glass doors respond to its mountainous setting.

Los Angeles isn’t exactly known for its mountains. It’s famous for its beaches, of course, and its wide, palm-lined boulevards, but the owner of this secluded property wasn’t looking for that. Instead, he wanted to be surrounded by the lesser-known beauty of the San Bernardino National Forest, where trees and brush give way to rolling orchards. 

So he settled on Oak Glen, California, which is about an hour and a half—without traffic—from downtown. 

Wild Lilac is set on the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains, far removed from the glitz of Los Angeles. LaHabra Santa Barbara Mission Finish stucco was used for the exterior to protect the home from strong sun. 

Wild Lilac is set on the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains, far removed from the glitz of Los Angeles. LaHabra Santa Barbara Mission Finish stucco was used for the exterior to protect the home from strong sun. 

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"The house was designed for a single owner who wanted to have a family," says Noah Walker, principal and founder of architecture firm Walker Workshop. "He’s a professional athlete, and he was in his early thirties." 

Walker and his team found a site overlooking a valley, where sunlight cascades into wide, open spaces framed by distant peaks. It was clear that the house should be in conversation with its setting: something with clean lines and plenty of paths to the outdoors. 

The home's great room, which includes a living area, kitchen, and dining room, opens seamlessly to the backyard.

The home's great room, which includes a living area, kitchen, and dining room, opens seamlessly to the backyard.

"The home had to be simple in concept but effective in its use of light, and it needed to frame the impressive natural surroundings," Walker continues. Luckily, Walker and his team were met with minimal restrictions: "We had a good amount of freedom." 

The heavy stucco walls provide shade, and they also help separate the more private areas of the home from the public ones. 

The heavy stucco walls provide shade, and they also help separate the more private areas of the home from the public ones. 

They started by considering the amount of sun exposure the home would get throughout the day, and found that the east- and west-facing sunlight was strong. Walker wanted the owner to enjoy the rays, but not be overwhelmed.

"All of the walls running east and west are stucco, which is a heavy material that will protect the house and its inhabitants from that exposure," he says. "The walls running north to south are more consistently glass, allowing for the home to take advantage of the views. The heavy walls also separate the private parts of the house from the public ones." 

Stucco was used on the east- and west-facing walls to shield the home from the penetrating sun.

Stucco was used on the east- and west-facing walls to shield the home from the penetrating sun.

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The public space includes a great room worthy of the name, with an airy living room and kitchen that open onto a backyard with a lap pool. There's also a gym and spa, too. 

The north- and south-facing walls of the home are mostly glass, which provide views of the surrounding mountains. 

The north- and south-facing walls of the home are mostly glass, which provide views of the surrounding mountains. 

"The contrast of the heavy walls with the big sliding doors and deep overhangs makes for a lot of drama," Walker notes. 

The 3,200-square-foot property and its 800-square-foot pool house was completed in 2016, and the owner was able to make it into the hideaway he envisioned. 

A lap pool and gym were installed so that the original owner could have a place to exercise—and entertain.

A lap pool and gym were installed so that the original owner could have a place to exercise—and entertain.

Eventually, though, the original owner sold the property to another family, and Walker hopes that its current residents are as happy as his client once was there. 

Maybe they, too, are getting to know another side of Los Angeles.

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Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Walker Workshop / @noah_walker

Builder: Noah Walker and Walker Workshop

Structural Engineer: Beyond Engineering

Civil Engineer: SiteTech, Inc.

Landscape Design: Sammy Castro Design