The Emmons House

Mill Valley, California
Architect
  • Donn Emmons
Landscape Design
  • Lawrence Halprin
Photographer
Location
  • Mill Valley, California
  • Year
  • 1949
  • Square Feet
  • 1300
  • A 1949 architect's shed up on the hill above Richardson Bay in Marin, California. The humble 1300-square-foot "tree house" was designed and built by a young Donn Emmons as a first personal residence for his new family. The house was truly experimental for its time—a main square floor plan with a small open sleeping loft and open kitchen. The true beginning of "small house" regionalism in the Bay Area, this house was an important example of a new style of a paired-down, rural barn language imagined in a modern aesthetic.

    Constructed simply, the structure is made up of concrete slab floors, cedar posts, cedar-clad interior walls, and exterior cedar shingles. The main elevation has 18 feet of operable, orange painted framed glass with facing views of Oakland across the bay. The original landscape was designed by Lawrence Halprin. Unbelievably, almost everything in the house is original—down to the kitchen paper towel holder and the repurposed WWII ship ladder to get to the second level.

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    Modern home with Exterior, House, and Wood Siding Material. Photography by Matthew Millman Photo  of The Emmons House

    Photography by Matthew Millman

    Modern home with Exterior, House, Shingles Roof Material, and Wood Siding Material. Photography by Matthew Millman Photo 2 of The Emmons House

    Photography by Matthew Millman

    Modern home with Living Room, Chair, and Table Lighting. Photography by Matthew Millman Photo 3 of The Emmons House

    Photography by Matthew Millman

    Modern home with Living Room, Standard Layout Fireplace, Wood Burning Fireplace, and Chair. Photography by Matthew Millman Photo 4 of The Emmons House

    Photography by Matthew Millman

    Photography by Matthew Millman Photo 5 of The Emmons House modern home

    Photography by Matthew Millman

    Photography by Matthew Millman Photo 6 of The Emmons House modern home

    Photography by Matthew Millman

    Photography by Matthew Millman Photo 7 of The Emmons House modern home

    Photography by Matthew Millman

    Modern home with Living Room, Light Hardwood Floor, and Sofa. Photography by Matthew Millman Photo 8 of The Emmons House

    Photography by Matthew Millman

    Modern home with Bedroom, Bed, Night Stands, and Table Lighting. Photography by Matthew Millman Photo 9 of The Emmons House

    Photography by Matthew Millman

    Photography by Matthew Millman Photo 10 of The Emmons House modern home

    Photography by Matthew Millman

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