Petite spaces are given a sense of functionality with smart lighting.
San Francisco–based lighting designer Terry Ohm’s prefab in the Northern California town Clearlake is an exercise in proportions. An 800-square-foot version of Taalman Koch Architecture’s iT House, Ohm’s residence features glass walls and an extruded aluminum frame. “The critical things in all of its spaces, and mostly in the kitchen, are function and scale,” Ohm says. His guiding principle was to design everything to be visually simple, from the materials to the proportions. The smallest appliance width Ohm could find was 24 inches, so he used that measurement as a baseline for the cabinetry, island, and work-space around the sink. With the help of furniture maker David Pierce, Ohm then designed the casework using Monterey cypress for the cabinets and island. He opted for Squak Mountain Stone for the countertops because of its matte finish.
By balancing the light from a variety of sources and ensuring that every corner was illuminated, Ohm increased the feeling of expansiveness in the 12-and-a-half-by-14-foot kitchen. Ohm installed 50-watt MR16 halogen bulbs in cylindrical fixtures over the kitchen island and used linear spread lenses to direct the beams across the room. He then positioned LED strips along the back edges of the open shelving above the sink creating a perimeter of brightness. “If you only illuminate the center and have dark corners, the room starts to feel like a cave,” he says. As a bonus, the light softens the glass-and-steel interior.
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By balancing the light from a variety of sources and ensuring that every corner was illuminated, Terry Ohm increased the feeling of expansiveness in the 12-and-a-half-by-14-foot kitchen.
A longtime fan of the Case Study houses of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, Terry Ohm was attracted to the iT House, by Taalman Koch Architecture, for the design’s “transparency and minimalism.” His customized, smaller-scale version stands on a rural plot of land in Lake County, California. Ohm sits on his broad front steps often and appreciates their strong visual impact: “The house is so little, you’ve gotta go for grand wherever you can get it!”
The aircraft cables that crisscross the windows provide structural support for the house—and an unexpected benefit. “They’re handy for drying laundry!” says Ohm. The custom silk drapes help control sun exposure, as does the deep roof overhang. “It’s only in the winter that the sun starts to angle in,” says Ohm.
Ohm enlisted Ohio Design to fabricate the fleet of minimalist, Donald Judd–inspired furniture, including a desk and bookshelf in his home office and the sofa and coffee table in his living room.
The floor lamp is Ohm’s design, made by Phoenix Day.
Ohm searched out two-foot-wide appliances for his tiny kitchen, including a fridge from Fagor and an oven from Verona.
“I’m interested in designing things that are exactly what they need to be and nothing more.” —Architect Linda Taalman