Los Altos Residence
From Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
Located in an established Los Altos neighborhood, this single-family residence is a modernist reinterpretation of the Northern California ranch style home the clients desired. Nestled amongst neighboring houses and a landscape of mature trees, the residence maintains a sense of privacy and offers this young family reprieve from the bustle of daily activities.
Designed around an existing Japanese maple tree—a vestige of the previous landscape and the relationship shared between residence and site—the house takes full advantage of the Silicon Valley’s mild climate. While windows and doors fill interiors with air and light, they also frame views of the diverse flora surrounding the home. In the living room, a wall of sliding glass doors blurs the line between indoors and out, opening to the back patio overlooking a meadow of tall grasses. In the master bedroom, one can hear the trickling of water and quiet rustling of trees coming from the meditation garden just outside. It is these moments, when the outdoors extend inside, that help anchor the building to site.
The main house is composed of a central double-height living and communal space that runs parallel to the street, shielding the home from the quiet thoroughfare. This common area, which includes a modest kitchen and place for family gathering, connects two single-story volumes, each containing a variety of private and functional spaces. With views from every room, one’s eye is easily drawn outside, where a linear pool and board-formed concrete garden wall, located along the eastern edge of the property, visually connects the main building to the guesthouse beyond.
The home is detailed with a natural, crisp palette, reflecting the client’s fondness for simplicity and tranquility. A variety of woods, including Douglas fir, western red cedar, and gray elm, are used throughout and provide a sense of warmth directly contrasted by exposed structural steel, polished concrete floors, and a textured concrete fireplace. A locally sourced Claro walnut table, measuring 10-feet in length, creates a comfortable dining space, its live edge balancing the clean lines of the living room. Additional furnishings reinforce the client’s desire for a minimalist environment.
The simple layout and detailing of this single-story residence, with its numerous connections to the surrounding landscape, create a home that is both calm and restful for the family to enjoy for many years to come.