The Emmons House

Mill Valley, California
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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    Photography by Matthew Millman Photo  of The Emmons House modern home

    Photography by Matthew Millman

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    Photography by Matthew Millman

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    Photography by Matthew Millman

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    Photography by Matthew Millman

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    Photography by Matthew Millman

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    Photography by Matthew Millman

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    Photography by Matthew Millman

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    Photography by Matthew Millman

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    Photography by Matthew Millman

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    Photography by Matthew Millman