The client, a graphic designer known for the design of avant garde and creative wine packaging, bought this late 1940's ranch house almost 20 years ago. Over the years, she has remodeled her home into a warm, modern retreat and has become a patron of architecture in the process.
Her final remodel involved reworking the arrival to her house from street to door. The first and foremost concern in the design brief was a covered area at the front door to keep her frequent guests dry upon arrival. She also wanted the entry to provide covered storage for firewood and easy access to the recycling cans that had previously been inconveniently and unceremoniously housed in the driveway. Lastly, she wanted stairs that were gradual and minimal so that her elderly parents and injured dogs could easily navigate the walk to the entry.
The entire brief was handled through the addition of a new concrete structure that provides log storage in a recess on one side, accessed off the stair, while an opening from the opposite side houses the trash and recycling containers. A new outdoor room, complete with natural light from skylights, was created by extending the existing roof along the length of the house. A sealed cedar beam placed on top of the concrete structure reinforces the direction of flow up the stairs, while framing a view from the inside of the bamboo wall that separates the client from her neighbor.
The front garden, formerly French and informal in style, was redesigned to create new functional uses and to provide harmony between the landscape and the new construction. A bench designed by the client and her father focuses attention to a basalt rock fountain, offset by a beautiful and productive Meyer lemon tree and a tiered natural landscape. The redwood bench connects visually to the new beam at the entry and easily accommodates seating for eight people, ideal for the early morning tea she shares with her frequent weekend guests from San Francisco.
A series of different textures and subtle green color variations composes the tiered landscape, sitting in juxtaposition to a loosely-laid rock wall that aligns with the beams and directs the visitor down the concrete pad steps. The pads are separated and offset horizontally as to appear to be floating. River rocks laid between the steps add an additional texture and color. The new entry provides a direct and functional, yet decidedly modern, improvement to the existing residence.