This home was designed for an artistic couple who were downsizing from a home in a more established neighborhood to this property in a more eclectic area. We find this sort of design program is more and more common as the Baby Boomers age. The steeply sloping lot was chosen for its view of the hills beyond and because the owner saw possibilities for native landscaping when the project was done. They wanted to keep costs at a minimum in order to keep monthly bills low and change to a more relaxed lifestyle where they could pursue their art more of the time.

They wanted something that expressed their individuality and did NOT look like a “subdivision house”. Natural light was very important to them. The topography of the lot required a house that was wide but not deep in order to keep foundation costs as reasonable as possible. For reasons of indoor air quality the garage needed to be a detached structure. There needed to be a screened dining porch. And, of course, we needed to make a home that easily encouraged their creativity – something that would be the antithesis of “stuffy” but rather almost studio-like. All had to be accomplished in well under 2000 square feet. The main emphasis was on capturing the view and light this rough hillside site gave to them.

With no space for a proper gallery for the wife’s own and her collected art, we widened the hallway and added a clerestory window, high shelf and accent wall with contrasting paint color to display paintings and prints. The husband has a mini-stage for playing guitar with lots of natural light, tall ceilings and inspirational views. Both owners share an office with views to the valley below so even bill paying can be an aesthetic experience. An extension of the garage with barn doors to open it up for air flow serves as a workshop and “messy project” space. When not painting or playing guitar, the couple is often in the kitchen which overlooks the spacious great room. This combined space belies the small size of the home making it feel much larger than others of its size. Contemporary light coves of gypsum board shelves suspended with metal rods in great room and master, supplement natural light when necessary. Light colors, suspended cabinets and closet walls that don’t go all the way to the ceiling help create the illusion of space in the master bath.

While budget wouldn’t allow more extravagant energy saving features, a metal roof will allow for future rain catchment; the owner is using drought resistant buffalo grass and other native plants to cut down on water use; we used bamboo floors, Hardie-plank and Hardie-panel siding in interesting patterns, local limestone stepping stones, man-made solid surface countertops and other sustainable materials to minimize impact on the environment. Low impact on the environment pleases the soul; low impact on budget is kind to the pocket book and leaves the owners free to enjoy their studio for more creative pursuits than consuming fossil fuels and making money.

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