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Outside the Box
Sophia Markoulakis | Photo: Paul Dyer | May 2, 2018
A harmonious effort between architect, designer and client creates a cohesive, contemporary home that flows from the inside out.
Sited along a creek and opening to a meadow on an oak-studded private lot on the Peninsula, a 1920s-era 6,400-square-foot ranch-style home was transformed from a disjointed, dark abode into an architecturally rich, light-filled residence that integrates the indoors and outdoors. It was a collaborative effort by architect Andrew Mann, designer Jennifer Jones and the homeowner, who worked alongside the pros to decipher this design dilemma and implement a bold yet comfortable interior that spatially connects to the outside with porches and decks. “They really spoiled me,” says the client of Mann and Jones. “It was my first large-scale project, and working with them was relaxed yet professional. We all worked so well together.”
Mann and his eponymous firm are known for solving architectural quagmires through pragmatic strategies, which include space sequencing and volume creation with light. His team was tasked with opening up the home’s interior architecture (without adding square footage) by highlighting the positives such as the expansive windows that run the length of the home and reconfiguring the negatives (as in the choppy layout, thanks to previous ill-conceived additions). “Over time, the home’s main living spaces became this circuitous, squirrely floor plan,” says Mann. “There was no clear circulation or connection between rooms.”
He describes the central hub of the home as the epitome of rustic Northern California architecture, and maintaining that while correcting the flow was a priority. To do so, Mann devised an axial spine that runs through the living, dining and family rooms as well as the kitchen. “Andrew was a genius, as he was able to take the central rooms that were originally disconnected and create this circular design that connects them without creating one large open space,” says the homeowner. “He created a home that now feels like it was always this way.”
By partially closing off the foyer from the main living areas, the former became a blank canvas for Mann, Jones and the client to effect high drama without overly impacting the rest of the house. The space—which served as the starting point for colors and textures that slowly unfold—features peacock-blue lacquered walls (painted in Benjamin Moore’s Pacific Sea Teal) and a charcoal ceiling. “We experimented with a lot of dark grays and landed with this one; it needed to almost disappear to highlight the blue lacquer,” Jones explains. The nearby living room ceiling is a lighter gray and transitions nicely until your gaze focuses on the views outside.
When it came to outfitting the rooms, Jones took a thoughtful approach to blending the homeowner’s love of traditional furniture with contemporary art and lighting, along with graphic accents. Strong patterns run throughout, from the shadow play on the second-floor deck to the living room’s exposed beams and herringbone oak floors. Additional geometric motifs are found in the master bath’s Moroccan-inspired Eros mosaic tile by Ann Sacks and the family room’s Mamounia Sky rug from The Rug Company.
“The house is proof of what can happen when a client is willing to take chances,” says Jones. Though the interior palette was cool with lots of blues and grays, the designer observes that the client had an eye for mixing prints and was keen to experiment, and that “she trusted her gut instincts. Even though she has sophisticated taste, she still has to have a practical eye,” says Jones, noting that this busy household includes four children under 10. Hence, the family room is not precious and was driven by the need for a place to gather. Says the homeowner: “I told Jen, ‘This room will become a wrestling ring, and we will hold impromptu dance recitals right here on the floor.’”
The homeowner adds that her favorite spot in the house is the master suite. “I always wanted to live in a hotel,” she says. “What Jen created is a room that has serenity and calmness, but is just across the hall from the kids.” The subtle color shift from blue and white to plums and grays contributed to the tranquil feel of the space, and the mixing of textures and materials, such as the wool-upholstered chairs and the various metal finishes on lighting and hardware, still imbues a bit of flair. “Really, the end product is only as successful as the process,” says the client of her now airy, beautifully appointed home.
Originally published in the April/May issue of Silicon Valley