Ar­chi­tec­ture’s two lat­est looks can ex­ist in har­mony

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Contents - Words FLEUR BRITTEN


If you want a build­ing to truly soar and sweep (like, for ex­am­ple, Lon­don’s new De­sign Mu­seum by John Paw­son, with its pa­rab­o­loid roof), then rec­ti­lin­ear con­ven­tions are sim­ply not go­ing to cut it. An­gles add drama and height, while curves soften the im­pact. To­gether, they in­tro­duce emo­tion to a home. ‘Al­though I am a stu­dent of the Bauhaus move­ment, and my projects usu­ally re­sist an­gles and curves, work­ing on this house freed up all of my nor­mal con­straints,’ says San Fran­cisco-based Julie Dowl­ing, the ar­chi­tect be­hind this beach­side home. ‘I found that I could be more play­ful.’

THE HOUSE The steep peaks of this artist’s cot­tage on Muir Beach, around an hour’s drive from San Fran­cisco, are formed by the dou­ble A-frame struc­ture: ‘a typ­i­cal mid-cen­tury style of build­ing de­signed to suit a mid-cen­tury town,’ says Julie. The three pas­sions guid­ing this project were, she ex­plains, ‘mid-cen­tury style, con­tem­po­rary ar­chi­tec­ture and the ocean’. Ac­cord­ingly, she de­cided to pre­serve the home’s struc­ture, but ‘scooped out’ the in­te­rior, re­mov­ing all non-struc­tural walls and ex­pos­ing as much of the wooden ceil­ing as pos­si­ble. ‘The only things left were an­gles and curves,’ she says. The one main ad­di­tion was a cus­tom-built spi­ral stair­case that cuts ‘ like a corkscrew’ through the home’s three floors, its black-metal lines work­ing as a sleek coun­ter­bal­ance to the sharp­ness of the roof.

Dug into a hill with a wooded national park to the rear and com­mand­ing views of the ocean at the front, this house is sur­rounded by nat­u­ral in­spi­ra­tion. Julie chose to open up the ocean­fac­ing win­dows com­pletely, while clos­ing off the win­dows on ei­ther side of the build­ing for pri­vacy. She also se­lected wal­nut floor­ing to mimic the nearby red­wood trees, and painted the walls white (‘Sim­ply White’ by Ben­jamin Moore) to en­hance the sense of space in the open-plan liv­ing area. dowl­ing-stu­


‘I wanted to bring the sense of an en­chanted for­est into the house, while main­tain­ing the in­tegrity of my ar­chi­tec­tural lan­guage,’ Julie ex­plains. The fur­ni­ture choices are a mix­ture of mid-cen­tury pieces that ‘speak to the build­ing’ and softly curved de­signs, which tem­per the house’s an­gles. To warm the place, she chose greys and or­ganic tex­tures: wool, cash­mere and mo­hair. And then, there are the fun el­e­ments: Jean Prouvé lights and cof­fee ta­bles that turn into foot­stools when their wal­nut tray tops are re­moved. The over­all ef­fect? ‘It’s mod­ern, but there’s a re­laxed soft­ness,’ says Julie. ‘It’s not a spare, white box.’ Stock­ist de­tails on p167

Pho­togra phy JOE FLETCHE R

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