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The house has a single-story design in the front, but there are two stories in the back as it spreads out across a steep incline.
"The building is modest, but it unfolds like a geode when you go inside," says Alter. He — along with partner Ernesto Cragnolino and architects Tim Whitehill, Russel Krepart, Matt Slusarek and Jessica Connolly — designed the house to avoid blocking the views or light of any other houses in the development.
"Each material was used in its own nature," says Alter. While brick was used to enclose certain parts of the home, it was also used decoratively. Here, brickwork on the front entryway plays with light and shadows.
The steel and glass lining the front entry hall contrasts with the exterior brickwork. The use of steel throughout the home adds lightness and allowed for expansive windows.
A central courtyard, just visible through the glass entryway, allows the home to center in on nature.
"The house was built as an enclave," says Alter. It's its own special world, he says, so that once you leave the neighborhood and walk across the pool of water into this home, "everything outside is left behind you."
Part of the reason the clients purchased this home was because of its fantastic view. From this vantage point, it's clear that the house drops off very steeply in the back. The land drops straight down to the river, and you can see across the treetops to the cliff face on the other side.
The kitchen was designed with no upper cabinets to keep the space open and clean, but lower cabinets offer plenty of storage. The kitchen island is made with Caesarstone's Blizzard, and the stone floors are Israeli Blue.
The clients had a moderate budget and wanted to get a crisp and clean look while still using off-the-shelf materials. "Working with commonplace materials can make it more difficult to create a certain result," says Alter. "You have to make sure to articulate the materials in a certain way."
While the style of the home is certainly inspired by mid-century modern architecture, it also drew inspiration from the Case Study Houses on the West Coast. In many ways, these homes were less about the buildings themselves, and more about the way they inspired people to live. Alter and Cragnolino wanted to create a home that simply made the clients' lives better.
The master bathroom is open and full of natural light. An open shower lined in a subtle glass tile, built-in cabinetry, and a marble countertop in Calcutta Gold maintain the streamlined aesthetic of the rest of the home.
Photography by Whit Preston Photography and Paul Finkel of Piston Design
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