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In Orinda, California, a retired nuclear scientist(s) couple purchased the home next door to them thinking to merge the lots into one and build a new modern house in its place and connect it somehow to their existing home. Their existing home was a notable modern design by architect Lee Stuart Darrow which was published in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1958. Maintaining the design qualities of this home and making a large addition to complement it was a major goal expressed to us at the beginning of the project.

In the end, the original 2,500 square foot home was connected by a glass floating bridge that is both a hallway and a spectacular dining room, to a new 3,000 square foot home and two-car garage. The total home complex is now nearly 6,000 square feet in size. More importantly, it gives the owners badly needed guest bedroom space and additional storage.

A nice story was the glass bridge connector was needed so as not to disturb the roots of a large redwood tree that sat between the two houses. The owners planted this tree when they first moved in decades ago, and now the fully-grown tree symbolizes their commitment to this location. The idea of a complex or compound is appealing in terms of how to place the structures on the double-sized lot. The garage acts as an intermediate building creating a foreground element to create a good massing of buildings on the long lot.

Very important to click on the “view before photo” white boxes to get an idea of what was there originally. Also the owners’ family has a long history in Spain and Europe with many family heirlooms being displayed from the 16th century that contrast yet work with the clean, simple, modern aesthetic. Among the big architectural achievements was a sympathetic conversion to an open plan design, with new and remodel construction allowing for high twelve-foot ceilings throughout the new addition or in strategic parts of the old house such as the new kitchen. Large Fleetwood aluminum windows, a double island kitchen with all Miele appliances and a Bocce ball court complete the project.

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: RSR Development
PHOTOGRAPHY: Philip Liang


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