Walk through the front door of most houses and the first thing you see is a two-story foyer, a grand staircase or perhaps a formal living room. But at HGTV Dream Home 2014, you find yourself overlooking the backyard patio through a wall of glass.
“We wanted to make the statement, right off the bat, that this house is focused on an indoor-outdoor lifestyle,” says project architect David Bourke. That's why, in so many ways, his design breaks traditional architectural molds to focus attention not on interior rooms — but on “rooms” that sit outside the building’s walls
Perhaps the most distinctive element of the house is its unusual shape, which consists of two parallel 16-foot-wide wings linked together in the middle like an H. On the left is a single-story great room that contains the kitchen, living and dining areas. On the right is a two-story wing that contains the master bedroom suite, laundry room and mudroom downstairs and two extra bedrooms, a bathroom and a media room upstairs. Between the two wings is the entry foyer, with that wall of glass in back. This arrangement means that nearly every room has three exterior walls — and therefore three views of the outside world.
Throughout the house, oversized windows foster a sense of connectedness to the outdoors. And a few walls are made up entirely of windows, eliminating almost any visual barrier between the home and its environment. In addition to the rear wall of the entry room, the two ends of the great room wing are all glass, and the end wall shared by the media room upstairs and master suite downstairs is nearly all glass too. This, of course, affords beautiful views of the yard, the golf course and the Martis Valley beyond. Large sliding glass doors throughout allow people — and fresh air, when weather permits — to move in and out from almost anywhere in the house. And with only about a six-week mosquito season each year, closing the screens is often unnecessary.
On the back patio, six flat-topped boulders — about 400 pounds each and dug up during the project excavation — create a semicircle of seating around an outdoor fireplace, which offers roaring flames without the smokiness of a standard firepit. (It all goes up the chimney.) There’s also an outdoor kitchen, complete with a gas grill, under-counter refrigerator, sink and slate countertop. A second, private patio off the master bedroom contains an in-ground hot tub that’s screened for total privacy by a few well-placed boulders and some evergreen plantings.
To connect indoor and outdoor spaces visually, Bourke gave the courtyard, entry hall and back patio a single, uninterrupted slate-tile floor. Other materials and finishes carry over between exterior and interior spaces too. The veneer fieldstone around the base of the outside walls and one of the chimneys, for example, was also used for an interior fireplace. And the hot-rolled steel used for the exterior fireplace and its chimney is also found on exposed structural components on the interior.
Bourke carefully arranged the layout of the house to sync with the sun’s path across the sky. Morning sunshine comes through the wall of windows in the living area of the great room and afternoon sun washes over the eating area. Also, by putting the single story wing to the south and the two-story wing to the north — and carefully arranging their heights, orientation, and spacing — Bourke ensured that every room, even the first floor on the north wing, gets direct sunshine daily. Even the front courtyard, sandwiched in between, gets plenty of sunshine, allowing for vibrant plantings that create yet another attention-grabbing outdoor space.
Another trick Bourke employed was to create transitional zones that aren’t fully outdoors or indoors. The front courtyard has three walls around it, for instance, and the pitched roofs extend six feet beyond the front wall of each wing, with a matching stone patio below to offer an intermediate area with shade and cover from the elements before you move completely outside. “It blurs the lines between what’s indoors and what’s outdoors,” says Bourke, “and helps draw you outside.”
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