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Not all modern cottages are in the woods. Some are smack dab in the middle of urban landscapes. This home designed by Butler Armsden Architects is in the middle of San Francisco and makes a huge impact with minimal details and quiet design.
David Swetz, formerly of Butler Armsden Architects (now with his own design studio called SwetzShop, explained that the owner had very simple goals for this major renovation project. First, make the adjacent park their “front yard,” and second, design a minimalist home that makes a bold statement. David and his team went to work designing a home that makes the most out of a very unique site, framing the awesome views and creating a simple, cleanly detailed environment that speaks quietly but packs a huge punch.
With views like these, why not take advantage of them? David organized the home in a way that makes the most out of a tough urban site. Surrounded by structures on three sides, the home fits snuggly into its context. The two lower living levels focus their views towards the adjacent park. Views from these floors bring the natural environment of the small city park directly into the home. The main living spaces seem to hover among the trees. The park becomes a vital part of the living experience – an urban home nestled among the trees – an unexpected departure from most urban homes.
A Design Focal Point
A sculptural staircase acts both as an organizing element and as a design focal point of the home. As guests approach the home the staircase is visible, giving a clue of how the home is organized and what they might expect once inside. The meticulously crafted spiral stair elegantly winds its way from the entry level graciously to the penthouse level, connecting the three main living floors of the home. The journey between floors is no longer just utilitarian, but rather an experience that helps reinforce the meticulously crafted, nature of the entire home.
As the home climbs higher, above adjacent buildings on three sides, the views expand to a full 270 degree panorama. The penthouse floor becomes an oasis, an escape from the city below. Both indoor and outdoor living spaces offer unbroken views across the city. Three sides of glass walls provide the required separation from the elements while allowing the interior and exterior to flow seamlessly between each other.
While speaking to David about this extraordinary home, he made it clear that the design of the interior spaces was done with the intent of eliminating distraction. The goal: make the views, not the home itself, the center of the living experience.
The detailing of the home is restrained – crisp and clean. All materials and details within the main living spaces are simple and neutral. Nothing screaming for attention. Elegant materials blend together in restrained design, helping to define spaces within the open floor plan in a subtle manner. Wood accents define the functional spaces of kitchen and eating while the living area in painted white, proving a simple background to the views beyond.
By eliminating visual distraction design can be used to focus our attention on things that bring us joy. In this home, the design of the interior spaces act as a point of contrast to the views. Quiet interior spaces allow the vibrant city beyond to be the star of this home.
Sometimes the boldest statements are said in a whisper. This home design, by David Swetz of Butler Armsden Architects, makes a huge impact with strong, yet subtle design decisions. By orienting public rooms towards the park and views beyond, the design creates a place for the homeowners to disengage from the busy streets outside. Simple material choices and minimalist detailing quiets the home, eliminating unnecessary distractions which allows us to focus on the things that bring us joy.
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