Sacramento, a city with distinctive architectural stories to tell.
You may have heard of Eichler homes or maybe even Streng homes; built in the 50s and 60s, these single story houses feature glass walls and open floor plans, plenty of wood, as well as the posts and beams that typify the genre of California modernist architecture.
So popular in fact, even new builds will often be crafted in this style, such is the case with this Sacramento New Residence. Set on a plot of semi-rural land with an open field in the sunny neighborhood of Orangevale, the house is built with simple details and an openness to the outdoors.
The owners are a husband and wife, who live here with their grown children. It’s a space for relaxing, for hosting, and where they like to spend time with family outside of their busy work days.
One of the plot’s perks is being surrounded by nature, as there is a seasonal stream, a large field and a number of mature oak trees. It was imperative for the new house style to fit in harmoniously with this.
When the project began, initially the couple hoped to preserve the original building. But during the start of construction, the builders from Van Gelder Construction found that the foundation was too damaged to keep. It therefore meant that a whole new design was to be created, so Klopf Architecture worked to design something with California modernist aesthetics.
As you can maybe guess from the arid looking grass and topology of the garden, the climate and heat was a challenge to building the home. The team had to be aware of all the angles that the sun hits the property, to carefully design the house for minimizing heat transfer and yet maintain that desired design of sweeping openness.
This challenge to make the house comfortable enough to be used all year round became one of the most interesting parts of the project.
Given that the main view for the house faces some of the harshest solar exposure, we had to be creative in coming up with ways to control the UV intrusion and heat gain that would be possible in the house. The house is insulated well beyond the state requirements at the time (there is a continuous layer of insulation around the perimeter of the house outside of the framing), deeper overhangs and different shading devices were used for each of the habitable outdoor spaces. Where there are larger expanses of glass facing higher exposures, a higher performance glass was used, a reflective standing seam metal roof was used, and the interior materials were selected to allow the interior space to remain temperate and feel comfortable.
The main living area is the highlight of the project, with spaces opening up outdoors to the east and west. The outdoor areas become an extension of the main living area, and depending on where the sun is, you have different places that can be used. By using either side of the building, even in the harsh summer there is space outside in the shade to relax and entertain.
The home owners immediately felt comfortable in their new digs, able to decorate their space in the way they wanted and felt right at home. Bar stools create height at the kitchen island, while the living room area is sectioned off by the perimeters of the blue rug. Mid-century modern style furniture, like the Eames chair is fitting in this tall home.
The wife is a chef who owns a restaurant downtown, so you can imagine that it was important for the kitchen to be well integrated with the main living area of the house. An open plan kitchen style makes it easy for food preparation to tie closely to entertaining and daily life.
Mid-century modern furniture tends to be crafted from high quality wood, so when designing your own home in that style you will find yourself getting to know your timber. For the outside facade, however, the sun was too harsh for wood in this instance.
While natural wood siding looks great, it wouldn’t last long under the harsh sun conditions in Orangevale. In response, the Klopf team specified high recycled content composite siding (Tru-Grain) that maintains its look without maintenance much longer than wood possibly could, along with some smooth white stucco to visually separate the main living area. On the interior, the main living space has an exposed concrete floor with composite counters, and white oak cabinets.
You’ve seen how the main living area is active, but the bedroom wing by comparison is more for rest. The materials have been varied, while maintaining similarities so that the house feels connected. Instead of concrete flooring like in other parts, the bedroom wing features white oak.
There are three bedrooms in total, with two bathrooms and a powder room.
Whether from inside the atrium-like windows, or from outside on the veranda, there are countless ways to enjoy the peaceful tranquility of this home. Built to match the time-honored classic styles of mid-century modern architecture, the home’s design lends it enduring popularity thanks to its timeless qualities and robust materials.
Project: Sacramento New Residence
Design: Klopf Architecture
Photos: Mariko Reed
Are you interested in seeing other California homes? Check out this San Mateo Highlands home, which also fits well alongside the Eichler vernacular of open living spaces that stretch outdoors. Alternatively, read our interview with designer Tracy Gilmore in Santa Monica whose charming touches make a house feel familiar and friendly.
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