Portola Valley Residence

Designed around a heritage oak tree, this home pulls elements from its woodland surroundings, allowing it to seamlessly blend into the existing landscape. The exterior materials, charred-cedar and stucco at the main house and Corten at the guesthouse, were chosen for their earthy tones and necessary fire resistance.

Significant design moves were made to the interior of the existing spaces, including the addition of large floor-to-ceiling windows and a wrap-around balcony off of the dining room to take full advantage of the landscape and natural light. While the upper level of the house was already sited nicely for the views, the floor was dropped at the lower level to take advantage of the natural sloping site; this allowed for the creation of a spacious media room and guest suite on the lower level that connects directly to the outdoor swimming pool.

Steel trusses replaced structural posts in the main living space, allowing the house to open up both internally and to the expansive outlooks beyond. Wrapped with a new balcony, the dining room is fitted with custom sliding glass panels, wood and steel shutters, and retractable screens on three sides. This one space now allows for multiple dining experiences—the homeowner’s can dine inside a glass box, a shuttered pavilion or a screened-in porch.

The central kitchen was enlarged through the removal of existing posts that were then replaced with tension rods and trusses, creating a spacious area perfect for hosting family and friends. Salvaged timber was used as shelving in the pantry and kitchen as well as in the family library, playing on the forestry theme of the home.

A new structure was constructed on the west side of the original property that houses an artist’s studio above a lanai and an additional guest suite. The studio, accessed by a bridge, provides an inspiring retreat with a view over the treetops and the valley below. With a Corten exterior, this annex glows like a jewel box at night.