Menlo Oaks Residence by Ana Williamson Architect

Menlo Oaks Residence by Ana Williamson Architect

Location: Menlo Park, California, USA
Year: 2009
Area: 4,000 sqft
Photo courtesy: Dasja Dolan

At first blush, the existing house on this site in Menlo Park, CA was not worth saving. It had been a rental for many years, was wildly overgrown and had fallen into disrepair. Fortunately, the new homeowners could see past its current state. They fell in love with the old world charm of the house, especially its fireplaces and coved ceilings. The location of the site gave them a feel of living in a remote area yet close to modern conveniences. After having gone through two previous “tear downs”, they also looked forward to the challenges that would come with working around existing constraints.

The design team’s goals were to maintain the integrity of the house, improve the flow, connect interior spaces to the outdoors and overlay a modern aesthetic. The owners were looking to create a modern environment where they could mesh the old and the new. They wanted clean lines and materials and still be able to throw in their antiques from India and Japan. As a tight nit family of five, with frequent visits from family in England the program required 4 bedrooms and a guest suite. Additions to the house totaling 1,130 SF provided enough space to satisfy their functional needs (3,990 SF total). The homeowners also opted to incorporate many green features and were awarded 98 points from Build-it-Green.

Completed in 2009, the house integrates the functional flow with natural features of the site. The design has a modern aesthetic with straightforward forms, clean lines and natural materials. Natural light has been added at every opportunity with large metal window openings and skylights. The existing oak near the front entry is celebrated with a new entry patio and courtyard. Organizing the living spaces around the rear courtyard and giving them the ability to open to the courtyard was a deliberate gesture to reinforce the connection to the outdoors as well as create a dialog between the wings of the house.

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