Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Architecture Wednesday: The Smith-Clementi Residence

The Smith-Clementi Residence in Venice, California was built 93 years ago, and yet, as the result of two new additions, and a couple of remodels,it doesn't look a day over a year old. The original home, at 600 square feet, is now a spacious, open 2200 square foot modern, with traditional elements, home.

On the first floor, the remodel and additions created a new living area, kitchen/breakfast room, powder room, outdoor dining, garage, while on the new second floor, there is now the master suite, family room, office, two children’s bedrooms, children’s bath, and utility room.

The house slowly reveals itself along a walk-only street, with the design juxtapositions of the fencing: a vine-covered traditional wrought-iron fence leads into an raw- wood rustic picket fence. The front volume maintains a refined lap siding, a hint of the house’s bungalow origins.

The idea of “Cape Cod meets California Modern” home is seen in the varying rooflines that open the structure to natural light and create terraces for outdoor living. The resulting home now revolves around indoor/outdoor connections to the vast patio space with decorative and working gardens. The expressive back volume sports exaggerated vertical wood framing as sunshades to the glass master bedroom volume; but the beams connote a tree house and correspond to the picket fence in both material and attitude.  

Public areas on the ground floor flow into each other and toward the outdoors. A new large sliding-glass door opens the lower level out to the generous plaza of concrete slabs, grass and pea stone. A no-mow grass surrounds the front elevated entry porch, at which the consistent black concrete-tile flooring that travels from outside through the first-floor living, dining, and kitchen areas, then back outside to the al fresco dining platform begins.

Both front and back parts of the house are distinct on the ground floor—connected by the open-air dining terrace—while the upper-level bedrooms and family space are connected by a cement-board cladded “bridge”.

Immediately upon entering the home, one feels the senses of light and play. Window walls face the outdoor areas and clerestory windows express the changing levels. Standing in the living room, one can see clear through to the breakfast area, the outdoor dining space, and the garage. The living room features built-in and free-standing custom benches while the existing fireplace was re-clad in origami-like dark metal.

The open kitchen features a banquette and breakfast table, simple white cabinetry, and plywood- covered exhaust hood above the working antique stove. The custom butcher-block island unfolds to a playful Buffalo profile while the floor-to-ceiling plywood book and entertainment center leads to the heavy timber wood staircase.

Upstairs, two bedrooms and a shared bath for the owners’ children are separated from the master suite by the “bridge”. Central to the bridge is the open family room—a hub of activity combining TV viewing, computer, and various other functions that mirror the family’s lifestyle. 

The flooring changes from wood to cork tiles as it opens into the master suite, which includes seating area, terrace, bath, and walk-in closets. A seven-foot-high plywood wall acts as headboard and privacy shield to the alley. Sliding and pocket doors on two sides can be opened and closed as desired to manage degrees of openness. 

The hanging fireplace swivels to direct heat either toward the room or toward the balcony, while a plywood storage wall is inset with red doorways leading into closets and the master bath. Open shelves allow a clear view into the bath, which may alternately by closed off by sliding the door all the way across. White cabinetry and positive/negative tiles highlight the master bath.

The house grew for the last time--I think--in 2012, when the current owners purchased the lot next door to expand their outdoor space. Obtaining the neighboring lot gave the owners the freedom to open the home up to the outside and to orient the views toward the existing 80-year-old Magnolia Grande Flora tree. Also on the adjoining property sits an olive-colored house for homeowner's mother, who collaborated on the landscape.

It's quirky, and new, yet somehow seems timeless; it's a little Frank Lloyd Wright, too, in the built-ins, and the Prairie-style overhangs.

All in all, I'd say it suits me just fine.



Anonymous said...

I like this one!

viktor kerney said...