St. Helena Residence

Location:

St. Helena, California

Given the opportunity to work with an existing house first built in the nineteen seventies, we sought to highlight the extant qualities—long expanses, strong massing, and an iconoclastic style—while seeking to dramatically improve the architectural coherence of the exterior and the experience of the interior. A one-story public area holds the kitchen, living, and dining rooms in a programmatic organization that maximizes the best exposures and views, while the most prized second story location—one with direct views to the south and west—becomes the primary bedroom, complete with private deck that renders the interior shower almost outdoors. Our design for a third story incorporates a home office and allows the clients to experience easy views of sweeping Napa Valley vistas. The house’s composition and program supports its identity as a second residence for a couple who live full-time in Redwood City, offering a dramatically different environment and landscape and multiple ways of encountering the outdoors: visually, through glass; tactilely, through direct encounter with the landscaping; and emotionally, through maintaining a profound connection with the existing structure and the area’s long history as a fertile place for culture, food, and wine. The layered bars of living space support carefully landscaped roof terraces, while the exterior elevations are a study in various textures, from glass to wooden slats to opaque wood siding.