AIA Marin Tour – Hillside House

Yesterday I saw two blissful houses on this tour, Hillside and the Sausalito house, either of which I would gracefully accept.–The-Hillside-House

It is so easy to go into a house and get lost in the detail, especially with a swarm of excited people, and the Hillside House by Scott and Tracy Lee has so much original detail. Granite sets in the driveway, stacked stone for the retaining wall, wooden screens, and through the door, the first glimpse of spectacular ropes and lanterns hanging the depth of the stairwell. The lot is steep, the house is multi-floor by necessity and each floor is surprisingly small, about 500 square feet, but each room plumps out its function and becomes pleasing, inviting. In the children’s room on the entry floor it is easy to imagine sitting with them to read a story, or playing on their pleasant deck, or giving them a bath in their mercifully simple, comfortable bathroom. The baby has a nursery which is the essence of calm, and baby-scaled.

Up the simple, solid stairs, with barn wood to one side and small low windows showing lush green growth outside (and wire and straw lined gullies, drainage is a big issue in these hills). A large covered porch and a small patio of ‘grass’ look over wonderful views down to the Bay. The hanging light here – from a reclaimed hawser?- is a buoy, cut in half, the other half thriftily employed in the enclosed outdoor barbecue area on the top floor. By this time I an intrigued by the house, I trust it to be rational, quirky and original, and the master bedroom is all that. It has a wonderful feeling of space despite its size, because it flows seamlessly to its private deck, which has not only an outdoor bath, but at its other end a generous built in banquette with unobtrusive heating in the ceiling! Comfort! The sensibility of the design is full of personal, thoughtful practical details like this. And yes, there are closets, but they are not monsters on show-offy steroids. They are closets.

The kitchen, dining and living areas are on the top floor and take in the views, but not dominated by them – there is a fireplace, comfortable sofa (don’t know about the Turkish crate chairs, but they are beautiful), a discreet, classy kitchen with everything you would expect, but once again, it was the personal thought put into the space which charmed me. If you stand at the sink you are in front of a window set flush to the counter and low, so your vision is arrested by a glowing green upslope like a secret closeup of wilderness. Romantic, yes – and practical too, because a standard window would reveal the neighbour above.

I haven’t a clue who supplied the appliances or who designed the furniture, although I did spy distinctive Coyuchi towels. The Lee’s home has an elemental quality, as if they bypassed brand names and went straight for the essence -wood steel fire water air. There is a craftsmanlike quality to just about everything they have allowed into their home. Thoughtful, loving attention.

About Tricia Rose

Not distracted by shiny objects.
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