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Cedar cladding, acute angles and careful orientation all help this guest house blend with its greater environment


In terms of architectural design, a divergence from traditional 90° wall and ceiling angles can have a dramatic impact on the look and function of a structure – both inside and out. Introducing acute angles on wall corners, for example, can help diffuse the appearance of a solid mass. From the interior perspective, the same sharp angle, combined with a rising ceiling plane, directs the eye outwards and upwards to a specific feature, such as the view from a window.

This premise helped dictate the form of the guest house shown on these pages, designed by architect Stephen Kanner.

"The owners wanted a minimalist design, that would also be private, warm and sit well in its wooded context," says Kanner. "Our response was to compose a series of angled cedar wall planes – the acute angles make the structure less visible at a glance, while the timber cladding merge with the surrounding stand of large Californian pines."

As well as presenting unobtrusive profiles, the distinctive shape of the building also maximises space on a tight site and allows for the presence of separate entrances. The northern front entrance is on the house side, providing direct access for the owners. The southern entry is used by visitors to the guesthouse.

From an interior perspective, accentuating the structure's natural light and views was important.


Each plane angle of the structure responds to a function of the interior – this includes creating view corridors, enhancing light quality through the guest house and allowing for flexibility of use.

"The interiors are kept simple and take a back seat to the views framed by the large timber-trimmed windows," says Kanner. "The angled wall and roof planes further emphasise this focus, leading the occupant's eye towards the light and out to the lush scenery."

Walls are simple, white-painted drywall and lighting is suspended below the timber purlins on stainless steel cables.

Continuing the exterior's natural material palette, the interior floors are maple, with the ceilings, doors, windows and cabinetry finished in vertical grain Douglas fir.

"Everything about the design, from its environmentally in-tune exterior to its serene white walled, blonde timber interior is intended to create a feeling of sanctuary," the architect says. "Even from within, the space feels at one with its natural surroundings."

Credit List

Architect Stephen Kanner, FAIA, Kanner Architects (Santa Monica, California)
Interior/kitchen designer Birgit Hansen, Kanner Architects
Builder Steve Wolverton Construction
Structural engineer Masoud Dejban
Windows Custom and generic
Doors Westside Doors & Windows
Cladding Cedar
Flooring 76mm maple wood
Wallcoverings Painted drywall
Paints Frazee in Architectural White
Lighting Custom and generic from Tech Lighting
Furnishings, cabinetry, benchtop, vanity cabinetry Built-in with vertical grain Douglas fir by Steve Wolverton Construction

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