Small, flexible home with a large presence

With a generous program and a limited allowable footprint, the property owners challenged Studio Vara to create a small, flexible home with a large presence.

Photography by: Matthew Millman Photography

Designed by Studio Vara

From the architect:

A young couple approached Studio VARA to design a new ground-up residence for their busy family of five on a prominent yet petite corner lot in Old Palo Alto. 

With a generous program and a limited allowable footprint, they challenged the designers to create a small, flexible home with a large presence.


In the front yard of this home by apartment, architecture, building, courtyard, design, estate, facade, home, house, interior design, landscape, property, real estate, residential area, roof, room, tree, window, yard, white, brown
In the front yard of this home by Studio Vara, multiple layers of low fencing, hardscape, and planting of various heights, textures, and colours are deployed to buffer the front façade from the sidewalk.

"To solve this puzzle, we conceived of the house as a Rubik’s Cube of tightly interlocking spaces that expand outward into a landscape of intimate yet generous outdoor rooms."

To break up the massing and achieve lightness within a compact, rectilinear envelope, they used distinct materials to articulate three stacked volumes that shift and recede from sight as they move up: concrete for the basement, wood at the main level, and dark zinc for the top floor. 

The main level is lifted slightly above grade, allowing deep light wells to penetrate underground and provide light and air to a full basement. 

Carefully considered window placement adds ornament and rhythm to the façade.

Texture, colour, and furnishings are meticulously layered piece architecture, building, ceiling, chair, couch, daylighting, door, floor, furniture, hardwood, home, house, interior design, living room, property, real estate, room, shade, window, window blind, window covering, window treatment, wood, brown
Texture, colour, and furnishings are meticulously layered piece by piece to ensure they fit seamlessly in this home by Studio Vara.

Inside, sumptuous materials and sophisticated detailing make the home feel large and luxurious. 

Uninterrupted floor-to-ceiling glass walls allow the outdoors and daylight to penetrate the house and maximise sightlines to achieve a feeling of spaciousness. 

Elegant, carefully considered cabinetry and built-ins in the kitchen and entertaining areas on the main level ensure that the open plan does not feel loft-like.

This three-storey stair separates the entertaining spaces from architecture, building, ceiling, floor, flooring, handrail, home, house, interior design, lobby, property, real estate, room, stairs, brown, white
This three-storey stair separates the entertaining spaces from a guest suite, powder room, and piano room on the ground floor, and channels movement and light as it cascades along a central stone wall.

 A sculptural steel stair set against a continuous stone-slab wall anchors the entire house and unifies the three levels. 

Upstairs, the master suite and bedrooms are strategically organised to ensure privacy and views outside.

Studio VARA provided a full range of services to weave the architecture, interiors, furnishings, and landscape into a seamless, integrated whole.

Aug 14, 2019

Credit list

Architect and interior designer
Studio Vara
Contractor
Von Clemm Construction
Lighting designer
Tucci Lighting
Location
Palo Alto, CA
Structural engineer
FTF Engineering
Audio/Visual
Adaptive System
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