After purchasing a traditional English style home in Atherton, a young entrepreneurial couple with two children approached the Feldman design team with a vision: a dramatic transformation of the existing house and gardens into a contemporary compound that embraces natural light while seamlessly connecting the interior to the outdoor landscaping.
The original structure, with its formal arrangement of rooms, turned its back on the expansive landscape and beautiful, natural environment unique to Northern California with a magnificent Heritage Oak in the front yard, and a formal rose garden all but hidden from the inside.
The new design completely reimagines the original structure by opening rooms to each other and the adjoining landscape. Interior proportions were refined, and design details simplified, all while responding to the expansive light and air of newly created and enlarged doorways and windows.
With an eye towards refined elegance, exterior ornamentation and detailing were scaled back while resolving awkward exterior and interior geometries. The interior colour palette is fresh, reinforced by crisp off-white, natural finishes, and layers of subtle textures that interplay and engage with reflected light.
A new, light-filled entry and expanded stair is the heart of the 8,183-square-foot house and one of the primary sources of daylight. The graceful curves of the staircase create a sensation of floating and eliminates the need for landings between levels. The three-story shape of the stair hall is mirrored by an elliptical skylight supporting a multi-tiered, custom chandelier and mimicking the cascading movement of the daylight above.
The refreshingly simplified front façade and added access to the basement level increase the entry’s inviting scale and architectural drama. New and strategically placed lightwells animate the existing basement with natural light while creating a new den, two guest bedrooms, a maker room, and fitness room.
On the ground floor, new full-height glass doors in the living room fold open to a new southern garden and outdoor living area, symbolizing true California living while increasing usable space and functionality. Newly vaulted ceilings reinforce vertical scale and provide a soft textural glow from light wood paneling. The kitchen benefits from the same folding door system and becomes a genuine outdoor room shaded by a custom trellis. Upstairs, each corner houses a bedroom – maximizing views, light, and privacy as well as reinforcing a sense of graceful symmetry. This sensibility continues into a primary suite and separate, dual home offices located at the top of the stair.
Collaborating with the landscape architect, the design team worked to visually and spatially connect the pool and gardens to the main house, thoughtfully integrating intimate outdoor living spaces into the grounds. Each interior space opens towards an exterior marker or romantic moment, creating a site-sensitive renovation that celebrates its surroundings.
location: Atherton, California, USA | architecture: Feldman Architecture (team: Chris Kurrle, LEED GA, Project Principal; Anjali Iyer, LEED AP, Project Architect; Humbeen Geo, Designer | interior designer: BAMO | landscape architecture: Ground Studio | builder: Plath & CO General Contractors | civil engineers: BKF Engineers | lighting: Anna Kondolf Lighting Design | structural engineers: Holmes Structures | ownership team: Kemnitzer CM, LLC | photography: Matthew Millman