An extended living experience in Japan combined with a love of wood and an appreciation for fine details, were the spring boards for design we discovered after extensive interviews with our clients. We married elements of traditional Japanese homes, and California craftsman style to create a simple refined home nestled in among pine trees at the 3,000 foot level of the Sierras in Amador County.
The home is C-shaped in plan with the garage creating the “back wall” of the protected outdoor courtyard garden. The two wings of the house are divided into public and private domains separated by an engawa or hallway flanking one side of the garage wall with views out into the garden. The walkway is generous to allow the homeowners’ extensive collection of Japanese artwork to be properly displayed and enjoyed. The gathering wing consists of the entry to the home, and a great room area with kitchen living and dining spaces all combined under a soaring ceiling of tongue and groove Port Orford cedar. A traditional tokonoma, or display area, sets the tone as visitors enter this area of the home from the front door with a hand-hewn tree trunk and salvaged redwood plank creating the simple understated display area. Another massive curved tree trunk acting as a beam helps to define the space between the kitchen and living area. The end wall of the living space is highlighted by a fireplace surrounded by custom-made cherry cabinetry and deep ledge for displaying additional pieces of the homeowners’ art collection.The private wing of the space, accessed by passing through the engawa, houses the guest bedroom which doubles as the home office, and the master suite with its sunken Japanese soaking tub tucked under a lower shed roof with views to the courtyard garden. Custom made tansu chests serve as the master bath’s vanity and linen storage area. Overhead, in both the entry to the master bedroom and in two locations in the kitchen and dining area, beams were custom-designed to incorporate traditional Japanese ranma wood carving pieces used to help define spatial transitions.
Overall, the home is just 1,800 SF in size. The structure is simple in its shape with steeply pitched roofs alluding to older traditional Japanese homes and the concept of folded planes. A natural material palette of stained concrete floors, muted colors, and a variety of woods used for cabinetry, trim, ceilings and details help to keep the feeling of this home refined. While the exterior is simple in its expression providing a few hints to the craftsmanship within, it is not until one enters the home that the richness of detailing is fully revealed. In keeping with the Japanese aesthetic, the home is a peaceful retreat for the inhabitants.
Contractor: Jim Glauz Construction
Photography: Dave Adams Photography