The steep hillside property is long and rectangular with a slightly splayed angle
opening to the southeast. To take advantage of the southern exposure and eastern
view, architect F. Douglas Adams designed the new house so that it mimics the
shape of the lot.
The two-story section of the
house [ ] is a narrow rectangle
that runs parallel to the northern
boundary of the site, while the
expansive ground-level living area
[ ] is laid out to reflect the splay.
The two-shape design optimizes
outdoor living, allows for
maximum southern light into
living areas, and plays perfectly to
spectacular views to the east.
The new shape of the house was essential to Adams’s redefinition of the relationship between the house and the land. The
old square house sat in the middle of the long, narrow 1-acre lot
and “blocked off the site.” His new design and siting enabled
indoor and outdoor spaces to flow seamlessly together, which also
meant addressing the overgrown, unloved hillside.
The steep terrain was transformed from an unusable lot into
a welcoming, unified outdoor space with help from the wife’s
mother, a former landscape architect. A vegetable garden sits
at the bottom of the hill, while a large outdoor patio lines the
south side, bridging the long lot. “This was a challenging site,
landscape-wise,” says the wife. “I knew my mom could handle it,
which is part of the reason I was willing to take it on.”
The restrained use of materials kept the understated qual-
ity that the owners wanted. The same granite used for the patio
forms the border around the living room floor. Fir,
used for the exterior siding, also frames the inte-
rior windows, and white maple flooring was used
throughout. A cherry stripe in the living area floor
highlights where the angles of the upper and lower story meet.