One aesthetic idea driving the creation of Laurel Way was that each room or space should be a jewel box, an individually conceived, precisely functional and dramatic sensory experience with its own depth of architecture. Central to the composition are many of Marc Whipple’s signature elements, one being the use of texture; smooth next to the rough stone, rich wooden panels against a glass, and glass reflecting water. The immediate experience upon entering the house is its inherent weightlessness – the sense that the walls appear to float as panels and you are always connected to the outdoors. This is achieved with adherence to a precise symmetry of beams, support panels, tiles, and sightlines, and also that walls do not meet the ceilings – a half-inch gap is left that helps achieve the effect.
These elements play up the horizontals and verticals of the house while movement and curves come from the three tiers of greenery and two water channels that surround the house giving it the look of an island floating against the blue California sky. The moat-like water surround is more than a successful artistic inspiration; it adds the feeling of a protective boundary without obstructing the views in any way. It also provided an innovative water feature visible from the interior while adding a highly dramatic dynamic to the entire design.
The front entry steps lead to a 14 ft. wood pivot door flanked entirely by glass, and then into the main floor foyer. To the left, a section of glass flooring reveals a wine room below with storage for 1000 bottles and cantilevered wenge wood stairs float upward to the bedrooms.
The living and dining areas are a study in chocolate and creamy whites carried through to the exterior surfaces achieved with Texston’s Lime based plaster, offset by rough split-faced stone and dark wenge wood. Lift and Slide German made Schuco windows and doors are state of the art offering dependable operation and drainage as well as thermal efficiency summer and winter. Glossy kitchen cabinets were custom designed and imported from Italy. “Zero Edge” and “ floating” themes are echoed in the smallest details; kitchen cooktop venting is flush to the ceiling. With no use of molding, all lines are visible, every element must be perfectly square and aligned. Minotii, Maxalto and B&B Italia furniture was selected or custom made for each living space.
The main powder room’s motorized sliding glass door opens up to a vanity and white glass rectangular column – the sink. A wall of small, mirrored black tiles, reflect a single chrome vertical water pipe suspended over custom made sink.
The Master/Mistress Suite, secluded on the top floor, opens to an expansive terrace with a Jacuzzi tub, areas for sunning and relaxing and enjoying the night-lights of the city by the soft light of an18 foot fire feature. Inside, glass walls provide sunshine and views by day, along with a sleek yet warm low-rise Minotti Moore bed for nighttime. Evening activities continue aided by a 60” glass fireplace, 65” television against coplanar lacquer doors which open to a wet bar. For the morning routine, the Master Bath provides a freestanding tub along with Antonio Lupi sinks and vanities, closets of Italian cabinetry with separate shoe storage.
This project emphasizes indoor/outdoor living throughout. The “moat” flows along to the entertainment area and ends at a zero edge Infinity Pool and Jacuzzi. PebbleFina, a finish laced with mica gives the pool its extra shimmer. Rimless construction of the pool and spa pulls the gaze to the horizon…a perfect mirror imbedded in the landscape. Fire and water, Whipple Russell Architects staples, are here in abundance, with flame features throughout, near the pool, above on the master terrace, on the kitchen terrace and within the entry water feature.
Other specialty features include a roomy home theater with a fully equipped wet bar, hidden fabric covered sound panels, plush couches, and leather chairs. Push of a button lights down, curtains open, it’s show time. Behind the screen is a window onto a Zen garden enclosure.
A home automation system is fully integrated into the entire property; heating and air, water and fire features, outdoor landscape lighting, and electronic window shades are activated with the touch of supplied iPads and iPods from anywhere in the house – or from your iPhone from anywhere in the world. It is the most up to date automation system using Basalte switches that take Creston systems to a whole new level.
With the use of glass walls, the 5-car garage takes on the look of a classic auto showroom. Above it, accessible either by a walkway off the main house or privately though a glass enclosed spiral staircase, the spacious 2 bedroom guest house includes surrounding sound, television, writing studio, gym, and bar. Guests can enjoy their private deck and fire-pit, a view of the putting green, and of course the Pacific Ocean.
Architects: Whipple Russell Architects
Location: California, United States