Inspired by English country houses, this renovated home in Atherton California opens up to celebrate indoor-outdoor living.
San Francisco interior architecture and design studio BAMO teamed up with San Francisco architects Feldman Architecture to redesign an old English country house-style residence in the town of Atherton in San Mateo, California, transforming it into a bright and modern home that embraces its gorgeous locale.
Designed for a couple who run their own tech company, and who have two young children, the three-level, 929 square-foot house sits on a flat 47,916 square-foot site at the end of a small cul-de-sac in one of California’s most exclusive communities.
Surrounding the house are three gardens – a west garden off the living room, a south garden which defines the front entry and driveway, and a north garden with an outdoor dining area anchored by a sculptural concrete table set within an olive tree grove.
Michael Booth, BAMO’s co-founder, who oversaw the project’s interior design, says: “The property enjoys a private, park-like setting. A temperate climate – what I refer to as the best weather in the world – almost allows a year-round, indoor-outdoor, California lifestyle.”
The couple wanted a casual and comfortable family home with direct connections to the landscape and daylight, seamless circulation between spaces, natural ventilation, and a strong sense of serenity and calm.
Keeping these requirements in mind, Booth and his team scaled back the exterior ornamentation and detailing of the original country-style house while resolving awkward exterior and interior geometries. The only elements that were retained were the original footprint and the overall roof line.
“The original structure, with its formal arrangement of interior spaces, turned its back on the expansive landscape and beautiful natural environment unique to Northern California. Because of this, the front yard, a giant heritage oak tree outdoors, and a formal rose garden were hidden from the interior experience,” says Booth, who redesigned the new space with rooms opened to each other, and the adjoining landscape.
The interior proportions were refined and simplified, all the while responding to the light and air of the newly created and enlarged windows and doorways. A refreshingly modern front façade, and newly added vertical access to the basement level, increased the entrance’s inviting scale and architectural refinement.
Forming the heart of the house is a new, light-filled entrance and expanded staircase that draws in an abundance of natural light. The graceful curves of this staircase creates a sensation of floating, and eliminates the need for landings between levels.
“The three-storey shape of the stair hall is mirrored by an elliptical skylight supporting a multi-tiered custom chandelier that mimics the cascading movement of the daylight above,” Booth says.
On the ground floor, a split-level living room with full-height glass doors look out to the landscape to the north and south, and opens up to an expansive terrace and west-facing garden with a magnificent heritage oak tree. The lower level of the living room has a vaulted ceiling panelled in a light ash wood, and stone slab floors, that extend to the terrace to create a “garden room”.
The kitchen runs parallel to the garden on the northern side of the property and looks out to a swimming pool and tennis court beyond the garden.
In the dining room, de Gournay’s “La Chasse de Compiegne” scenic wallcovering draws the outdoors in, and brings a playful English country manor formality to the indoor dining space.
“The dining room is purposefully open so it can be seen from the living room and kitchen,” Booth says.
Connected to the kitchen and the driveway entrance are the family room and study. Orientated towards the south garden, a piano serves as the centrepiece of the family room, while a large work desk is the focal point in the study. A contemporary wood screen visually separates the family and study zones from the kitchen.
Three en suite bedrooms and two home offices are located on the second floor, along with a small study area between the two children’s rooms. All the rooms were fitted with floor-to-ceiling windows and Juliette balconies to make the best of the outdoor views.
In the basement is a home gym, and a media and game room that connects to an arts and crafts room. Both the game room an arts and crafts room enjoy daylight through new, expanded light wells cleverly concealed within the landscape.
“Collaborating with the project’s landscape architect, BAMO’s 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,” Booth says.
“Each interior space opens towards an exterior marker or romantic moment, creating a site-sensitive renovation that celebrates its surroundings. The interior colour palette is fresh and contemporary, reinforced by crisp off-white and natural finishes that reflect natural light and envelope the many layers of subtle textures.”