It’s not often you hear a house referred to as a “found object,” but that’s how architect Timothy C. Chappelle describes a California residence he designed in Woodside, a small Bay Area town with a big sense of history. It’s a wooded area where equestrian paths line the narrow, sidewalk-free streets and remnant sawmill buildings tell an old, but not-forgotten tale. Although it’s home to some of Silicon Valley’s elite, it’s the kind of place determined to retain its charm and eschew big money’s largesse.
This bucolic setting inspired the abode, and Chappelle came to the project with a unique perspective: He’s a Woodside resident. “There’s a part of town with older, historic buildings from the 1800s,” says the architect, who worked in concert with project manager Austin Riley. “We had those in mind. We didn’t want this to feel like a new dwelling. Instead, we envisioned it as a spread out, aged agrarian compound. We think of places like this as ‘quiet architecture’—buildings that are at peace with their settings.”
That sense of calm is present as you approach the residence, which sits on a corner lot surrounded by stately oak and evergreen trees. Lush grasses give the front yard an informal character, while mature plantings lend to the home’s sense of longevity. “It feels as though you are walking through a meadow to get to the entry,” says landscape architect John Merten.
The dwelling itself comprises a trio of gabled buildings topped by a rustic metal roof and connected by glass-enclosed breezeways. Two are clad in stone (the larger edifice holds the living areas, and a smaller one contains the primary bedroom suite), and the third is a wood-clad structure housing the garage. In keeping with the small-town sensibility, you’ll find a front porch with a swing where the homeowners often relax.
Inside, designer Jennifer Robin and project manager Dani Souza married the husband and wife’s distinct styles while honoring the architecture’s timeless nature. “He was attracted to clean, modern lines and more masculine design elements, while she gravitated toward traditional, feminine forms,” says Robin. “We carefully wove these together for a transitional vibe that reflects their tastes in a harmonious way.” Throughout the house, the designers performed a delicate balancing act, blending blond woods for texture and warmth with hints of antique brass, black accents and sophisticated millwork. For instance, light-hued perimeter cabinetry in the kitchen is juxtaposed against a dark island and a large black range hood, while the patterned tile backsplash whispers traditional and fresh in one breath. In the open- concept living and dining room, a white sofa sits opposite a dark media wall with a striking gray onyx fireplace surround. The dining chairs and benches are a modern shape, but Robin added nailhead detailing for a classic touch.
In select spots, exterior finishes drift indoors for a seamless look. “We want a connection between the inside and out,” Chappelle says. “One way to do it is with large windows and doors, but it is also important to bring the exterior materials inside.” The strategy is evident in the breezeways, where residents witness the exterior and interior materials blending through the glass walls as they travel from space to space.
The main bathroom is an exquisite example of blurring lines—the soaking tub sits in a niche that appears to jut through the exterior wall, with stonework hugging the space. Robin was careful to offset the heaviness of the material with lighter elements. “I selected a delicate marble mosaic for the floor along with feminine glass knobs and linen insets for the vanity to create a yin-yang balance,” she says. In the sleek main bedroom, equilibrium is found between large and intimate elements. The voluminous, light-hued room is grounded by a custom bed and floating nightstands. Opposite the bed is a wall composed of floor-to-ceiling sliding doors that provide direct access to the backyard.
At the end of the day, the homeowners often find themselves following a narrow path that leads to a seating area under a large oak where they can relax and enjoy the view of their new, harmonious abode. “I have a respect for great materials and craftsmanship, and people collaborating and working well together to create something spectacular,” the husband says. “I think we achieved that here.”