Treehouse in California
the modest, contemporary, and utilitarian furnishings
A modern residence perched on a hill overlooking San Francisco. It was a dream job for interior designer Noz Nozawa of Noz Design, who was recruited by a young family to simplify and reimagine the interiors of their Bay Area abode. Nozawa explains that her clientele was attracted to the modest, contemporary, and utilitarian furnishings her Japanese wife had grown up with.
The family intended to collaborate with SF Design Build on a relatively straightforward cosmetic remodel of the kitchen and several bathrooms. But as the project grew into a complete gut renovation of the over 4,000-square-foot property, they contacted Nozawa. The only structural change, according to Nozawa, was the addition of a Jack-and-Jill bathroom between the children’s rooms. “Yet, each and every part of this house was touched. We installed a new roof, external roller blinds, new skylights, and almost everything else was new.”
material-focused color palette
Nozawa drew inspiration from the family’s fondness for minimalist influences to establish a restrained, material-focused color palette that would create an aura of tranquility. She commissioned Brimer Workshops to design cabinets and built-ins throughout the house, using primarily locally produced, sustainably harvested materials such as silvered oak, gray elm, and red elm to conceal clutter behind luxurious wooden surfaces. For a touch of visual flair, she collaborated with Caroline Lizarraga Decorative Painting, who painted a mural for the powder room that was inspired by the city lights of San Francisco at night.
Nozawa notes that the room, which the family intended to use for entertaining, had to function as a “professional tool in some sense.” So, she envisioned a living space with a multitude of flexible seating options, including a Flexform sofa, a daybed, and Ligne Roset swivel chairs, so that visitors may turn toward their hosts, should they be cooking in the open kitchen, or take in the view from the window. Nozawa procured a see-through fireplace from Da Vinci for this room so as not to obstruct the view. She made every decision with the intention of emphasizing one of the home’s most distinctive features: the breathtaking view of the city.
300 wine glasses that they wished to have on hand for entertaining
If a request for flexible seating seems fairly standard, the following request was atypical: They needed storage space for a collection of around 300 wine glasses that they wished to have on hand for entertaining. “We were able to optimize for roughly 150 of them to fit in the kitchen,” adds Nozawa, who hid burgundy glasses, sniffers, and champagne flutes in kitchen drawers beneath the counters and in the dining area. It seemed quite bizarre for such a little location.
Several variations of this strategy were employed by Nozawa in an effort to remove visual clutter. Nozawa states, “At some time they just decided, ‘We don’t want to watch this’.” She commissioned wall-height cabinets constructed of reclaimed red wood to store the family’s guitar collection, for instance. In order to avoid hanging curtains throughout such a window-heavy room, she built a motorized outside shade system from Lutron, which can be controlled from the customers’ cellphones at night or when the sun is very intense.
modern Japanese aesthetic
Throughout the home, references to Japanese culture transcend beyond the minimalist design. A 300-year-old Hinoki wood slab from Japan serves as their dining table, while a door that covers the broom closet alludes subtly to the Japanese method of kintsugi. The customers have accumulated heirloom items throughout the years, such as Japanese Tansu boxes and a little image of a dragon, a symbol of good fortune, which hangs in the highest point of the home, which is also furnished with pieces from B&B Italia and Cassina. A customized outside refrigeration unit maintains the temperature of the Hinoki plunge tub in the master bathroom, which is kept at a constant 36 degrees Fahrenheit.
Nozawa, who is also part Japanese, notes, “I’m constantly conscious of the fact that you shouldn’t design a house that’s too culturally distinctive.” “However, I urged them to completely embrace this modern Japanese aesthetic. Especially considering the house’s Western architecture.”
But the key is balance. In the doorway, for example, they commissioned a sight-specific, ultramodern glass lighting piece by Jeff Zimmerman that resembles large milk drops to contrast the more conventional appearance of old Japanese panels. This entry, according to Nozawa, embodies the spirit of the project: “It’s a blend of who they are today and where they came from.”
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