The Owner has land that was once used for livestock grazing many years ago. The family wanted a small house only a few minutes’ walk down a dirt & gravel road from the main house, located in its own private open space, and separated from the main house by a grove of trees. The tiny structure would also be for guests or a quiet place for some work. The small house is placed beside a 75-year-old cast-in-place concrete livestock watering trough which deer now visit for water during the warm months and can quietly observed from the comforts of the guest house.
The house has galvanized corrugated metal siding and roofing found on many old rural farm structures in Marin County. Some of these structures are tall and windowless because of their use as silos or storage of large vehicles and farm equipment. In that direction, the house is also two-story structure silo-like to minimize its footprint on the land and to look like it belongs.
Instead of being a simple box with a pitched roof, the exterior roofing steps upward reminiscent of Norwegian Stave churches which both the Architect and Owner both admire. The stepped roofs shelter distinct layers of space underneath: the outermost layer resides under the lowest roof and contains the kitchenette, the bathroom, storage, and cozy sitting areas. The middle layer sits under the next highest roof and contains all circulation with high ceilings and walls for artwork. These two layers are rendered in white & light colors and the finishes are more refined and slickly finished-white marble countertops; white modern cabinetry and subtle touches of color. Reused white-painted fence railing in a diagonal pattern is placed on the walls to provide interest and strength. Skylights wash daylight down on these walls and shelves below.
The highest gabled roof shelters the final layer which is better described as the rugged core—a two-story structure with the loft above and the living room directly below: both defined with 4 pairs of reused rough lumber at the corners and designed with shelving. The two-story core is rendered in rough re-used lumber that is “bleached” with a rugged personality and, with robust colors, in contrast to the refined white layers below. Re-used 4-inch unstained boards are used on the loft walls. A 70-gallon stainless steel water tank sits on top of the loft closet under the highest point in the house for water storage and water pressure to the plumbing below. Water is provided by a well nearby.
Space and storage are minimal so all uses must be planned with dual uses. The built-in couches in the living room are also twin beds with the bedding stored in large drawers underneath. All dining occurs at the bar and also a desk area. The columns themselves are designed with shelving for just about anything that the Owners find interesting.
The loft is designed to be an office or art studio and is currently used as a bedroom for adventuresome guests. The bed is a captain’s bed-a type of bed that is raised for storage underneath. Colorful plastic milk crates provide storage for bedding and clothing in niches at the foot of the bed. Books are placed towards the head of the bed. The stacked shelves of the columns provide tiny places for tiny things normally used in bedrooms. Beautiful warm wool blankets for chilly nights are hung on the walls for easy access and a great way to appreciate the beauty of these blankets instead of hiding them away.
A small deck connects the house to the old watering trough. A large yellow 12’-0” high glass & wood pocket door can be opened to the deck on warm evenings. The corner casement window can be opened completely to create an open cantilevered corner with unobstructed views of the water basin, across the meadow, and for more intimate connection to the land while still inside the house’s protective confines.