Home Tour: Sleek and unique
October 8, 2012
Nestled into the terrain with its low lines, Ken and Carolyn Woods' contemporary residence is in harmony with its site through the use of natural materials that flow from the outside to the inside.
By award-winning architect Arthur Dyson, this home is actually the second home that the architect has designed for the Woods, who relocated to Nevada County four years ago. Dyson, who was honored by the Society of American Registered Architects with a gold medal in 1993, began practicing architecture in 1959 when he worked with the architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Sheathed in copper with horizontal redwood slats, the exterior of the home makes use of natural materials that will never need painting. The entry walkway leads to a magnificent glass and metal offset-hinged door that is 5 1/2 feet wide by 8 feet in height with an artistic chrome-plated handle fabricated by a local welder.
The door swings open to reveal the same copper sheathing continuing on the inside wall of the foyer. A lighted niche features "Sprite," a statue designed by Wright.
Beyond the entry, the great room expands into a dramatic wall of glass, revealing views of a distant ridge near Colfax. The dark gray fireplace surround, with its horizontal stainless steel bands, features a Rumsford fireplace, designed by the architect and made to specific proportions to permit maximum radiant and reflected heat.
The custom fireplace grate was designed by the owner and, like so many other features of the home, fabricated by a local artisan. The massive hearth extends from the inside, through the glass wall, and to the patio outside. Above the fireplace and continuing around the room is a gray steel trellis that contains built-in lighting.
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A dark red leather sectional and custom-made copper-topped coffee and end tables, finished with a red glaze, anchor the living room. The large lighted niche in the living room features a Japanese kimono as textile art. The south-facing windows in the living room capture the heat of the sun in the winter and warm the dark gray poured concrete floors.
Opening to the north patio, the dining area is flooded with light. Carolyn Woods created the fiber wall hanging in the dining room and in other rooms, as well as wearable art.
The open kitchen has Brazilian gray granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances and copper accents above. Cabinets are quarter-sawn oak. Ken Woods milled the wood for the top of the butcher-block island from an oak tree that had to be downed to clear the building site. Sterling, a local cabinet firm, made the butcher block and the cabinet.
With its expansive walls of glass, the restful guest suite brings in natural surroundings and opens onto the patio. An adjoining bathroom has a no-threshold travertine and glass shower as well as a travertine countertop.
In another wing, along a wall of windows, the light and airy hallway leads to a studio where Carolyn creates her fabric art. This wing has a guest bedroom and bath and the master suite.
The guest bath features a countertop made from the oak that had to be felled before construction, a substantial stainless steel sink and more textile art.
Beyond the guest bedroom, through another offset glass and metal door, is the master suite with the head of the bed flanked by narrow windows affording views of the gardens below. Visible only from the bed is a clerestory window through which the moon and stars can be seen.
One wall of the master bath shower is floor-to-ceiling glass with views into the treetops. A large bathtub offers views of land and sky. The wall of windows in the bedroom leads to a deck and a private patio encased by a unique railing made of welded frames and stainless steel wires.
On the patio that extends the entire length of the house are areas of grasses and sedges and a new Japanese garden. A large wooden slab from the felled oak tree has been fashioned into a garden bench. Tuck Weills set the stone for the walkways, and Carolyn Singer contributed to the landscape design.
A wooden bridge made of an incense cedar that had to be cut down crosses a dry creek and leads to a triangular-shaped foundation for a Japanese teahouse that will eventually have a copper roof. Truly, this is a garden in which to contemplate the beauty of nature.