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Alisal Court Residence

Alisal Court Residence

Studio William Hefner
United States
Private Houses
Laura Hull

Alisal Court Home

Studio William Hefner as Architects

This project began 15 years ago, as a new home in a quiet corner of a canyon near the beach--an incredibly private location nestled against a lushly landscaped side of the canyon. Over the course of time, this family eventually purchased the two adjoining properties.

We built their main house and since then we have developed a compound. A main focus of the project was to bring as much light into the home as possible (given the location at the bottom of the canyon) and to take advantage of the unique views of nature that this site enjoys. Drawing a significant amount of inspiration from the early California Plein-Air Painters, the buildings are purposefully more about the gardens, with the interior spaces designed to spill out onto generously sized patios with majestic old eucalyptus and sycamore trees soaring above and lush plantings of various fragrances, textures, and hues offering views of the surrounding gardens.

The entry, located in a tower visible from the street, leads you into the house, which is located perpendicular to the path of travel. All the rooms in the house enjoy views of the backyard as well as the ascending slope up the side of the canyon. Towering sycamore trees arch dramatically over portions of the house and are used to shade patios.

Large, tall French doors dominate the backyard elevations, as do long covered porches on the second floor, taking advantage of light and view. The buildings have been developed in a pared-down Spanish Colonial style with a very simple material palette: smooth white stucco, understated Santa Barbara stone, and stained wooden doors, windows, balconies and eaves were selected to compliment, not upstage, the covered balconies fabricated with heavy wood corbels and wrought-iron railing. This project provided an opportunity to take advantage of those types of elements to add depth and detail to the rear facade.

The development of the adjacent sites focused on creating spaces for guests with a theatre, a capacious entertaining room for larger functions, offices, and a gym, This allowed daily life in the main residence to remain intimate for the family of three. Connections were created between the main house and the adjacent properties, which include a pergola-covered patio with a fireplace that joins the two principal courtyards together.

The interiors, characterized by warm tones, such as cherry wood floors, antique wood beams, smooth white plaster walls, and cabinetry in walnut, add additional warm tones. The family's home in Hawaii and the time they spend there has a strong influence , apparent in the fabrics, colors, motifs, and artwork. The homeowner possesses an enviable flair for accessorizing--and certainly the lushness of the interior is a reflection of her artistic sensibilities.

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