Edwards - Taylor Residence

Remodel and Addition

Work Chronology

View from the street. The drive to the left goes to the Carport. To the right of the redwoods, to a parking place for one car. The house open to the street but the view is protected by the redwood cluster.
View from Carport looking at front deck. The redwood tree cluster is to the right of the deck.
View from the driveway to front deck and Entry. The entry needs better definition and a new door - perhaps a trellis to better tie the Carport to it and create a better transition from outside to inside.
View from parking area to front deck and Living Room windows. There is a water problem on this side of the house. It may be a good option to extend the roof to better shed onto the gravel area which is newly provided.
View from Entry into Living Room and out front windows. Entry needs to better defined. A pellet wood stove heats the house supplemented with electric baseboard heating. The original carpet is to be replaced with a new sub-floor and tile flooring. The drapes go to be replaced with a shade system that comes up from the floor. The front window faces South - the high window West. The light into this room is bright on a sunny day.
View from the Living Room outside corner looking at the front deck, redwood tree cluster and parking area.
View from the south end of the Living Room looking at stove, Entry and into Kitchen/Eating area.
View from Kitchen area to Eating area and into back yard.
View Eating area window and view into back yard.
View from back deck at eating area. Bedroom and Bathroom is at the right. The doors and windows from these rooms require redoing. A great opportunity is being lost here. This is Bill Brown the Broker who sold us the house. If you want a home in the region e-mail him @ wbbrown@quiknet.com - he does a very good job.
View from the west deck (the largest). The railing needs a little help.
View from the west deck to the storage area. This will be a great place for a hot tub. The building is on the property line and most likely cannot be developed.
View from the second lot looking at the east side of the house. This lot rises gradually, is well landscaped and makes an ideal location for a Guest/Studio building.

Photos taken December 29th 2001
Our first visit to the property



This is a nice simple house in a spectacular setting. There has been some water and bug damage due to a couple of design flaws that are easily rectified. This will take somewhere in the 12 to $13,000 range. The next task is to fix certain awkward design details, “clean up” the look (install simple tile floors) and let the basic purity of the design emerge. The East wall of the Living Room requires built-ins for books and simple pull down work stations. The back of the house needs to be opened by modifying the walls looking to the rear yard and connecting the Bedroom, Bath and Kitchen/Eating area with a better glass fenestration. A few trellises at the Entry and around the roof area (which needs extending in a couple of key areas) will complete the work. There is about $17,000 budgeted for this work which is about the amount the seller’s discounted infor damaged. When completed, this environment (including two lots) will have a total cost and mortgage at about a quarter of a million dollars - a very good purchase in these times in California. Starting in July and our final lease payment in Palo Alto, our monthly cost-of-living will be reduced by almost half while our living amenity is immeasurably increased.


This restorative work and new detailing will net a simple eloquent basic house comfortable to live in and structurally stable for a long time. The landscape setting cannot be repeated except the way that this was created: years and years of careful work. It is difficult to image, in California at this time, a nicer habitat that can be purchased for the investment. The hidden bonus, of course is the second lot which can be developed to house a Guest/Studio - more space for us and a place for family, friends and work associates.


After the Phase I work is completed, the physical work for the Guest/Studio can begin. This project, however, will proceed on a cash basis and that will set the schedule. I am working through the basic design NOW - before completing Pahse I work on the main house proceeds - because the intimate design detailing decisions for the main house (trellises, doors, windows, etc.) need to be made in reference to this latter addition on the site. The “styles” will be different but the two must be integrated and comfortable with one another in terms of scale, texture, proportion and some detailing. It is my intention that the Guest/Studio will be built by Gail and me and SFIA student architects. The Guest/Studio will be a small work with great attention to detail. It must be economical and built with love - it is an intimate piece. It is designed in a way that supports (requires) prefabrication and that allows the project to be realized on room (building unit) at a time. This will be far more friendly to cash flow than having to erect one big monolithic structure. In addition, because the units are structurally the same, the shop jigs and setups will produce a lot of building for little cost.



Elsewhere in May/June 2002



The first phase (Phase Ia) of work was completed between our closing in February and moving in mid March. Basically, this consisted of repair under the floor where there was rot and bug damage, putting in crawl space ventilation the lack of which caused the damage, leveling the subfloor and laying a new rosewood floor to replace the carpet. Drapes were removed and details cleaned up so that the simple geometry of the building is revealed and the view into the landscape is uncluttered.


In the front there is a large cluster of redwoods that have grown from the stump of a tree cut 100 years ago. This is the focal point of the drive and parking areas.
Living Room in early morning light.
The front redwood cluster seen from the living room windows across the front deck. The house sits about 10 feet above the road which is about 30 feet on the other side of the redwoods.
Further back and partially up the slope. The bare area is the old logging path. Just to the right of this is where the “Work” unit of the Guest-Studio will be placed.
Continuing around counter clockwise, the rise becomes apparent.
Closer in view of the corner and side of the house.
View from the logging path, called “skid row” by the locals, across the planter to the side of the house. The Work unit of the Guest Studio will sit here.
looking back at the front corner of the house and the redwood cluster. “Skid Row” is to the immediate left. It angles away from the house about 15 degrees.
View from the future placement of the Eating unit of the Guest-Studio. This is close by path to the Kitchen in the existing house.
Behind the house looking into the Dining-Kitchen area. This is the North property line behind which is several hundred acres of watershed owned by the local family-run water company. This land is likely to remain undeveloped for a long time.
Morning view from the couch in the living Room looking toward the Kitchen Dining area.
View to the back from the Dining Area a pleasant place all day long with constantly changing light patterns.
Outside the Dining Area (left) with the Bath and Bed Room to the right. The recessed porch is the Bathroom wall which we will open up in the Phase II work.
Stepping down from the rear porch looking to the SW Sun Deck.
The quality of the light is the big surprise of this environment. The Edwards spent years selectively cutting trees, pruning and landscaping to get the light to work the way it does.
The raise deck show the excellent drainage on this side of the house. It is good all around except for the Dining area corner where water drains directly onto the house.
Continuing around to the front deck and up the slope where the Guest-Studio units will be placed.
Back to the front on the left hand and roadside face of the redwood cluster. The slope to the street is just beginning from here. This is, of course, the first view of the house when entering the driveway.


Guest-Studio Design




The Schematic above layout shows some of the basic elements of the Guest-Studio design. Each “room” is a detached 12 foot by 12 foot glass cube. While all of the rooms are designed to be adaptive to several purposes, each one it also specially oriented and equipped for a single prime function. In turn they are: Work, Sleeping, Eating and Bathing. Each room has it’s own 12 foot by 12 foot elevated deck and the entire complex is tied together with an elevated deck - partially covered with a trellis. The site slopes downward from the Bath Room to the Work Room. The main (existing) house is to the left of the schematic plan. This area is actually an old log path that ran one mile down from here down to the sea when this area clear cut a 100 year ago. In addition to the 4 functional rooms, a 12 foot by 12 foot Utility Room will be built for energy and water generation and storage.


A requirement of the new structure is that the majority of the work be done off site. Pieces have to be pre-fabracated and carried to the building location so as to not disturb the extensive landscaping - the result of 20 years of work - already in place. This, in fact, imposes no hardship because this requirement has been incorporated as a basic design premise of the concept. The real outer walls and roofs of the 12 foot glass cubes will be the landscaping and redwood tree canopy, as well as, a few screens (turndowns of the trellises) placed in strategic places. Landscape lighting will make controllable cones of light around the units at night allowing different degrees of natural transparency and privacy. Shades, built into the mullions, will provide acoustic, temperature and visual attenuation on a panel by panel basis - both night and day. The trellises are placed so as to provide sun attenuation, shadows and a horizontal line emphasizing a strong sense of shelter.



Guest-Studio Unit Addition
Concept Sketches - June 29, 2002


Each “room” is detached from the other. One walks through the landscape to get from room-to-room.
The main elements are: 12 foot glass cube, utility core, deck, walkway, trellises and support tube under the unit. The units cascade down from the top. In some places, they will be close to the ground and “deep” into the landscaping.
At other locations, units will “float” above the site. This is determined by privacy requirements, existing landscaping and providing the right “massing” in relationship to the existing structure.
The glass wall are divided into 9 sections with a superimposed circle oneach side. Inserted into the center of this geometry, is an operational window or door.
The main trellis is oriented to provide sun control and appropriate privacy for the room. The crystal “lantern” on top is a vent, natural light controller augmented with 12 volt lights for evening use.
Each unit is a study in symmetry and asymmetry. Each unit is basically the same with differences determined by both its specific function and site conditions.
The composition is both serene and bold, structured and flowing. The redwood trees and rhododendrons are the “focus” of the rooms. This landscape composes the real walls of the environment.
This is what Schinler called “transparent” architecture. You see in and out, through and around... Only the Utility Core is solid (shingles to match the house). The units have strong presence and they “disappear” into the landscape.

Drawings generated in SketchUp

This new structure is to be as energy and water independent as possible. The goal is to be totally self-contained at some point. This is THE major technical design criteria and push of the project. The existing building will be, technically, left “as is” with any improvements to existing technical systems made as and when possible. Intensive food gardening will be added as time allows. The goal is for two people to be be able to live here for a total budget (food, tranportation, entertainment - everything) of $40,000 a year. This allows economic retirement on a little over a million dollars equity base (depending on the investment strategy). By choosing the timing well, this home-studio is three hours of plesant driving to Palo Alto and my other interests. At present it is, for us, the best buy possible in terms of cost and amenity trade-offs.



The vertical circular element below the center of each unit, besides providing structural support, houses whatever is necessary to support the process related to the special function of the unit be that sleeping, eating, working, bathing and so on. Appropriate devices fold out of and store in this “tube” - the floor can be flat or open to a bed, table, desk or tub as is required. This way, the basic 12 by 12 footprint is left free to the maximum degree and large pieces of furniture that are used only intermittently do not dominate the sense and other uses of the space. Neatness is also facilitated because a “put-away” environment is just easier to keep. One can think of these units as “ships” - they are boat-like in their use. They “dock” to the land but they do not sprawl all over it as so many buildings do. How structures sit upon the ground is a deign issue too often neglected.



The surrounding redwoods make the roof of the Guest-Studio units. Flowering bushes make the walls.
The canopy varies in height. Many of the trees are 10 to 15 stories tall - some taller.
The existing lot has be carefully cultivated over a 30 year period to create an unforced natural landscape. The new structure must both respect and add to this beauty.
The setting for the Eating, Sleeping and Bathing units. They will reflect the green in daytime and will glow like lanterns at night.
The land steps up from the North and East sides of the house in plateaus created by small retaining walls and fallen redwood logs. The total rise is about 15 feet.
There are blooms of various species nearly year round with the majority of the activity in the spring. This creates a sense of season even though the California northwest ocean climate is very mild year around.
Under the units, the landscape will be lower plants, bark and ground cover. The unit’s floor plane will be glass from the outer edges back to the large circular element providing maximum viewing.
The result will be layers of pattern and color fusing prospect and refuge changing minute by minute day and night.

Setting a structure into the landscape and altering the landscape to a building is one of the most intricate and most neglected architectural design challenges. The Edwards did an excellent job over a 30 year period. Far better than most professionals ever do.


The existing house is far from being a great work of architecture although it commits few sins and follows many of the Usonian, post-WWII ideals: small size, simple detailing, natural materials, abundant glass looking into a well crafted landscape. The orientation of the home to the sun, its fit into the landscape, the many decks for sitting and work, add up to a living ambiance that could not be better. Anyone would be hard pressed to improve it.


In the case of the Guest-Studio building, there are three key divers of the design: First, that the building fits intimately with the landscape and employs, predominately, the old logging path which still remains mostly open and bare; Second, that issues related to scale and grammatical fit between the existing and new structure be handled with sensitivity; Third, that the specific functions (eating, sleeping, bathing, working, sitting, and so on), served by the new environment, be individually singled out and highlighted. Most houses blur these distinctions therefor limiting the degree that each different experience can be “raised to the level of ART.” Think of these units as temples to the act of doing - whatever that process is - while maintaining a state of grace and contemplation.


In the vast majority of modern work, the sensual is lost. The FEEL of sunlight and water while talking a bath in a flower garden is not common. Why? We moderns are cluttered up with synthetic materials, synthetic look, synthetic experience. The ORGANIC is lost in the clutter. The mission of the Guest-Studio is to provide a very clear alternative to this (lack of) modern experience. Since this environment is designed for periodic stays, it can make a strong statement in this regard. This approach exemplifies many aspects of what resort architecture should do in order to provide authentic re-creation and re-connection (religion) time.





Work Phase Ia:

Work to be done includes plumbing for future floor heating system. Spraying for wood preservation before covering up. Replacing floor insulation before Fall. Augmenting under house ventilation. Leveling the grade under the house. Cutting doors for carpet clearance. Replacing flooring damaged by refrigerator leak.


Work Phase Ib:

Ideally, to be completed in 2002.

Skylight in Bedroom.

Roof extensions and trellises. Roof water capture and storage system.

Drainage and waterproofing around stem walls - North East and North sides.

Repair rot and bug damage to North Wall structure (?) and decks.

New window shade system (wait a full season to see if this is necessary).

Sleeping - Reading Loft over utility closet.

Repair windows. Modify/replace windows at Bed Room and Bath opening to rear deck.

Replace Entry door and back door to rear deck.

Organize storage areas.

Built-ins in Living Room.

Finish Design Development of Guest/Studio buildings. File for permits.

A new Project (September/October 2002):

After living in the house for 6 months it is clear that Gail needs and “office” for her writing and TomorrowMakers work. The desk in the Living Room is not adequate, neither in space nor in privacy. Over my last several stays home, I have been thinking about this and about three other possibilities: using the Bed Room/Carport roof for solar and a deer-protected herb garden, and the possibility that we could see the ocean from this roof. In September, the idea of a vertical “nest,” “Tiffany lamp,” “flower” off the West corner of the house came to me. On October 1st. we climbed the roof which, it turns out, offers a Zen view of the Ocean and sunset and is also perfect for the other uses. On the 3rd, I sketched the addition.

A Zen view from the West provides a sense of the ocean a mile away - spectacular at sunset, peaceful during the day.
The addition is made of laminated wood, steel and glass. The corner of the Bed Room is replaced by a circular stairway to the roof area encased in a wood base which flares out to become a circular work area covered by a translucent dome, steel and wood trellis. Hand carved stantions embrace the house, terminate the decks and support the structure which rises like a flower - Tiffany lamp. The work area directly faces the ocean view which is 45 degrees Westward in relation to the house.
The landscape slopes away in all directions from this side of the house enhancing the sense of height while looking into the front, side and back yard areas.
This project will encompass several Phase 1b projects and makes an excellent “stand alone” project that can test out several ideas that SFIA Architects-MasterBulders is interested in pursuing as part of our practice. For several reasons, then, it makes sense to put this piece on top of the priority list. Although it is an integral part of developing the Elsewhere environment, because of its unique architectural character I am listing it as a separate project.

Work Phase Ic:

Ideally to be completed in the Spring of 2003

Redo of Bathroom - tile floor, sunken tub, Sauna (on porch), glass wall and door to porch.

Install floor heating system.

Replace Kitchen counter tops and repair cabinets.

New electrical service panels.

Work Phase II:

Guest-Studio Unit # 1 - Work - to be erected in October/November 2002 as proof-of-concept. No plumbing and temporary electric heating. Remaining units and energy system to be built throughout 2003. (note: with the development of Gail’s Nest, the Guest-Studio project will be deferred until afterward. The Nest is a more primary project and we want to understand it’s impact on the property before proceeding.


Guest Studio - Unit 1 - July 4, 2002


Unit #1 is the Work Room. It is the closest to the parking, front deck and the house. The other Unites get progressively further away (except Eating is close to the main house Kitchen at the rear) and more private. The Guest Studio is for Gail’s and my use, family and occasional personal or business associate guest. This is not being built to function as an active client space or high activity work area. Other facilities in the Bay Area will serve these purposes.


These sketches were made during a 10 day stay at Elsewhere, my longest period here to date. This is an extraordinary home. A great PLACE to renew and rest while letting new ideas work their way to the surface of the mind. It is still here. There are many animals and birds. A magnificent landscape. An active community a mile away and the whole Northern California coast line. For me, this is a place of retreat and rest from active work - which my necessity is high activity and “public.” For Gail, her home and space to think through and create Tomorrow Makers. Any work on Elsewhere is to create that which will foster this sense of refuge, rest, study and contemplation.


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Matt Taylor
Palo Alto
January 4, 2002


SolutionBox voice of this document:


posted January 4, 2002

revised October 3, 2002
20020104.848801.mt • 20020106.555591.mt • 20020110.452988.mt •
• 20020701.398871.mt • 20020703.222200.mt • 20020704.914238.mt •
• 20020707.555511.mt • 20021003.659233.mt •

(note: this document is about 80% finished)

Matt Taylor 650 814 1192


Copyright© Matt Taylor 2002


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