Magazine article Sunset

"Treehouse" for a Los Angeles Slope

Magazine article Sunset

"Treehouse" for a Los Angeles Slope

Article excerpt

It climbs up to make the most of garden areas, interior spaces, light, and views

This house greets you squarely at the curb, but that's where the obvious ends. It twists, turns, climbs, and stretches to make the most of its garden areas, interior spaces, natural light, and views. Los Angeles architect Melinda Payne gave careful study to her sloping 50- by 88-foot site. It mature trees (protected by community covenant), as well as her desire to maximize outdoor play space for her son, led to a design that hugs the setback along one side of the property. Above a two-car garage sunk into the slope, Payne stacked up a 2,250-square-foot house. Angling of rooms and canny placement of windows, doors, and skylights helped her integrate the house with its landscape while also capturing seaward views.

The goal: a treehouse-townhouse

The plan at right orients the house from the garden side, where Payne located the entry. To reach it from street level, she laid steps up the lushly planted bank. Heavy timbers form arches at the bottom and top of the stairway to support bowers of bougainvillea and wisteria. For the transition between garden and interior, Payne used a glass-walled entry framed with clear fir 4-by-4s. The entry opens onto the living room; a dining area, kitchen, and family room fill out the remainder of the ground floor. Focal point of the living room is the fireplace wall, with its slate-tiled hearth, 6-by-6 fir mantle, and floor-to-ceiling firewood storage. Sunlight pours in--from the four-pane window centered on the front wall, from two butted-glass corner windows, and from a triangular skylight (a cutout in deck above admits light). …

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