Magazine article Sunset

Out of the Box

Magazine article Sunset

Out of the Box

Article excerpt

3 Western homes that redefine urban living

AN OLD BANK turned vacation retreat in a tiny Montana town. A modern apartment complex in the heart of Los Angeles. A series of lofts carved out of a former icehouse in Arizona. These three winners of the 2008 Sunset Western Home Awards share a mix of high-minded design and a down-to-earth feel for fostering community. It all adds up to a creative new spin on what it means to live in the West.

Frontier grit meets industrial chic in a converted Montana bank.


Rural infill: Fernau's home is smack in the middle of the one block town.


This home allowed us to knit ourselves into the neighborhood" -RICHARD FERNAU

Open space

Think Big Sky Country, and you're likely to picture sprawling ranches and vast vacation compounds. But instead of living large, Berkeley architect Richard Fernau went decidedly small. When he first envisioned a second home for his wife and two teenage sons in "a quiet little cow town" in rural Montana, he knew he wanted to encourage togetherness. So he turned a 1908 building-the town's frontier-era bank-into a 20- by so-foot dwelling with two lofts and an open floor plan.

Fernau removed two false ceilings and added a central stove and kitchen downstairs, plus a small master bedroom and office area upstairs. An Airstream trailer in the backyard serves as the guest room and as sleeping quarters for the boys. "I didn't want this to be a 'No! Don't do that!' kind of home," says Fernau, who kept many existing features, including the concrete walls, maple floors, and a crude vault with steel doors. "I wanted this to be a place where we could roll away the furniture so the kids could play Ping-Pong or basketball. There's a feeling of liberation here. We can live simpler without a lot of separate space."

DESIGN Richard Fernau, Fernau + Hartman Architects, Berkeley ( or 510/848-4480]


Common ground

Just off L.A.'s bustling Santa Monica Boulevard; Gardnenoso is a modernist's dream. The 27,ooo-square-foot condominium complex-made of cedar, steel, and glass-is designed around an open-air courtyard. …

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