It's A Breeze pix
An easy-living Santa Monica house by John Friedman Alice Kimm is green indoors and out
Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 2/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
At an eco-conscious Santa Monica residence by John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects, the living area faces northeast through sliding glass doors. A koi pond cools the entering breezes, while the garden is planted with drought-resistant species and partially irrigated by gray water.
The architects furnished the living area with a sofa upholstered in cotton-linen, a custom cocktail table in stainless steel and acrylic, a Charles and Ray Eames chair in molded plywood, and nylon carpet tiles. The floor is polished concrete.
Antique Chinese armchairs line a wall near the stairway atrium. On the far wall, by the dining area, hangs a Richard Serra lithograph. Standing next to it is an Isamu Noguchi floor lamp.
John Friedman's table in walnut and stainless steel, Eames chairs in molded plywood, a wool rug, and glazed ceramic planters furnish the dining area. To one side, a 500-year-old Chinese statue stands by the front door of Jatobá, a tropical cherrywood harvested from a sustainably managed forest. To the other, a 7-foot-high built-in screen of Mangaris hardwood conceals the kitchen.
In the master bedroom, Gregory Crewdson's C-print hangs above the custom bed, in cherrywood like the floor.
Limestone clads the open-ended tub enclosure in the guest bath. The lithograph is by guerilla artist Robbie Conal.
The architects used cement-board for most of the facade, stainless-steel panels for the garage door, and a plaster finish for the garden wall.
The kitchen is outfitted with synthetic-quartz counters and backsplashes, cabinetry lacquered with low-VOC paint, and an aluminum Model Six stool by Jeff Covey.
In the office, Eero Saarinen's Womb chair and ottoman meet Karim Rashid's Oh chair.
|Craig Ehrlich moved to Hong Kong 20 years ago for a career in telecommunications, but he never sold his property in Santa Monica: a not-so-prime ranch on a very prime 1/4-acre corner lot. When the entrepreneur and his partner, former Hong Kong legislator Christine Loh, decided to start splitting their time between Asia and California, settling in Santa Monica made the most sense. So did a teardown.
To build a bigger and better house on the site, they tapped the husband-and-wife architects John Friedman and Alice Kimm, Harvard University Graduate School of Design classmates of Loh's onetime employee in the legislature. Besides her government interests, Loh was also on the board of directors of the Rocky Mountain Institute, and sustainability became a cornerstone of the project for John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects.
A major component of the program, public areas open to a large back garden, luckily dovetailed with city zoning codes, which stipulated that the garden occupy the northeast portion of the lot, and sustainability guidelines, which reduce glazing on the sunniest exposures. JFAK responded with a southwest corner that's practically windowless, featuring a garage door of polished stainless steel below and olive-painted cement-board shiplap above. The southeast corner's two glass walls and two-sided clerestory are partially shaded by the plaster-finished garden wall that runs right in front.
Meanwhile, in the garden at the northeast corner, an L-shape koi pond wraps the living area, cooling the breezes as they pass through the open sliding glass doors. The 3,900-square-foot house has no air-conditioning, relying instead on cross ventilation as well as two motorized skylights that let hot air escape from the top of the stair atrium. A 4-kilowatt photovoltaic system on the roof provides much of the energy that Ehrlich and Loh need—now that's California cool.
Ditto for the casual "pavilion" feel of the ground level, unified by concrete flooring and the multiple sets of glass sliders that line the rear elevation's public areas. The spaces are related by appropriate scale. "We kept everything as low as possible," Friedman says. "I grew up with double-height living rooms, so now we resist them."
The corner living area, 16 feet square with a 9 1/2-foot ceiling, segues to dining via two steps up. Next in the progression, a built-in screen's horizontal hardwood slats cleverly separate the dining area from the skylit kitchen. Cooking is quasi-alfresco when the four stacked sliders are open—and eco-friendly in all weather: synthetic quartz for counters and backsplashes, low-VOC white lacquer on the cabinetry of formaldehyde-free MDF.
When the architects specified wood, they made sure it came from a sustainably managed forest. Brazilian cherry makes its grand entry at the front door—followed by a dramatic reappearance as the treads and risers of the cantilevered atrium stair. The balustrade's low-iron glass allows views upstairs, where the flooring is also cherry.
Aside from the floor, the second level's materials palette mimics that of the first. Sunlight is the real luxury. Even the guest bath got a narrow skylight, and the two guest bedrooms have access to a terrace. The master bath has its own, shaded by a hardwood screen similar to the one downstairs.
If the screens look slightly Asian, that's no accident. Furnishings and artwork seem to be splitting their time between the U.S. and China, too. "It's minimal without being minimalist," Kimm says.
Molded-plywood chairs by Charles and Ray Eames show up at the long walnut-topped dining table, anchored by cream wool shag, and in the living area, set on a pleasing checkerboard of blush, taupe, and white carpet tiles. But seating also includes the pair of antique Chinese armchairs lining a wall at the bottom of the stair. Between the living and dining areas hangs a black-and-white Richard Serra lithograph that could have arrived at L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art the day before yesterday. Face the other direction, toward the entry, and you'll see a 5-foot-tall wooden figure that was smiling quietly in a Chinese temple 500 years ago.