Design on the Edge

By Dan Gregory

The glass pavilion in the sky is the signature feature of this new house by Robert Nebolon.

Recently architect Robert Nebolon gave me a tour of his latest project, Sunset Magazine's 2016 Bay Area Idea House, on a steep lot in Oakland's Claremont Hills, east of San Francisco. Robert is the designer of our Mid-century Modern and Eichler-inspired Plan 438-1, which has been built in Knoxville, Tennessee. It's always good to find out what our Signature Studio is up to when they're not designing stock plans! This new house 

drops down the southwest facing slope in a series of cantilevered trays, offering dramatic views from each of its five levels. The entrance from the road offers an immediate surprise with 

what Robert calls the "Sky Deck," shown here, a glass enclosed outdoor living platform at the top of the house. The glass windbreak is actually Robert's clever adaptation of a railing system by Feeney, which is most famous for their Cable-Rail system. This is where drinking in the view over the fire bowl would make your day very special indeed.

Each floor offers a different perspective. The kitchen and living area are one floor down

from the top. The backsplash is a wall of glass over the sink with a cinematic view across the canyon. Now that's where doing the dishes becomes less of a chore! Cleverly echoing that 

"view finder" is another more painterly vista behind the range: Arts & Crafts wallpaper in a birds and flowers pattern that is itself protected by clear glass. This is an idea worth stealing, especially for kitchens without such a view! Kudos to Geremia Design who did the interior design. The living room opens to a spacious covered deck and the lower bedrooms have their own decks and deftly framed vistas. The largest deck is at the bottom of the house, where, as Robert says, there's enough room for a child to ride a tricycle.

Idea houses are notoriously difficult to do on the extremely tight schedules that are always involved. Here Sunset, Robert, Geremia, developer DFI Properties, builder Landmark Development Corporation, landscape designer Michelle Derviss, along with Grubb Company Realtors, charity partner Oakland Public Education Fund, and the many advertising sponsors have made this project a success. You can tour the house Friday, Saturday, Sunday through September 26, 2016; to purchase tickets go to Sunset.com. Bravo everyone!

Exterior photos courtesy Robert Nebolon.

For a collection of house plans for sloping sites, click here.

Tue Aug 23 00:00:00 PDT 2016