Portola Valley House deals in contrasts: it’s a home for two with the flexibility to become a house for many. The design brief was to create an intimate space and a single-story home to age in place, with enough space for the couple’s children and grandchildren to visit, and to be able to entertain large groups.

Architecture, Construction & Design Awards 2020
First Award | Private Residence (Large) (Built)

Project Name: Portola Valley House
Studio Name: SB Architects
Design Team:SB Architects, Ryan Associates, Thuilot Associates, Lorissa Kimm
Area:Gross Built Area is 7,800 square-feet
Year: 2019
Location:Portola Valley, California, U.S.
Photography Credits:Aaron Leitz

Portola Valley House By SB Architects - Sheet1
©SB Architects

Created with luxury hospitality in mind, the 10,000-square-foot home in Portola Valley, California, is designed to capitalize on views of the rolling hills overlooking the valley in several directions, creating an idyllic escape. The clients are wellness-focused in their daily rituals, so, the design for their home maximizes that, with relaxing spaces specifically created for meditation. As you enter the property, you cross a small bridge, over an entry water feature. This tranquil courtyard arrival signifies a peaceful transition into the space and creates a sense of discovery.

Portola Valley House By SB Architects - Sheet2
©SB Architects

The design team created a mini compound of separate buildings, connected by lush landscaping, that reacted to the client’s needs, whilst also creating spaces that capitalized on different times of the day. The master suite is its own small structure, connected by a glass bridge to the center of the home: its living, dining, and kitchen. There’s a separate two-story structure with a small office, a guest apartment upstairs, and a garage with an art studio located on top.

The home is designed to encourage outdoor circulation. The living room, kitchen, and dining area are all set to capture the dramatic 270-degree views the location offers. To emphasize the barrier-breaking between indoor and outdoor spaces, the glass walls, that look out on public areas, essentially disappear to combine with an expansive outdoor deck and pool area.

Portola Valley House By SB Architects - Sheet3
©SB Architects

The architecture team planned and designed for the transient separation between the clients and their visitors. Designed as a transformational space, the clients can condense and shut-off certain areas of the house to live on a smaller platform when it’s just the two of them at home alone; and when they have guests, the glass walls in the living and dining area fold away and open to the pool and terrace, making the home ideal for entertaining.

Portola Valley House By SB Architects - Sheet4
©SB Architects

It was important that there was a minimal amount of casing used throughout the detailing, the attention to detail is apparent in the execution and alignment of the floors, walls, ceiling, and millwork. A simple material palette of wood, stone, and raw steel carries throughout the house, with cedar ceilings adding warmth and texture to both interior settings and the cantilevered outdoor areas. Walls and trim are clad in Brazilian ipe hardwood, and naturally stained millwork continues throughout the house. The interior designer worked with the clients to select and commission a range of furniture in soft gray tones, setting the stage for pops of color from the clients’ art collection.