There’s a house in there somewhere… TOPICS:architectureAZCarefreerocks Posted By: Emerald63 March 31, 2015 Talk about blending into the surrounding landscape. But when the landscape starts trying to close in… then moves inside… and possibly entombs you… …you might end up needing an escape pod.
It blends in because it’s the same color as the desert… all over. Although I have to say, I think there’s more color variety outside than in. Let’s take the most neutral color from the desert and paint the whole house inside and out that color. I’d be hugging the wood. Even the furniture! “Where’s the sofa, Marge?” “It’s that blob of beige over there with a shadow under it, Herb” That said, the room in photo 10/11 actually shows some other-colored stuff.
Otherwise, there are some pretty nice spaces here. nothing a few cans of paint, some different furniture, and maybe some houseplants couldn’t help.
Speaking of plants, though, I do like the landscaping as far as deserts go. Some of it almost reminds me of being in my wooded foothills.
A home of interesting yet subtle contrasts, like the desert it inhabits. Parts may seem a bit creepy, but mostly the result is an outright awesome and delightfully engaging interplay of man-made and natural, indoor and outdoor.
The house itself seems to climb the hillside, while individual aspects mirror the setting. For example, the entry stair (Pic 6) is a ravine-like path upward, ending in a sheltered, yet open, terminus (Pic 8). A number of other sheltered overhangs (Pics 42, 50) mimic natural ones famously taken advantage of by Native Americans, e.g., Mesa Verde.
The interior features an ongoing shallow alteration of floor level more reminiscent of gentle foothills (Pics 20, 35, 44). Many spaces provide a sense of enclosure, but without making one feel trapped. They aren’t so much defined as they are “suggested” (Pics 10, 13, 33, and my favorite, nest-like 15). Larger spaces have stronger suggestions, an almost organic cage like quality (Pics 19, 27), yet again without being oppressive.
Even the color scheme is subtly sophisticated. Warm colors are everywhere – lovely wood tones, tan stone, cream colored walls – and yet the whole never feels overwhelming, as the desert often does. The clean, simple aesthetic of neutral shades helps with that, though a bit of muted purple and turquoise here and there would suggest an appropriate desert sunset without negating the soothing background.
Together, all these effects create an incredibly inviting environment.
@Frodo: LOL! While I was busy touting the relaxing aspects of the decor’s palette, you’d already denounced it!! I have to say that normally I’d agree with you 100%. But out in the OMG-the-air-weighs-a-ton desert, I’ll take relief however I can get it.
What do you think of the other site-mirroring aspects, though? The form and elevation changes?
Actually I do like the multi-level. That’s me, personally. It just makes for very interesting spaces with a vertical as well as a horizontal flow. I like to hike in the mountains near my house and it’s like living on the trail.
The only caution I have with multi-level is the difficulty of those who are wheelchair-bound. I don’t know where I developed that sensitivity, but I have to consider that me or my wife may someday have that need.
I do like that it’s not symmetrical. Most houses aren’t, I guess, but the way it’s done here seems really nice.
I’m with you on the heaviness of the desert. Relief for me would be to have enough elements on the inside that didn’t bring a sense of the heaviness in. The crazy desert house in Joshua Tree we saw a few weeks ago seems like a good way to be integral with the desert and still make the place seem lighter somehow. Maybe it’s the trickling water or the use of shadows. But the amount of plain tan in this house is just a little overwhelming. In my area, it’s the color of the lawn either in winter or during a drought and reminds me of dead things.
@Frodo: I took a look at the Joshua Tree house again. I must say, compared to this one it has a very alien feel to it. I definitely feel like I’m totally immersed in the desert in that one. I may be in a heavily shaded oasis, but the materials and forms are Grade-A desert echoes. There’s just no “house in a desert” feel to it – it’s the desert but with someone having set up housekeeping in it. A nice effect, but it requires a commitment to living in a way that’s not typical. I guess I’m a bit wimpier than that.
I know what you mean about looking toward the future with the multiple floor levels here. When my folks were looking for what would likely be (and was) their final house, they were in their 50s. I suppose they were thinking ahead because my dad inspected nursing homes for the federal government, making him acutely aware of what getting old can look like. For that reason they chose a ranch house. They didn’t even look at 2-story homes and only casually perused some split levels. Their choice was a good one. Even the 3-4 steps on the front porch and in from the garage were very problematic in their last years. Having visited Italian hill towns, I’ve always wondered how in the world the elderly, or anyone who’s not 100% mobile, manage to ever leave their home. (Come to think of it, can ambulances get anywhere close to some neighborhoods?) But boy… those towns sure look grand and keep the mind nimble from all the visual processing. Granted you can get outside to see them.