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A Modern Home in Rural Sunol, California
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A retired couple hired Swatt Miers Architects to design a rural retreat in Sunol, California after spending many years in a city condominium. Longing for more outdoor time, they bought 5.3 acres of land that had unique views in three directions.

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The house boasts hillside and canyon ridge views so patios and terraces were installed on the east and west sides of the house.

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On the entry side, a tall stucco-clad, vertical element houses the bathroom and spot for the future elevator. Large overhangs provide sun protection for the outdoor spaces and the interior.

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The interior features varied ceiling heights from a low entry to the two-story ceiling in the dining room.

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Large windows frame the picturesque views of the rural countryside.

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An open staircase doesn’t block the daylight coming in through the massive windows and it takes up very little visual space.

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Sustainability played a role in the design with low VOC paints and adhesives, dye-free wool carpets, formaldehyde-free insulation and casework, roof mounted photovoltaic array and solar hot water collectors, cool-membrane roofing, hydronic in-floor radiant heating, and provisions for a future in-ground water collection system.

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Photos by Russell Abraham.

Caroline Williamson is Editorial Director of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.