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Architect’s dream home: Stinson Beach House

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Stinson Beach House is located along the ocean at Stinson Beach in Northern California designed by Butler Armsden Architects with the interiors carried out by by Scavullo Design. The architect of the project, Lewis W. Butler purchased the lot for his family back in 1950 but it wasn’t until 1982 that they began to plan a house for three generations. Besides the natural challenges of the coastal environment, there was the additional requirement of having the house carry forward the spirit of a William Wurster designed house built for the same family in Santa Cruz in 1935. The William Wurster house was well known as his only real courtyard house, and also for the large outdoor living room that was very unusual for its time. The plan evolved into an H shape, with a living room at the center, and the wings creating outdoor spaces facing both the Pacific Ocean, and the coastal range, in either direction.

Rather than having an outdoor living room, the traditional living room has large sets of sliding doors that open to a position that matches the adjoining windows exactly, creating a distinctly outdoor experience. Depending on the weather, the doors can be open to the ocean, mountains, or both which provides great flexibility for enjoying the outdoors, indoors. The framing of the house is left exposed to the interior, which draws on the construction techniques used in early California beach houses where temperatures do no fluctuate in the way that they do in the valleys, and of course before modern building codes. The insulation was added to the outside of the framing at both the walls and the ceiling rather than in the wall cavity itself. Vertical grain fir wainscot hides the wires and pipes below the three foot level at the walls, and is used as flooring as well.

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Other materials incorporated into the design includes red cedar shingles, aluminum double pane windows, bluestone used at the courtyard paving, fireplace and countertops, and Alaskan yellow cedar at the wood terrace on the ocean side of the house.

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Photos: Matthew Millman

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1 Comment on "Architect’s dream home: Stinson Beach House"

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Michael J. Long
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What’s with the lighting on the walls? would love to see it lit up.

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