Walnut Residence draws inspiration from massive pine tree

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The Walnut Residence, designed by Modal Design, is located in Venice, California, a beachside community characterized by small lots, an eclectic mix of architecture and a unique blend of personality. This is a low-maintenance, multi-generational home for the principal architects parents, his family, his brother’s children and their many pets. While the tight square footage of the lot and an existing tree constrained the organizational possibilities of the home, the connection to the community, the need for privacy and security, and interest in natural lighting, offered endless possibilities. The 2,700 square foot, three bedroom, single family residence draws upon the site and context for inspiration with a highly efficient layout and indoor-0utdoor connections.

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The home is carefully sited to preserve an old-growth pine in the rear yard, which provides generous shade to the main living space and serves as an organizational hub for the exterior program. An exterior Cor-ten wrapper juxtaposes the order and tidiness of the interior and offers a dynamic expression of the client’s tastes and character and lends an almost sculptural quality to the structure.  To minimize the building’s impact, efficient design practices and sustainable systems are used throughout.

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On the first floor, an open plan flows from living to kitchen to outdoors in one linear motion. Concrete floors, dark-colored furniture and large open spaces negate any need for delicate care, instantly putting everyone at ease.

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There kitchen features ample storage areas along the 70-foot long walnut wall-slash-cabinet. The refrigerator, kitchen items and other goods easily disappear into the wall when not in use. The nonporous, stain-, scratch- and heat-resistant Caesarstone countertops make for easy cleanup.

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Trex was used on the deck outside, made from recycled plastic and waste wood. The deck is weather-resistant and will never need painting or staining.

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The office offers generous views of the backyard, pool and Jacuzzi.

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The Cor-ten steel curtain punched with holes keeps the home’s sense of privacy while allowing copious amounts of light to shine through to the interior.

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The circular cutouts are re-purposed into a staircase balustrade that adds an artistic element to the home.

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The quality of light changes all throughout the year. During the winter, the shadows created by the circles climb up the entire wall of a room; during the summer, they only reach up to the floor. The panels also have a cooling effect, shading the rooms from the sun’s hot rays.

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The stone pine tree reveals itself from the backyard looking over the Venice neighborhood. Its canopy stretches over the first floor of the home and can be glimpsed by the skylights placed strategically above the living area.

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Before the family purchased this property, it was in the sorriest of states. It was home to a rundown 1920s dwelling piled high with trash and on its last legs. “We walked in for a minute and had to walk back out to get a breath of air then walk back in. It was really thick and moldy—really bad,” states the homeowner of walking through the original home.

Photos: Benny Chan

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