Gallery: Hillside Residence is a Sustainable Gem in the Marin Hills


For almost as long as they’ve known each other, Scott and Tracy Lee have been designing and building the Hillside Residence, a sustainable gem in the Marin Hills. The house represents their personal merger — or marriage — as much as that of their professional talents. Scott is the principal at SB Architects and Tracy is vice president of spa development for Auberge Resorts. Their house, which was featured in the AIA San Francisco‘s Marin homes tour, blends modern and green architectural influences with a spa’s love affair with wood.

Built into a hillside, as the name implies, the house consists of four small stories, totaling just 2,116 square feet. There’s a basement, a floor with a guest bedroom, a child’s bedroom, and a tiny nursery. The master bedroom gets its own level, and capping it all off is the living area, whose height earns it an exquisite view of woods and the San Francisco Bay.

A porch swing greets you at the entry to Hillside Residence.

Then again, it’s hard to say where the house’s square footage ends, because it moves so seamlessly between airy indoor spaces and partially enclosed outdoor spaces — which include a patio, a couple of outdoor showers, and an almost entirely enclosed porch, complete with a fireplace for weathering Marin County’s cool foggy nights.

Did I mention the wood? If you’ve ever doubted that recycled wood can be lush, and even alluring, the Hillside Residence will banish that thought. All of the home’s abundant interior exposed wood is Douglas Fir, salvaged from a single seed plant in Idaho. It’s the DNA of the house’s character, and links it to its surroundings, connecting it visually with the redwood porch swing in the portico to suggest Mill Valley’s logging past. The house’s exterior is sustainable Western red cedar.

Offsetting the wood is the salvaged metal that makes up the features, including twin armoires in the master bedroom and the grand fireplace in the living room. The bigger pieces were brought in with a crane. Metalworker Brian Kennedy lived in the house for three weeks, camping out in a sleeping bag, as he turned junk into understated grandeur. Interior designer Erin Martin gets credit for pairing the wood and metal; she’s known for combining stylishness with the earnestness of real craftsmanship.

The Hillside Residence is on track to earn LEED certification, showing how luxe LEED can truly be.

+ SB Architects

Photos by Cameron Scott


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1 Comment

  1. jillycholmondeley May 19, 2010 at 5:02 am

    I love the look and style of this house and appreciate its sustainability credentials. I wonder if the textiles and linens are as sustainable as the fabric of the house. My business makes luxury bed linen from hemp in a deliberate attempt to move away from cotton and the unsustainable quantities of water it requires in order to grow.

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