The Art House, designed by Buttrick Projects Architecture+Design, updated a classic 1920s California home into something thoroughly modern. Located in Palo Alto, California, the home adds three additional small structures on two adjacent parcels of land. It also keeps the original home where the owners raised four children. The new buildings hold an art collection, playroom and workspace to create a private courtyard.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos
A two story gray house has a green lawn

Additionally, large UV-filtering glass windows maximize natural light for the artwork. It keeps it from fading in the sun, while corrugated zinc scrim at the second level softens the daylight entering the home. The home features large, glass sliding doors that disappear into pockets to create indoor-outdoor living spaces.

Related: This rammed earth tiny house has a green solar roof

A two-story house faces an external garage

Furthermore, the largest and newest structure is the Art House. This is where the art is housed, which doubles as a space for entertaining guests. The owners purchased the lot next door to their original home when it came on the market a few years back. Also, it gave them more space to work with the renovation. There is now art storage and a studio in the rear of the property while the new and original houses sit up front.

A two-story gray house

A pool and a small lawn connect the buildings in the backyard. Bedrooms in the houses face the street. Meanwhile, living room and kitchen are in back facing the courtyard, which creates maximum entertainment space in the private yard.

A living room features an open doorway, coffee table and chairs

In addition to the zinc facade on the second floor, cementitious panels are attached over metal “hat channels.” This is to reduce direct thermal transfer, thus reducing the need for air conditioning and helping to keep rain off the house. The new house mirrors the old house’s blocky vocabulary, connecting them visually even though they are not touching.

A white bedroom with a large bed in the center, a chair in the corner and windows covered by sheer curtains

Inside, curtains dampen reverb to make the space feel quieter. The homes have a “cool roof” with heat recovery ventilation. There is also dense-packed cellulose insulation and ample LED lighting inside.

The second floor level features a brown sofa and brown coffee table with the stairway leading down

As a result, the home inverts the normal layout of houses by designing large open windows at the back for views of the private yard. It’s a house for entertainment, for appreciation of the artwork and for peaceful relaxation with family.

+ Buttrick Projects

Photography by Joe Fletcher