Glenn Robert Lym Architect AIA/PhD

O r i n d a H o u s e

The houses that we've looked at so far in these Stories have
only incidently developed a 'style'. In those houses, style is Emergent and created out of the circumstances of
each project in its unique location.

In contrast, this Orinda house sets up a gamut of pre-determined styles and piles them onto each other. This house plays with images of imagined distant times and places. A part of the fun of working with these clients has been to play with their fantasies and illusions. For all this gesturing to the past, what has been created has not really existed in the past, but rather exists to complement a vibrant and expansive family life.
I began work with this affable family in the mid 1990's before they had children.
They had purchased a "big house" from its developer / contractor. They wanted both more entertainment spaces and more sleeping accommodations. At the time I did not realize that we would work on both of these objectives in two stages that would span more than a decade.
In the first stage, we created a new, ground level entertainment art gallery. The gallery was placed in what had been a north facing terrace in such a way as to create two small gardens between itself and the existing living and family rooms.
This meant that all these rooms would have natural light, views and garden access.
In the process, we were able to remodel the existing octagonal dining room as the formal center of the house, completing all four of its axial, arched portals. The family now had a good collection of public rooms for their frequent, extended family get-togethers, fund raisers and business parties.
The new, coffered gallery (below) opened off an axis from the dining room.  A sunken, wet bar overlooks a valley below.  Contrasting, asymmetric niches and ledges hold objects and conceal the automatic drapery.  A media theater system is concealed within the ceiling and pilastered walls.
Upstairs, a new octagonal, master bedroom is entered through French doors past a pair of spreading stairs to either side of a curved, reef aquarium.  A large circular skylight sits above.  The bedroom opens to a small octagonal patio with its view of the valley below.
It would be 8 years before we would recommence our work. In that time, the family had grown in size as it continued to work on the existing interiors of their home. Faux painter, Michele Tripp had just completed the Master Bedroom ceiling and would soon venture into the new interiors we were about to design.
In this second phase, the adults needed to reclaim living areas from the kids' drum sets and pool dripping wet feet. The parents had out grown their own closets and wanted to refresh their master bathroom. Additional bathrooms and bedrooms were needed. Downstairs, the family room and garage were to expand.
Working through a difficult city planning review process, the house grew to 8000 total square feet. The house is not visible from the street as it is surrounded by mature trees on its 17 acre hillside site. Yet my clients wanted to do a complete makeover of the exterior landscaping and the home's exterior style, color and materials palette.
The original, narrow entry porch was abandoned in favor of a more elegant and inviting entry of nested columns defining an octagonal pavilion amid landscaping and the car court.
The kids now have a side entrance complete with a
little arched, leaded and operable window speakeasy wedged between the old and the new garages. This entrance leads past closets for skateboards and jackets, past a new pool dressing suite, and out to the pool itself or up to the new playroom. The playroom was conceived a room with abundant storage, computer work areas, a media center and a performance stage. We were able to exploit a very difficult set of roof intersections over the playroom to create clerestory windows bringing natural light and ventilation over the stage. Several new bathrooms and a new bedroom surround the playroom.
The enlarged master bathroom focuses on a whirlpool tub that can accommodate the entire family under its octagonal, skylit dome. The tub overlooks the hillside and the pool below. A spacious octagonal shower is around the corner, as are new closet facilities.
The next page begins several stories of homes whose clients directed us to design in an earlier, set style.
Faux Artist: Michele Tripp Discovery Bay
Interior Design:
Martin Perri Interiors San Ramon
Landscape Design:
Michael Tebb Landscape Design Concord
Structural Engineers:
Fratessa Forbes Wong Oakland
Geranen Homes Alamo