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Less is more: Los Altos residence blends modern aesthetic with family living


Photo By: Photos by Ellie Van Houtte?Town Crier
Photo Photos By Ellie Van Houtte?Town Crier The Naumovski family’s Los Altos home features a central living space with lots of natural light from skylights. The interior – sleek with wood, glass, stainless steel and aluminum – flows seamlessly to the exterior of the home.

If it weren’t for their two sons, Vivi Chan Naumovski and her scientist husband, Louie Naumovski, would still be living in a two-bedroom condominium.

“We’re workaholics and minimalists,” said Chan, a Coldwell Banker real estate agent and former interior designer.

Because of the boys, they built an ultramodern residence in Los Altos where the children are the center of the home.

“We want the kids around us,” she said.

“The central public spaces are book-ended by parents on the one side and children on the other,” said architect Stan Field of Field Architecture in Palo Alto.

His design supports the concept of “independent and collective experience,” he said. In other words, the boys have their bedrooms on one side and everyone comes together in a light-filled open space with no walls – other than a sliding wall that closes off the master suite.

The three spaces are defined by Y-shaped cement buttresses, which are structural anchors as well as supports for the three staggered roofs.

According to Field, the pseudo walls also act as a thermal mass and, with the skylights, moderate temperature fluctuations while reflecting natural light into the spaces. The skylight over the central living space is divided by vertical beams, which transform sunlight into reflected light.

“We rarely turn the lights on during the day,” Chan said.

Photovoltaic cells integrated into the roof panels supplement energy use, and solar panels heat the lap pool.

The sleek interior – wood, glass, stainless steel, aluminum – flows seamlessly to the exterior living spaces, which include a covered patio and outdoor kitchen.

The design is reminiscent of an Eichler. Interestingly, the Naumovskis lived in an Eichler for a while, but it wasn’t their inspiration for building this house.

“It was a love for great modern homes,” Chan said. “We looked for a home for six months and couldn’t find anything we liked, so we decided to build one to fit our family lifestyle.”

It’s “avant-garde” and “very daring” – her words – which is why it’s among the 10 modern residences being showcased when Dwell Home Tours comes to Silicon Valley this weekend (see “Dwell Home Tours,” page 40). The tour homes demonstrate forward-thinking approaches to site planning and sustainability.

“My design concept was to create a low silhouette echoing the neighborhood context and scale,” said Field, who expanded the square-footage to more than 3,700 square feet by integrating a basement and adding a sunken outdoor patio for natural light.

The entrance is understated – just a single aluminum and frosted-glass front door. There is no entry hall (“I don’t like hallways,” Chan said). Just step over the threshold into a dramatic space with comfy seating and an entertainment unit to the left as well as a niche for a grand piano. A central work table with computer stations for the boys serves as a room divider, with dining area and gallery kitchen beyond it.

Chan designed the interior, calling upon her 26 years as a real estate agent.

“Living rooms and formal dining rooms are becoming things of the past,” she said. “And I have seen way too many kitchen islands in my life.”

Everything in her kitchen is within arm’s reach.

“It’s a very convenient space,” said Chan, who incorporated slim drawers in the “toe-kick space” beneath the kitchen cabinets for storing seldom-used items.

Chan has taken advantage of every inch of useful space.

Built-ins are omnipresent – in the bedrooms, central living area and replacing walls around the industrial-like aluminum-tread stairway that leads down to the combination exercise/playroom and adjacent home theater, which doubles as a guest room.

“We don’t have typical theater seats,” said Chan, indicating the modular seating that can be arranged at whim. “Everyone can cuddle and be comfortable.”

The color palette is minimalistic in keeping with the modernity of the house – white walls, light maple floors and cabinetry, white marble and cultured white marble in the bathrooms, white carpeting in the master suite, gray Caesarstone and stainless steel on countertops (“I love stainless steel – it’s so clean,” Chan said) and Pionite Chicago Blue laminate surfaces on the built-in cabinetry in the kitchen and central living area.

There is an absence of art and gewgaws.

“The house is art,” Chan said. “So why dress it up?”

For the Town Crier's full album of photos from the home, click here.

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