Located on a quiet road in San Rafael, this house takes advantage of its’ lovely prospects, looking out at Mount Tamalpais and surrounding hills. 

Light and open, the San Rafael House is a compact remodel of, and addition to, a 1940s ranch house.  The architects reworked the inside of the house and added on to create an efficient and open plan that actively engages the site.  The living room, dining room and kitchen form one great room with bedrooms, a family room and outdoor spaces radiating off of it.  A large new entry porch and trellis, soon to be covered with Kiwi, sits in a sunny and generous garden filled with an array of showy succulents, other drought tolerant plants, and beds filled with established perennial and newly sprouting annual food plants.  The rear yard is accessed by triple sliding glass doors that completely open the main living space, inviting the residents out to sit in dappled light under trellised grapes or the mature mulberry tree in the yard.  The owners being avid gardeners, more garden beds skirt the rear yard and a modernist chicken coop, built to luxurious specifications by the General Contractor, cantilevers off the hill. 

Throughout the design process, materials and finishes were selected that were not only beautiful but resource efficient and low or non toxic.  The kitchen cabinets were custom built by a local Marin craftsman from his own salvaged Elm. Counters and benches throughout are salvaged walnut slabs. The concrete fireplace surround and kitchen counters are custom cast, and complimented beautifully in the kitchen by Heath ceramic tiles.   The home also features an earthen floor in the family room and earth wall at the entry, both made with earth from the site.  The new Tanoak on the stairs and second floor is FSC certified sustainably harvested.

The remodel also offered an opportunity to perform energy upgrades including adding blown in cellulose insulation throughout the house, changing out old single pane windows, and adding solar electric panels.  Water saving measures included low flow and dual flush fixtures.  The house was also plumbed for greywater and the gutters were laid out for rainwater harvesting.

Rich Anstey, General Contractor
Leger Wanaselja Architecture, Photographs