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menlo park

fuzzy logic

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PHOTO CREDIT TK

BY LEILANI MARIE LABONG PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARIKO REED

PHOTO CREDIT TK

Architect Matthew Mosey oriented this U-shaped home away from the school next door in order to create a serene and private oasis that is designed specifically for an indoor-outdoor lifestyle.

A cool modern home gets its warmth from the architect’s intentions, the homeowners’ style and two kids just being kids.

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The master bedroom’s entire corner opens to the pool area by way of a sundeck featuring an automated shade canopy. Bridget McIver furnished the house with Italian pieces from Dzine, such as Paola Lenti’s outdoor seating.

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rchitect Matthew Mosey, a selfprofessed modernist, is the first to admit that the boxy, minimalist structures he loves to design could be considered, in his own words, “frosty and indifferent” were it not for “fuzzy modern,” a unique discipline he’s developed to buck such unfavorable stereotypes. “By no means is ‘fuzzy modern’ an official architecture term,” says Mosey, a coprincipal at San Francisco–based Dumican Mosey Architects. “It’s an attitude toward materiality and livability that embraces texture, warmth, lightness and a connection to the outdoors.” The Menlo Park home he designed for two New Zealand transplants—Vaughan Smith, director of corporate development at Facebook, and his wife, Bridget McIver, a stayat-home mother—could be viewed as a paradigm of Mosey’s

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philosophy. While the design exhibits many trademarks of minimalism (clean lines, hard surfaces, high ceilings and lots of glass), the architect also integrated antidotes to the inherently cool style: a U-shaped courtyard, raised sundecks and a sophisticated playground, complete with a pool and— much to the delight of the couple’s young children, Emilia and Finn—a trampoline. “Almost every space in the house focuses on this courtyard,” says Mosey, who nixed a two-story plan because a second-floor view would not only offer nothing more than a peek of the neighbors’ lawns and the adjacent schoolyard, but, more importantly, would detract from the intimacy of the family enclave. In fact, the home was first conceptualized as “an archipelago of isolated islands.” But the eventual merging of the separate pavilions (which the architect CALIFORNIAHOMEDESIGN.COM

ABOVE: Finn, Vaughan, jokingly refers to as “continental Emilia and Bridget take drift”) for entertaining, sleeping a quick break from an and hosting guests has added, by afternoon game of croquet. virtue of its now-interconnected RIGHT: The integration of spaces, a more subtle intimacy. the pool area and patio with Such earthy wood details as the the living room allows for beautiful mahogany cladding on easygoing entertaining—as the home’s exterior, white oak pan- does a separate guest suite. eling in the master bedroom and walnut veneer on the kitchen island help defrost the home’s boxy shapes, spare decor and shiny metal finishes. Mosey believes that the custom-designed corrugated texture of the great room’s concrete hearth and the light color of the concrete floors are less austere than standard applications. “For most people, concrete is the stuff their driveway is made of, CALIFORNIAHOMEDESIGN.COM

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Fatboy beanbags and playful “Scrabble” tiles by Justine King make the kids’ playroom a rainy day place for movies and video games. BELOW: Both of the kids’ rooms are decorated with Blik wall decals, and Finn’s has an added touch: a wall-mounted fishbowl.

not something that could potentially make their home a richer environment,” says the architect, who also notes that the heated off-white floors are “visually—and literally—warm.” The home’s seamless connection to the outdoors—best represented by the great room’s clerestory windows, skylights and 40-foot-wide series of sliding-glass pocket doors—are also a major counterpoint to the cool minimalism. After all, the generous portals don’t just allow for an abundance of warm sunlight and fresh air, they also encourage a flurry of activity LEFT: The front door, which features a living wall by that brings life and energy to the Kevin Smith, has a high-tech stark architecture. system that unlatches as “The house is simple upon first the homeowners approach. impression, but it quickly reveals BELOW: The streamlined itself to be a space that is really Boffi kitchen was customized designed for family and friends to to hide all the unsightly necessities of a family of four. spend time together,” says McIver.

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“The house is simple upon first impression, but it quickly reveals itself to be a space that is really designed for family and friends to spend time together.”

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The kids and their pals ceaselessly explore the home’s blurry footprint with mad dashes from the kitchen to the pool to the trampoline to the basketball courts, which are located just over the fence at the neighboring school. Their parents also celebrate the indoor-outdoor lifestyle, in the context of legendary parties. For the home’s inaugural soiree in 2009 (made possible in large part by the construction team, SF-based Matarozzi/Pelsinger Builders, which achieved an almost-unheard-of early-completion date), several dozen friends feted McIver’s 40th birthday with cake and Champagne on a warm summer night. Since then, the couple has hosted such unique gatherings as a makeyour-own-pizza social for 50 guests and a wildlife-themed CALIFORNIAHOMEDESIGN.COM

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The McIver-Smith household takes on a new vibe in the evening, when two fireplaces and an ensemble cast of dramatic light fixtures are turned on. BELOW: The master bed and bath are tucked into the lot’s far corner, allowing for plenty of glass but ensuring privacy.

“Space gracefully flows through and around these floating pavilions, which creates depth. Interestingly, the structures also anchor the rooms.”

birthday party for Finn. Coming up: a karaoke blowout for 100 of Smith’s coworkers, who will take the stage on the deck adjacent to the master bedroom. Beyond the thundering bashes that have given the home its illustrious reputation as the ultimate entertaining pad, dozens of intimate dinner parties have also been hosted in the formal dining room—the glass-wrapped space near the entryway offers dramatic features that each take a different spin on light. A Bocci pendant is made from 36 dangling glass spheres that gleam from within; the steel-and-concrete fireplace reflects light off its polished surface and the flickering glow from the fire provides warm illumination. A vertical garden of living moss, created by SF-based designer Kevin Smith (no relation to Vaughan), keeps the room down-toearth and adds a unique organic texture to the elegant scene.

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To further texturize the architecture’s The freestanding architectural elements— The dining room, located to namely, the fireplaces in the great room and the right of the entry, is like a smooth planes, McIver, who is on the brink of glass vitrine at night with 36 finishing her degree in interior design, incorpodining room, and the powder room-pantry pendants and a glossy rated such elements as rugs and blankets (faux cube in the kitchen area—are residual influ- Bocci white table. Both fireplace fur drapes the living room sofa), plants (agave, ences from the early “archipelago” scheme. surrounds were customacacia and olive trees make up the drought“Space gracefully flows through and around designed and fabricated by these floating pavilions, which creates depth,” Concreteworks’ Mark Rogero. tolerant landscape in the courtyard) and, of course, art. Like Gangbar’s otherworldly piece, says Mosey. “Interestingly, the structures also anchor the rooms.” A sculpture by Toronto artist Ken Topher Delaney’s poolside rope spheres and an oversize oilGangbar symbolizes the multidimensional aspect of the on-canvas by Meredith Pardue in the dining room are also design. Installed on one side of the pantry unit, the abstract captivating works. But it’s the large photos of a toothless piece features hundreds of irregularly shaped porcelain orbs Emilia and a widely grinning Finn in the hallway that are suspended from the wall with short stainless steel rods. “I the real scene-stealers, proving that finding the gray area love the playful shadows these shapes create,” says McIver. that makes up “fuzzy modern” can be as simple as black-andwhite family photos. “It is just so unexpected.” CALIFORNIAHOMEDESIGN.COM

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Dumican Mosey Architecture  

"Fuzzy Modern" in Menlo Park

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