Brous Scherer House
James Gauer, with Bildsten + Sherwin Design Studio, creates a small house with an early modernist feel in Santa Barbara, where Spanish Colonial still reigns.
Santa Barbara, California
Situated on a skinny lot at the edge of downtown Santa Barbara, California, architect James Gauer’s 1,500-square-foot Brous-Scherer house is an anomaly in a town known for its code-enforced adherence to the Spanish Colonial style. Gauer’s clients, a couple who moved from New York City (Gauer had designed their Manhattan apartment), wanted to maintain the feeling of their contained, urban life in a California context.
Gauer, who lives in Victoria, British Columbia, worked with the Santa Barbara–based architect of record, Bildsten + Sherwin Design Studio, to devise a two-story woodframe structure covered in crisp-edged stucco. The house is composed of three increasingly smaller, well-proportioned volumes based on a 4-foot grid: The first, a rectilinear bar at the north end of the lot, contains the entry and kitchen; the second, a 16-by-24-foot box, includes the living room and two bedrooms above; and the third and smallest volume provides a loggia that connects the living room to the garden. “I really love the way we managed to squeeze a rather elegant sequence of spaces into a very tight lot,” says Gauer.
After parking in the garage or driveway adjacent to the street, a visitor must walk past the garden, loggia, and living room before reaching the entrance at the far north end of the site; the architect purposefully kept the garden intact with this procession. Gauer invoked Irving Gill’s reduction of the Spanish Colonial vernacular to convince the local review board to approve his design. “They see this kind of harks back to Gill, but they don’t understand that he was mimicking [Adolf] Loos, for whom I’ve always been a complete sucker,” he says. “He stands at that juncture between Classicism and Modernism.”
Gross square footage:
Total construction cost:
Architect of Record:
Brick paving and plinth: Harmar, Olivewood Mat
Wood and glass interior doors: TruStile
Steel garage door: Doors Are Us
Cabinet Pulls: IKEA Strecket
Architectural Metalwork: Chapala Iron & Manufacturing Co.
Paints: Benjamin Moore
Stone surfaces: Stone Source, Basaltina
Concrete floor: Anti-fracture surface membrane by Bellissimo Architectural
Bath wall tile: Ann Sacks, Metro Crisp Glass
Dining table: Custom design by James Gauer. Fabrication by Oscar Garcia
Dining banquette: Custom design by James Gauer. Fabrication by Booths R Us
Piano: Yamaha Avant Grand Piano, California Keyboards.
Garden Furniture: Fermob, Luxembourg
Oil Paintings: Jennifer Scott McLaughlin
Exterior: Hess America
Dimming System or other lighting controls: Lutron
Circulating water in-floor radiant heat system
Solar Power: SunPower 230 Solar Panel System, installed by California Solar Electric.
Ceiling fans: Modern Fan Company, Cirrus.
Other unique products that contribute to sustainability:
Water permeable paving in motor court
Heat-Smart® Window Systems with argon gas and Low E2 technology