La Quinta, California
Madisonhouse, named for the Madison neighborhood of La Quinta, California, where it is located, could also be called “Open House” in terms of its design. And that is how the property's dwellers wanted it. XTEN Architecture was given almost completely free rein to create a true outdoor-living home, with unobstructed views of the area's mountains. After executing sun diagrams and desert-climate studies, the architects created a 10,650-square-foot house that features expanses of sliding and pivoting glass doors and walls in even the most private of spaces—the bathrooms.
There were, of course, a few programming mandates, such as separate his and hers baths in the second floor's master-bedroom suite. The husband's is like one giant shower, with a drain integrated into the room's terrazzo floor. The wife's has a similar shower, with a drain floor, but the room's centerpiece is a sculptural, freestanding tub. Next to the shower in the husband's bath, a full-height glass wall slides into a pocket frame, giving him direct access to an outdoor terrace that overlooks the house's courtyard; the bath sliding wall for the wife opens onto a terrace that is exposed to a swimming pool below and a nearby golf course. The differences end there: both spaces feature white marble walls with custom chrome accents and marble-topped rift-cut-oak sink vanities. The medicine cabinets in each of the spaces have built-in lighting and television screens behind their mirrored fronts. Mechanized shades in the ceiling can be lowered to afford privacy in either bath, and the generous overhangs of the ground-level floor's roof help shield the wife's tub from public view.
The concept of blurring the line between indoor and outdoor spaces weaves its way through the rest of the house, as does the restrained palette. In the kitchen and dining area, a massive, dark-oak cabinetry wall and an island, each approximately 30 feet in length, anchor the space. A lightly veined marble forms the countertop. The architects concealed the appliances within these pieces, with vertical refrigerator pulls the only conspicuous element.
Contrasting with these weighty units are the dining table and chandeliers. “There are so many other massive elements here,” explains Austin Kelly, AIA, principal of XTEN. Using a 17-foot-long slab of sustainably harvested walnut, the architects customized a table Kelly had seen at a John Houshmand showroom, recessing the piece's glass-fin base into the top to enhance its floating appearance. They chose crystal-and-soldered-metal chandeliers for their softer, filigreed quality. “The lines also echo the contours of the palo verde tree, which we planted in the courtyard,” says Kelly.
On the east elevation, glass doors pivot open to the courtyard, while the opposite side's glass walls slide away for easy access to the pool. “I was there when it was 110 degrees, but once everything was open, a great cross breeze coming down the valley made it feel like 80,” says Kelly. “We designed the house to open to become this comfortable, natural thermal chimney.”
Location: La Quinta, California
Completion Date: March 2012
Gross square footage: 10,650 sq.ft.
Total construction cost: $5,250,000
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Austin Kelly AIA (principal)
Jae Rodriguez, Qichen Cao, Christina Kaneva,
Architect of record: XTEN Architecture
Interior designer: XTEN Architecture
Renderer(s): XTEN ArchitectureCAD system, project management, or other software used: AutoCAD, Rhinoceros, Maxwell
Structural system: Wood/Steel framed w/ Concrete shear walls
Floor and wall tile:
Special interior finishes unique to this project:
Downlights: RSA multilight
Task lighting: Se’lux recessed linear fluorescent
Exterior: Bega recessed wall luminaire, Vortech IVGA30 in-ground lightDimming System or other lighting controls: Lutron lighting control w/ Crestron system