Big Sur, California
Perched 250 feet above the Pacific Ocean, Fall House, designed by Fougeron Architecture, could easily have been overwhelmed by its dramatic setting. Yet the house’s interior, in particular, counter-poses a sense of security against the wildness of the site. The casual modernity of the design, which emphasizes warmth, comfort, and simplicity, stands in contrast to both its natural surroundings and the log-cabin architecture of the region. “On the inside, too, these clients specifically didn’t want a sort of ramshackle Big Sur house,” said principal Anne Fougeron. “They wanted something that was comfortable and easy to use.”
Fall House’s exterior and interior are seamlessly integrated, particularly in terms of materials. Aiming for a continuous floor plane, the architects selected a French limestone that is hard enough for both outdoor and indoor use. The stained mahogany ceilings and wall panels similarly create a dialogue with the building’s copper facade. The mahogany “wraps the building in the same fashion” as the copper and “gives a real warmth,” said Fougeron. The windows are also framed in mahogany, both a practical and aesthetic choice.
Furnishing the house, said Fougeron, “was about finding fairly plush but classic pieces that [the clients] wouldn’t get sick of.” Most of the pieces, including the sectional in the open plan living/dining/kitchen area, are from B&B Italia. The bookshelves in the den, which Fougeron calls “the hearth and home of the house,” were custom-designed by the firm for their former office. “You can tell it’s not brand new, which is sort of great. I love the idea of repurposing it.”
Valli & Valli
Fougeron Architecture custom-designed the kitchen cabinets in white and dark wood. “We like the contrast,” said Fougeron. “The whiteness provides that sort of minimalist modernity. At the same time, the wood grounds it a little bit more. An all-white kitchen would have been garish.” The fixtures are primarily sandblasted chrome, with Corian surfaces in the bathrooms. Downlights by Delta Lights and track lighting by Halo are integrated into the ceilings.
Fougeron Architecture’s interior design strategy reaches its peak in the den, the literal and metaphorical center of Fall House. The only room enclosed entirely in glass, the den could feel exposed. Instead, the warm wood window frames, cushioned chairs, and gas fireplace create a pocket of intimacy. It, like the rest of the house, is a refuge, a safe place both within and apart from its spectacular site.