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Dwell Home Tours

San Rafael House

San Rafael, CA

Marin County Home Tours, Day 2
Sunday, April 29, 2012

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Located along a quiet road, the San Rafael House takes advantage of its views of Mount Tamalpais and the surrounding hills. Light and open, the home is a compact remodel of, and addition to, a 1940s ranch house 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 sits in a sunny and generous garden filled with an array of succulents and 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. The owners are 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 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 complemented beautifully in the kitchen by Heath Ceramics 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 tan oak on the stairs and second floor is FSC certified.

The remodel also offered an opportunity to perform energy upgrades, including adding blown-in cellulose insulation throughout, changing out old single-pane windows, and adding solar electric panels. Water-saving measures include low-flow and dual-flush fixtures. The house is also plumbed for graywater and the gutters are laid out for rainwater harvesting.
—Cate Leger and Karl Wanaselja

About the Architect

Thumb Cate Leger
Leger Wanaselja Architecture

Since its inception in 1991, Leger Wanaselja Architecture has been a leader in green design. The firm has won numerous awards and been featured in many books, periodicals and other media, highlighting our exploration of green architecture. 


General Contractor 
Rich Anstey, (415) 457-6327

Structural Engineer 
Kevin Donahue, (510) 528-5394

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Purchase a 2-Day Weekend Pass and receive free tickets to Meet the Architects Reception.

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