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Dwell Home Tours

Vista House

Kentfield, CA

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

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Originally a ranch-style house, our home was built in 1947 and was remodeled around 1982 by the previous owners. Because of a mold infestation, we needed to tear down the kitchen, living room, master bedroom, and both bathrooms. We didn’t have time to hire an architect and go through the extensive design review process that would entail; we redesigned the front elevations of the house and all of the exterior finishes and trims ourselves. We tried to make our house as modern as we could given the basic style and floor-plan. A major goal was to preserve and augment the open feel of the home by using many floor-to-ceiling windows. The exterior house remains shingle, but inside, we added very modern materials such as concrete flooring, glass tile, lacquer-finished maple trim, and glass doors. The kitchen is outfitted with anigre wood, glass tile, and granite. 

In 2009, we decided to do something about the yard, which was occupied by a large crab-grassy lawn and some beautiful oaks. We have a great setting with a view of Mount Tamalpais from one side of the house and a hillside in the distance on the other. With the addition of one relatively small retaining wall, we were able to create an outdoor living room with the Mount Tamalpais view. We added six 30-year-old Ascolano olive trees obtained from ancient olives, as well as five mature sango kaku maples. We used succulents extensively, as well as several different varieties of palms and bamboo. 
—Barbara MacDonald, resident

About the Architect

Thumb Tim O'Shea
STRATA Landscape Architecture

STRATA is a conceptualist landscape architecture studio with a reputation in approaching design with ingenuity and individuality. Inspired by local culture and environment, STRATA's exploratory landscape design approach transforms spaces into successful and sustainable artscapes.

Devoted to the creation of innovative and challenging ideas, STRATA is a team of highly talented designers with offices in Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Edinburgh and London. The name STRATA, a whimsical reference to how the group layers conceptual and physical ideas within the landscape, also represents the collaborative and cohesive approach the designers take to deliver projects. Art and landscape are inextricably intertwined and as a consequence spaces evolve that are emotionally rich with their own personal narratives.


Interior Designer

Landscape Designer/Architect 
Tim O'Shea

Of Note
Kitchen Appliances: Miele 
Furnishings/Lighting Fixtures, obtained primarily through DeSouza Hughes
Outdoor Furniture: Janus et Cie
Ascolano Olive Trees: Ancient Olives
Succulents: Succulent Gardens in Castroville
Palms/Bamboo: Instant Jungle in Cotati
Design/Fabrication, front gate/large water feature: Hugo McCloud 
Concrete & Steel Firetable (outdoor living area): fabricated by Concreteworks in Oakland 

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