Timber & Glass Cabin by Don Emmons | Yellowtrace

Timber & Glass Cabin by Don Emmons | Yellowtrace

Timber & Glass Cabin by Don Emmons | Yellowtrace

 

Perched on the hillside in Mill Valley, just north of San Francisco is this gorgeous house by mid-century architect Don Emmons. Draped in cedar and expanses of glass, the demure cabin is bursting with character and unpretentious charm. Sized at only 112 square meters, the house was built for Emmons and his family and demonstrates an efficient use of space. A ship’s ladder, rather than a conventional staircase connects the floors. The second level is lofted and allows for a double-height ceiling that creates an open and airy quality.

Still in the ownership of the Emmons family, the home has been kept in pristine condition since it was built in 1951. Interior designers Charles Delisle and Ralph Dennis are the lucky ducks who happened upon this treasure after spotting a Craigslist ad with the vague description “unique architect’s house.” Suffice it to say, they got much more than they bargained for.

 

Timber & Glass Cabin by Don Emmons | Yellowtrace

Timber & Glass Cabin by Don Emmons | Yellowtrace

 

A unique architectural gem? Gorgeous natural surrounds? Available for rent at an affordable price? Tick, tick, tick a million times over! The two were understandably blown away and determined to get the lease. And although someone else beat them to it, the two designers ultimately won over the Emmons family with an impassioned letter that outlined their design backgrounds and reverence for the property.

Surrounded by oak and birch trees, ficus, sage, salvia and dwarf Manzanita; the home is superbly situated within its natural context. Emmons is known for his appreciation of wood and a respect for a structure’s natural environs, which is evident the moment you walk through the vine-covered fence that marks the entrance to the residence. The facade is almost entirely glazed with large sliding windows that connect the indoor and outdoor thresholds while also providing breathtaking views of the bay.

 

Timber & Glass Cabin by Don Emmons | Yellowtrace

Timber & Glass Cabin by Don Emmons | Yellowtrace

 

Despite it being a rental, you may have expected the couple to undergo a complete overhaul of the interior. And while both have experience renovating mid-century properties, when deciding how to tackle their own house, they took a ‘hands-off’ approach. They set about furnishing it in an organic way, straying from anything too structured and perfect in favour of an eclectic mix of their possessions. Moroccan rugs, Japanese ceramics, artworks and a mish-mash of chairs are lovingly thrown together to create a wonderfully warm and welcoming home. The couple have exquisite taste and are constantly exposed to high end design but admit that “in [their] own house, [they] like stuff that’s kind of worn and not so fancy.”

Dennis and Delisle have put their own stamp on the interior through art, accessories and furniture but they have allowed the Donn Emmon’s design to live on. They successfully celebrate the inbetween-ness of the house and the fact that it is architecturally and historically significant while also a bit raw around the edges. Instead of working towards a final version of the interior, their approach reminds us that experience isn’t always better when perfectly tailored.

 


[Image courtesy of AD Spain. Photography by Montse Garriga.]

 

About The Author

Fenina Acance
Contributor

Architecting away in Melbourne, Fenina is a shameless fashion, art and design fanatic who loves defying the relentless Melbournian uniform of black on black on black. Often spotted strutting a boisterous mix of pattern and colour, her eclectic love for the bold, raw and textured fuels her passion for design and contemporary art. When not indulging in Cy Twombly’s sensitive scribbles or Serra’s evocative sculptural forms, her love for everything Italian consumes the rest of her time. Whether it’s the language, design or food (especially food), Fenina is obsessed!

One Response

Leave a Reply