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Wide open; these two houses make one big volume out of working areas and living area.

Wide open

Wide-open spaces have always been animportant part of the West--and not only in the landscape; they can be important indoors, too. The open floor plan, which breaks from the traditional concept of separate rooms with separate functions, changes the ways we use our houses. It combines working areas (kitchens) and living areas (dining and family rooms, even bedrooms) into one big volume.

It's not a return to the one-room cabin;take a look at the two sophisticated and stylish houses shown on these four pages. Separate rooms and areas are not set apart; rather, they're implied--with walls that stop short of the ceiling, dividing screens, changes of levels, and placement of windows. In both of these houses, the floor plan allows clear views from side to side and almost from end to end.

An open plan inspires an informal andfriendly style of living. "Other than sleeping, there are never any situations in our lives that require a private room. Our house is an expression of that,' says architect Craig Roland, designer of the house on pages 84 and 85.

Besides an open plan, these houses sharecost-efficient design, innovative use of inexpensive materials, and a similarity in size (about 2,100 square feet). Because of site constraints, both are slender--with the main living area only 15 1/2 feet wide in one case, 25 feet in another. (This means simple framing.) Instead of hardwood floors in the main rooms, both have color-impregnated concrete divided into grids by finished oak. Curved and shaped gypsum board walls, with well-designed, unobtrusive molding, detail the central rooms. Standard-size window components are repeated to make dramatic walls of glass that focus views and allow the outside to make an important contribution to the interior.

Internally spacious on a cramped lot

A steep slope and a zero lot-line site (allsetbacks are taken on one side of the house) meant views would be limited and neighbors close, so architect Robert G. Zinkhan, Jr., of Santa Rosa, California, designed the main floor of his two-story house (pages 82 and 83) to be as open as possible. Only a shower stall and a toilet room are closed off on this floor--which contains even the master bedroom. (A conventionally enclosed bedroom, a bath, and a home office lie a floor below.)

Changes in floor level and ceiling heightmake some portions of the living areas intimate and others spacious. In the master bedroom, the ceiling height is 9 feet; two steps lead down to the kitchen and dining area, which has a 10-foot ceiling. The ceiling rises to 14 feet in the living room end, adding drama and focusing views through the gently curving window wall to the tree-covered lot. A clerestory window in the living room emphasizes the change of height. The higher ceiling also lets Zinkhan have a half-flight stairway (hidden behind the fireplace wall) to a small roof deck.

Shaped like an L--with a guest wing and garage in the short leg

The main wing of the house designed bySanta Rosa architect Craig Roland, of Roland/Miller/Associates, has the rounded ends of a streamlined train. The curves reappear in the back wall of the garage, one level of the main deck, a raised planter near the entry, the form of the chimney, and the roof of a second-floor studio. The curves give an expansive feel to the small spaces and disguise the house's slenderness--a scant 15 1/2 feet in the center, 19 feet at the ends.

Beginning at the stairway to the secondstory, the main room runs the full 61 feet through the dining area and kitchen to the curved window and seating area. In between, only a 5-foot-wide open grid and a 65-inch-high semicircular storage unit partition the volume.

While the Zinkhan house occupies tightsuburban quarters, this two-bedroom house enjoys a rural setting: it sits upon the crown of a hill, carefully fitted in among the native oak and manzanita trees. Views of the trees are unobstructed: window walls flank both the living and dining areas and run behind the built-in seat at the end beyond the kitchen.

All the windows help open up and "widen'the slender house--and also allow the sun to warm the concrete floor in the winter. (A pair of woodstoves provides backup heat.) Deep overhangs shade the floor in summer months, and the doors or windows on each side of the room can be opened to vent built-up heat.

Photo: Nearly house-wide, house-long view of top floor shows high-ceilinged living room, freestanding partition separating kitchen from dining area, steps to master bedroom (hidden by wall behind diners). Oak strips establish diagonal grid of concrete floor.

Photo: Sculpturalheadboard divides bedroom and dining area, has built-in reading lights and deep planter below skylight. Living room shows at rear

Photo: Main-floorplan shows fireplace masking stairs to roof deck (over a lower bedroom)

Photo: Curve of big window wall is echoed in fireplacewall and mirror above stairs to lower floor

Photo: Semicircular sofa of small family area faces kitchen, sits below butted panels of safety glass sealed with silicone caulk

Photo: Tiled, 10-foot-long island contains cooktop and sink,provides space for stools. Floor is stained concrete with inlaid oak grid. Light hangs from skylight well

Photo: Pivoting appliance garage swingsout of semicircular storage unit separating kitchen counter from dining area

Photo: Open plan gives spacious feeling to compact main wing. Living and dining areas, kitchen and dining counter, and curving family area fit into narrow linear layout

Photo: There's more deck space than internalliving area (shaded): entry terrace, main deck, private deck off master bedroom, two small roof decks flanking second-floor studio (darker shade)

Photo: Dramatic chimney, clad in prepaintedcorrugated roofing steel, echoes semicircular form and texture of upstairs studio roof
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Mar 1, 1987
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