The tenth Case Study House wasn’t actually intended for the Arts & Architecture programme. It was added on its completion in 1947, to fill out the roster, as many houses remained unbuilt. Clearly, the Nomland design earned its place on the list, having many features in common with other Case Study homes and, most importantly, meeting the stated aims of economy, simplicity, new materials and techniques, and indoor/outdoor integration. The different departure point, however, can be seen in the layout. Whereas Case Study homes were designed primarily for families, this plan is for “a family of adults”—which is to say, a childless couple.
This concept—unusual in the context—makes for an intriguingly different living arrangement, with the luxury of more space allowing for a sitting and working area to be included in the main bedroom as well as a separate study. There’s also a guest room and studio, each of which could conceivably be put to children’s use, but all in all it’s a refreshingly grown-up home. Where many Case Study houses worked to create a clear division between living and sleeping space—effectively creating a buffer around the potentially noisy, messy kids’ zone—here, whichever direction you head from the central entrance, it’s all living space.
The house was sited on a sloping corner plot filled with eucalyptus trees, and (again, as is typical for Case Study homes) the design works in harmony with this landscape. The floorplan was spread over three levels going down the mountainside, with a shed roof parallel to the slope. At street level, the house presents an almost solid plywood front, broken only by a few clerestory windows, a wall of pebble glass at right angles to the street, and glass panels flanking the front door. Between the relative lack of windows and the tall eucalyptuses in front of the house, the impression is strongly private.
Walk in, however, and the feeling changes. This is no enclosed box, but a light-filled home at ease with its surroundings. Every room enjoys ample light from full-length sliding glass, and direct access to outdoor terraces shaded by generous overhangs, not to mention those tall trees. Natural finishes (birch, mahogany, and white-painted Douglas fir ceilings) contribute further to the outdoor connection, as do the solid cement floor slabs extending from each room to its terrace, and the shared indoor/outdoor planting area in the entrance hall. A long corrugated glass wall separates the living room from the more private areas without impeding the flow of light.
To the left of the entrance—whether coming in from the front door or the garage side entry—a few steps lead up between the guest room and bathroom to the studio, which along with the garage forms the entire first level of the house, jutting out from the facade. This light, bright and yet private room enjoys light from three sides, with more floor-to-ceiling pebbled glass facing toward the entrance and garage; high windows onto the street; and sliding glass doors that open onto a small terrace, protected from view by the natural drop in ground level as well as the acute angle of that glass wall.
The guest room sits just below this terrace, on the middle level. This turns the sliding doors into outsized windows, and allows couch beds to fit beneath them, creating further flexibility in the use of this room. The guest bathroom opposite has no bath—nor does the master bathroom—another tell that this house was not built for children.
To the left of the guest room is that luxuriously long, sun-filled space designed for the house owners to enjoy both day and night. The street side is occupied by bathroom and dressing room, in front of which is a private sitting area, including recessed bookshelves and space for a desk and sofa. The front of this “bed and sitting room” opens onto a terrace visible from the living room—but not shared by it, because, just as the guest room was a step down from the studio terrace, that is on a lower level.
This lowest room is, without doubt, the showstopper. A wide open space includes both lounge and dining areas, divided only by the brick fireplace, and with an uninterrupted view onto the main terrace and garden. Sliding the doors open behind the fireplace enables the dining room to be extended out for entertaining, and also allows direct access from the adjacent kitchen to the terrace.
The kitchen is small (though with carefully thought out storage), again reflecting the needs of a household without children. But it does include a breakfast bar enclosed in glass on three sides, creating a charming bubble “for meal planning, phoning or snacks,” according to the architects.
In the decades since it was built, this house has seen many changes, with rooms added (and some taken away again), bathroom and kitchen fittings and surface finishes updated, not to mention the addition of a swimming pool and pool house. It was most recently listed for sale just last year, after another major renovation, intended to restore much of the original design. What would you prefer—the original, fully adult concept, or the extra family space?