Class & Comfort

Chic, modern and eco-friendly home in Palo Alto, California.

| January/February 2004

“Some people think that green building means having a sod roof,” says Sandra Slater, an interior designer based in Palo Alto, California, “but I wanted to show that you could make environmentally sensitive choices without compromising on architectural design.”

Together with her architect and builder, Sandra has created a house for herself and her children, Jason and Liana, where modern design, personal comfort, and environmental concerns come together beautifully. With twenty-five-foot-tall glass windows, steel railings, and exposed concrete floors, the house exudes industrial chic — closer in spirit to the loft-like eateries that populate downtown Palo Alto just a few blocks north than its immediate neighbors, wood-shingled Craftsman-style bungalows.

“I didn’t want the ‘Birkenstock-granola’ look—you know, the earthy, funky house,” Sandra says. However, her architectural choices do reveal a certain crunchiness. A panel in the kitchen wall lets her toss recyclables directly into the house’s recycling center. Sandra’s silver Infiniti is parked outside, and she uses the one-car “garage” — required by city building codes — as an art studio. “It seems like a waste of space in California, where you don’t have to dig your car out of snow,” says the former New York City resident. “It’s ridiculous, this homage to the car.” In fact, Sandra moved to downtown Palo Alto from a “spectacular property with incredible views” ten miles away, primarily so she wouldn’t have to drive everywhere.

Softly modern

Sandra’s home was designed by EHDD, the San Francisco-based firm established by the late notable Bay Area architect Joseph Esherick. Esherick, who designed the Monterey Bay Aquarium, had a low-key approach to modernism. His buildings tend to blend into their surroundings rather than aggressively dominate them. Sandra fell in love with his work after living in her last house, an Esherick from the 1970s.

Sandra’s house was one of the last projects Esherick was involved with; he died in 1998 as the foundation was being poured. Cathy Schwabe, a senior associate who worked side-by-side with Esherick on the project, then took over as the primary architect. She now has her own firm in Oakland.

7/14/2014 8:09:42 AM

The interior designer Sandra Slater proved that it is possible to create any design you want by using friendly environment products, I was involved in such a project and was really amazed to see how many types of green materials are available to buy. I remodeled the garage using only green materials and now there is not enough space to fit two cars, guess I will have to use services till I will find a solution for this.

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