Spaces with Stories: Tranquil Retreat in a Mid-Century Masterpiece
When Cord and Alfonso purchased Case Study House #26 in 2015, they knew this house was something special. Not only does the home encapsulate quintessential Mid-Century architectural design, its close proximity to San Francisco paired with its location, tucked away in the rolling hills of Northern California, make it the perfect match for Cord and Alfonso’s lifestyle. Equal parts lovers of rural tranquility and the hustle and bustle of city life, this home was a dream come true. With only the home’s original owners to proceed them, Cord and Alfonso purchased the house in 2015, and quickly got to work adding modern touches to this mid-century beauty. Today, they enjoy basking in the sunlight that moves from room to room throughout the day, filtering in through the floor to ceiling windows. And can often be found enjoying morning coffee with the local “neighbors” (aka, deer) looking on.
We took some time to speak with Peerspace hosts, Alfonso and Cord about what drew them to this architectural masterpiece. The two share what they enjoy most about opening up their space and what they think are the most inspiring aspects of this home.
Alfonso and Cord, where are you from originally and when did you move to the Bay Area? What brought you here?
Cord is from Germany and Alfonso from Guatemala. We moved to San Francisco 18 and 12 years ago respectively to pursue work and our studies.
What drew you to the Case Study house? What appealed to you most about it?
We like both old and modern design, and the CSH feels like a very minimal, modern home. It’s basically a roof and floor, held up by steel with lot of glass in between. It also offers a lot of privacy and greenery with the convenience of being only 30 minutes away from San Francisco. The program concentrated on the Los Angeles area and CSH #26 is the only house in Northern California.
What is your favorite part of the home?
It’s amazing how the sun moves around the house over the course of a day, fills the house with natural light and casts wonderful shadows on walls and floors. Check out our website or follow us on Instagram; we keep them updated with sweet photos and what’s going on.
What are you most proud of in terms of what you have done to the home?
We are most satisfied with how little we needed to change to bring it up to modern standard. The kitchen really needed an upgrade, but we could rearrange and refinish the existing 1960 steel cabinets.
Have you always been interested in architecture and design? Or have you gained a greater appreciation for it with ownership of this special home?
Cord is an architect, but we both like mid-century modern design, from homes to art. Cord also studied Art History and Restoration in Italy. This home was kind of a natural fit.
What are the ideal functions or activities you think this home is perfectly suited for?
The space allows for creativity and inspiration and we think that it would be of special interest for groups with an appreciation for design or people who need to. The feedback from people who have organized events at CSH #26 has been that they were allowed to forget about the day-today and focus better on the purpose of their meetings because the sense of secludedness the house allows.
So far most of our guests have used the space for day offsites and photography/filming shootings, but we think that it would also be of interest for someone organizing a small event like a dinner, birthday celebration or even a wedding.
Case Study House #26 is an important example of Mid-Century Modern design. Given the house’s historical and architectural importance, why it is important to you to open up your home to others to enjoy who may share a passion for design and architecture?
The Case Study House program still remains California’s most important contribution to American architecture and some of the best examples of mid century modern architecture came out of the program. Its intention was to present plans for construction of modern residences, and even though none of the prototype houses ever went into mass-production, such as the Eichlers homes, what it provided to other architects and designers is undeniable. We would like to continue that spirit by opening the house for others, who appreciate design and architecture, to organize their events in a wonderful space.
How would you describe the aesthetic of the interiors?
Modern meets mid-century. In trying to keep with the style of the house we have selected modern furniture, but mixed it with a few mid-century modern accents. One important thing for us is to be in a place that is comfortable and we hope that our guests are also comfortable.
Why do you host?
Often when people visit the house for the first time they comment that the house would be ideal to organize an event or a party. We both have busy lives and often travel for work and Peerspace allows us to share the house with others, even when we are not there.
More about Case Study House #26:
The Case Study House program was an initiative sponsored by Arts & Architecture magazine to address the housing shortage after World War II. Its mission was to provide a vision of how families might live in modern homes built with contemporary materials and technologies. With the post-war population and building boom, buildable land in California became scarce and more expensive, resulting in builders looking to hillsides as cheaper alternatives. Case Study House #26 was built in 1963 and designed by Beverly D. Thorne. It is the only Case Study House located in Northern California. This particular house was built to test the ability to build on a steeply sloped site. For more information about the Case Study House Program, check out Alfonso and Cord’s website, which offers tons of additional resources.