In Palo Alto, Klopf Architecture Designs the C-Through House

Well-known for restoring more than 200 Eichler homes in Northern California, Klopf Architecture is equally adept at designing homes built from the ground up.

Case in point: the firm’s new C-Through residence in Palo Alto.

It draws its name partially from its shape, but also from its visibility out to a mature landscape left in place after the clients took a 1950s one-story down.

“They had grown a perimeter of trees and vegetation all around the property, and all that had to stay,” says architect Joh Klopf. “They had an orchard of fruit trees in back they wanted to keep.”

Where gaps occurred, a landscape architect filled them in for privacy. But those views outward were a priority. “They wanted different spots to lounge around in the house,” says project architect Angela Alexander. “They love trees and plants and wanted to keep the greenery and be visible from most of the rooms.”

Its design in a “C” shape means there’s a small, private courtyard and a large backyard, all shoehorned into the small, 7,500-square-foot lot. “The lot is rectangular, and had to follow setbacks and be laid out with enough front yard and side yards, and preserve the vegetation and provide room for the deck at the back,” she says.

The four-bedroom home is 3,147 square feet on two levels and is lifted 30 inches off the ground for FEMA flood plain requirements. It includes an attached accessory dwelling unit for visiting family members, with separate bedroom and bath.

Inside, the main common space for this family of three is a large cook’s kitchen that’s a gathering space and a hub connecting living and dining spaces. A quartz island, 16 feet long, is the dominant feature in the kitchen design.

And they use it together often, but also will go their separate ways. “Even though it’s a small family, they like to do things together – but in the evening they like to retreat to their own space and read books,” she says.

Which would be the raison d’etre for the bookshelves in every space. “They have a big collection of books and wanted to incorporate bookshelves in the center of the house, even in the staircase that goes from the lower to the upper floor,” says Lucie Danigo, lead designer on the project.

It’s located in a community of 1950s and ‘60s homes, some of which, like this one, have been replaced.

But the most familiar-feeling neighbor?

It’s an adjacent Eichler, an echo of this firm’s reputation for expertise in midcentury modern design.

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