Flow House

flow house

The owners wanted a home that responded to the grandeur of the Central Valley, and made it a part of their everyday life. When her clients invited Maria to assess the viability of a potential home site at the west edge of California’s Central Valley, Maria was awestruck by the immense scale of the view down and across the valley from the top of the hill. That feeling of flowing, endless open space became the primary theme in the house’s design and Flow House was born.


The 2,600-square-foot rural house was built on a 5.3-acre site for a professional couple with two grown children. A complex, double-height 1,200-square-foot public room, is oriented towards the view. The smaller, private rooms — bedrooms, studies, bathrooms – are stacked on opposite sides of the combination living/dining/kitchen area. The north façade engages the landscape through a series of folded vertical planes whose angles emphasize different views from both floors. Thirty-foot-high walls of windows connect the house interior to the exterior fields and sky, and the building materials and colors work in harmony with the surrounding terrain.

In many ways, the central living space resembles a large gallery. With the exterior views as the primary attraction inside, the architecture enacts a series of gallery display conventions: all walls are painted a modernist white, a niche cut between the stairs allows for sculpture display, and the great room walls are comfortably sized for hanging large, abstract paintings. The only significant breakdown of the purity of this whiteness is the living room floor. Its color matches the green lawn outside, blurring the interior-exterior boundary through an optical extension of the central space to the grass and fields outside.