Walls Are Overrated

Lauren Murrow | December 17, 2014 | Story Real Estate

Architect Mark Jensen is not a clingy man. But after slaving over the Larkspur home of packaging design executive David Turner and his family for the past five years, Jensen found himself alarmingly reluctant to leave. “I told them, ‘You’re the client I’m the most jealous of,’” he says sheepishly.

This isn’t your typical Marin perch with a picture window, after all. The Turners wanted a house with unobstructed views of the surrounding ridges from as many vantage points as possible—an indoor-outdoor space with an unprecedented emphasis on the outdoor part. “In this case, I’m comfortable using the word ‘extreme,’” says Jensen.

The three-story home is framed almost entirely in insulated glass that Jensen custom-ordered in the largest panes available. On the top story—which contains the kitchen, dining room, and living room—Jensen’s team designed a series of seamless floor-to- ceiling sliding glass doors that are set flush with the ground. The panes glide into a clever pocket system behind a single wall, making the whole floor completely open to nature—not to mention the adjacent pool and spa. Automated linen curtains encircle the floor on a continuous track, “like a big raceway,” says Jensen, shielding the family from the sun on hot days. “It’s like being in a tent,” he says—that is, if your idea of a tent comes equipped with a fireplace, fridge, double oven, stove, sectional sofa, and bar.

The wall hiding the sliding doors is covered in mirrored panels that create a pure reflection of the surrounding oaks. The roof above appears to float unsupported. “Some people want fancy finishes and forms,” says Jensen. “Here, we spent a lot of effort, countless hours—and, yeah, a bit of money—to make this house vanish completely.”

Downstairs, the south-facing bedrooms and bathrooms are shielded by perforated aluminum screens that re-create the site’s dappled light when the sun filters through them (of course, those screens can be thrown wide open for bathing en plein air). But the family spends most of their time upstairs, with the mountain breeze gently billowing the curtains and Mount Tam towering in the distance. “When you’re sitting in the living room,” says Jensen, “it feels like you’re on the end of a ship floating out at sea.”

Originally published in the January issue of San Francisco

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