Designed by Robert Swatt of Swatt | Miers Architects, this expansive estate is a proud masterpiece erected from the ethos of modernism, built with warm hardwood exteriors and geometric structures that pin it against a verdant California backdrop. Designed with thoughtful use of the land it is built upon—4,000 acres to be exact—it has sweeping views of the iconic San Francisco Bay and Silicon Valley’s populous skyline giving it an elevated look from above.
The home occupies an impressive 9,700-square-feet and hosts six bedrooms and nine baths. Interesting to know it is also available, currently listed for $14.9 million through The Agency. The home resembles opulence, yes, but it also taps on the influx of modern design in real estate, asking the question: Can the clean-lined and marble-laden modern home offer comfort and nostalgia with such contemporary design?
We talked with Robert Swatt to get his take on classic modernism and its current implications. We wanted to know what makes this particular home an enduring yet familiar space in the well-heeled hillside of Santa Clara. “One of our overriding goals at the firm is that once a property is complete, whether it is a traditional or modern home, is to give the impression that they look inevitable, meaning that you can’t imagine anything else there because the home is tailored to that site. When you achieve this there is a timelessness to the work.”
Using a Frank Lloyd Wright design motif, we created a condensed space at the entry point of the home then had it explode from there as you get further inside.
Swatt worked with developer extraordinaire, Melvin Vaughn, to execute the palatial piece of live-in art. Vaughn had a particular home-owner in mind while crafting the design, one that is likely in the tech or sports industry who wants a retreat from their career-driven lifestyle. He wanted to bring the luxury of a five-star hotel to a landscape-driven oasis that combines the regions lush flora and fauna with high-tech amenities indoors. Stepping inside is a treat to the senses as porcelain tile flooring resembling Carrera Marble meets clean-lined walls that greet hardwood flooring throughout the living area. A gray and white stone kitchen is set adjacent to the double-height family room that all opens up like a breath of fresh air. The intention behind the feeling owners will have when walking through the glass-encased home is meant to evoke the sense of expansion. “Using a Frank Lloyd Wright design motif, we created a condensed space at the entry point of the home then had it explode from there as you get further inside,” Swatt shares. Stylistically speaking, the home evokes classic modernism—no gimmicks. According to Swatt, this means simple and well-proportioned lines with rooms that open up to one another with a spaciousness that can be felt throughout the whole home.
When asked about the stark and hard-edged quality of modern homes that can sometimes feel cold upon entering, he remarked that there was a turning point for him regarding this issue that occurred back in 1995. “I had done a lot of corporate work, and all I ever really wanted to do was houses. So, when we built our own house, we used a lot of exposed wood in the structure. And the very first person that came to the house, who also happened to strongly dislike modern architecture, was truly surprised at how much they loved this home, and they remarked that they would never want to leave this space. That conversation stuck with me. Many of the Bay Area modern homes are designed in all-white with glass and shiny surfaces, resembling the interior of a museum, but not necessarily a space in which you want to live. Our goal was simply to create a place that you never wanted to leave.”
They created harmony between technology and art that is fit for Silicon Valley royalty.
So, there is still the typical elements of contemporary design here like white walls, marbled flooring, and vertical and horizontal movement that keeps the home feeling very structured, but they also ensured there was enough wood to warm it all up, artful lighting to set a mood of relaxation and carefully chosen furnishings that invite the owner in to put their feet up and retreat. Because Swatt and Vaughn imagine a future homeowner that is thought to be one that relies on a dynamic living experience, they created harmony between technology and art that is fit for Silicon Valley royalty. The home integrates features like LED lighting, radiant heating, electric window shades and video surveillance that can all be accessed through an iPad for user-friendly control. The crescendo happens in the living room where high-quality speakers are mounted within the drywall to create a symphony of sound crafted seamlessly behind walls that could hang artwork or media systems. “People walk into the home and right away, ask us where the music is coming from,” says Swatt. This expertly executed design removes any obstructive grilles to be seen and evokes a mysterious appeal for guests as the music seems to emanate from thin air.
Eco-conscious consumers would be happy to know that solar panels line the roof, which is used for thermal heating inside and the windows and overhangs are engineered to reduce the loss of heat and cool air during shifting seasons. To maximize the impeccable views, which some might say they are the best in the Bay, each room was built so you have a view of the water and the opposing valley. We especially love the two master bedrooms on separate floors that can be accessed via stairs, or the elevator, that gives privacy to parents, visiting guests or grandparents alike. Swatt crafted a spa-like experience into their dreamy bathrooms by building standing tubs with views outdoors (furthering our obsession for tub-life) and bringing abundant light in through wall-length windows. With children’s rooms donning homework nooks and sophisticated décor, the property would be an excellent choice for a family of up to seven with space for guests who can reside in the detached guesthouse beyond the main home.
Modernism is also about how the building relates to the land Swatt tells us. So, the master bedrooms and kids’ rooms blend beyond to the outdoor spaces, like the sprawling terraces, manicured gardens, putting green and a glittering pool reminiscent of a resort-style watering hole in its mega grandeur. Swatt and his team aimed to dissolve the boundary between inside and out, letting inhabitants find their way without obstacle to the wildness outside where oak and olive trees abound.