Looking at this stunning mountaintop retreat, it’s very hard to believe that it is a prefab home. Yet, it is specifically the prefab nature of this construction that makes it so special because it allowed the homeowners to design the California getaway of their dreams with minimal impact on the landscape and environment.
Set on a 64-acre property about three hours north of San Francisco in Willits, California, the home has an elevation of 2,300 feet. The location provides amazing views of the surrounding mountains and forested valley below. The secluded spot is also a much-desired break from the urban nature of the primary home belonging to Clive McCarthy and his wife, Tricia Bell. The expansive property includes meadows and pristine woodlands full of Ponderosa pines, Douglas firs, oaks and countless other species of trees.
Preserving the untouched nature of the property was a priority for the couple, so they engaged Kieran Timberlake, a firm based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which does work with prefabricated housing. The company’s designs are an “alchemy of art, science, analysis, and intuition with regard to the built environment” and its philosophy is one of provoking change in architecture by “pushing the boundaries of current norms for design and construction.”
The result is a striking minimalist main house that covers 2,580-square-feet and two 290-square-foot guest cabins that are each in their own, secluded location with spectacular views. The couple’s residence was constructed from two main modules combined with and 11 secondary modules that were arranged into two offset sections: One contains the great room and is focused on the view of the valley. The master bedroom and study occupy the second section that faces north, offering a panorama of the canyon. The home takes excellent advantage of floor-to-ceiling glazed Fleetwood glass doors that pivot, allowing the boundaries between the indoors and out to virtually disappear. Using reclaimed Douglas fir for the ceilings that are 11 feet high, and stone-tiled floors have built-in radiant heating for efficient use of energy.
The main living space features an entire wall of pivoting doors, allowing for an unparalleled connection with the outdoor environment. The space includes a comfortable living room and fully equipped kitchen. Two island units provide ample countertop workspace and the arrangement of cabinetry on the wall incorporates transom windows above, which adds light as well as ventilation to the room.
The layout of the modular units creates a corridor from the living space to the den that is attached to the master bedroom. When both pivoting doors are open the breeze freely flows through the home. Touches like these make the living space feel like it is an integral part of the outdoor environment.
Another feature of the home is the use of recycled and engineered materials. The support posts in the home are made from Glulam — or glued laminated timber — an engineered wood product. The Engineered Wood Association says that pound for pound, this material is stronger than steel and comparably sized dimensional lumber. The design and natural appearance of these columns are attractive additions to the home.
To preserve their privacy while entertaining guests, the couple opted to have the two, 290-square-foot guest cabins. Each one sits in a secluded spot, taking advantage of the forest and the views. Perched on the mountainside, each minimalist prefab structure has storage for enough wood to keep the cabin cozy and warm in cooler weather. In the case of the cabins, as with the main house, the exterior structure maintains a low profile and unassuming silhouette, thus minimally disturbing the surrounding environment from a visual perspective.
The cabins also feature pivoting doors that guests can fling open to enjoy the bucolic surroundings of the unspoiled forest.