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Houzz Tour: Luxury With a Treehouse Feel

Designer Jason Urrutia was finishing a project in Marin County, Calif., when a realtor friend told him she had something he'd like in a neighboring town. He wasn't looking for something new yet, but he went along in the spirit of curiosity. "The minute I walked in I saw all the potential," he says. "You knew, right away, yes."

The house, designed in 1979 by the late celebrated architect Charles Moore, is situated on a piece of land that features a lush mix of Northern California's characteristic live oak trees and other natural growth. Urrutia purchased the home and, in collaboration with his girlfriend, designer Martha Carvalho, transformed it into a luxurious home.
"The realtors, neighbors and friends that have come through the house have loved the great room with its connections to the decks and the pool — and in general the connections between the interior and the exterior spaces," Urrutia says. "There's a connection everywhere you look in the house."

This photo was taken from the end of the deck that also includes a fire pit and the outdoor kitchen.
by Urrutia Design  
"The main thing for me about this house is that there's a very modest feeling to all of it," Urrutia says. "This is definitely the kind of house that's comfortable — it's not over the top. You feel like you could be barefoot or in sneakers in it; you could entertain kids or CEOs in it. It caters to a lot of different people." Many people have commented on the treehouse character of the home.

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Although Urrutia would not describe himself as fanatical about green building techniques, he did reuse much of the original home's board-and-batten siding as soffit material and fencing for the remodeled structure.
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Urrutia also reused redwood lumber from a former Elks Lodge in a neighboring town for the entry pagoda and front porch.
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"I try to twist things as much as I can," Urrutia says. Hence, his choice to bring depth to ever-popular white cabinetry by using black cabinetry as the base of the island. The glass pendants were from Ballard Designs.
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Originally the far end of this space — now a dining area — was a bedroom. Urrutia knocked out a wall to transform a 14x45' room into this 14x65' room.

At right is one of the home's most popular innovations: two 22-foot folding doors that open to the pool and outdoor kitchen. "Before, it was all lit with windows, with a door to the deck at each end," Urrutia says. "I wanted to connect the indoors and the outdoors."
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Urrutia oversaw every aspect of the project, from architecture to design to materials. "Every final decision, right or wrong, was mine," he says. The furniture in these photos isn't staged; it was purchased for the house, and new owners acquired the majority of it when Urrutia sold the property.

A roomy, rough-hewn dining table perfect for entertaining groups occupies the area that was once a bedroom. A mirror further increases the great room's feeling of expansiveness.
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Sliding barn doors on one side of the dining room were made on-site of plywood, ripped with a circular saw to create the appearance of planks, and painted black.
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The end of the great room opposite the dining area is a living space shaped like two overlapping, offset rectangles, and this cozy segment of it has windows facing the back deck. Formerly, there was a wood-burning fireplace in the adjacent section, which Urrutia replaced with this gas-operated one built from Brazilian slate and old-growth redwood.

The paint over the fireplace is Benjamin Moore Woodcliff Lake (980) and the color on the window wall is Benjamin Moore Brandon Beige (977).
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The other section of the living area includes more plush seating and an ottoman that also functions as a coffee table. Divided-light windows maintain a sense of classic architecture.

"I like things that have reflection," Urrutia says. "There are a lot of mirrors, chrome, velvet, lacquered surfaces, a lot of glazed tiles in the house — there's a lot of life in reflection. But too much is a little too glamorous."
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The living area at one end of the great room is visible from the deck.
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The outdoor kitchen is equipped for cooking and serving alfresco, complete with another long dining table designed for groups.
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An area of the deck adjacent to and above the outdoor kitchen contains a fire pit and cushy seating.
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The pool is separated from the fire pit and outdoor kitchen by a tree-shaded section of open deck. All the outdoor furniture is teak, from Terra Teak in Mill Valley, with ample custom pillows.
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"I knew right away that the master suite needed to be a private wing," Urrutia says. On the main floor that also contains the great room, this space — formerly occupied by two bedrooms — now contains the master bedroom, sitting area, bath and closet.
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French doors lead out to a private master deck. Skylights bathe the room in natural light. At the far end is the closet, with windows that face the front of the house.
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The master bathroom includes dual sinks and a plunge-worthy bathtub in cool, clean white.
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The master bedroom, seen from its private deck.
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Heath Ceramics tiles on the master deck's outdoor shower — one of two outdoor showers on the property — complement the cedar shingles.
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Beyond the French doors is the master suite retreat, an outdoor lounge with ample plush seating and its own fire pit and hot tub (not visible, at left). The wall of green behind were 15-gallon plants that matured to this lushness over the course of the project.
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A private bath for one of the main floor's guest bedrooms features Heath Ceramics tiles.
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This is the powder room near the front entrance on the main floor. Elegant seagrass wallpaper gives it texture.
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At the top of the stairs between the first and second floors of the main house is a small sitting area backed by an 8x16' window that opens to the rear of the house and the pool deck.
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A tiled accent wall brings depth to the bathroom shared by the two bedrooms on the second floor.
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A glassed-in shower separate from the bathtub keeps the bathroom feeling open.
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An expansive mirror maximizes the sense of space in one of the two bedrooms on the second floor of the main house.
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The other of the two rooms at the top of the house is set up as a sitting area but is also designed for use as a bedroom. "We call this room the convertible," Urrutia says. The big window looks down on the staircase.
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The two windows on the far wall are just above the home's front entryway.
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A set of exterior steps, accessed from the front of the house, leads to a completely separate guest apartment with its own private entry. Overhead, the eaves were notched to accommodate a tree branch.
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The guest apartment includes a full kitchen and a roomy living area.
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The apartment includes a raised area that can be used as an extension of the living area or as an office (it has its own storage closet, center).
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The guest apartment's bedroom.
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"None of landscaping was there," Urrutia says. "Only mature trees — everything else was planted. The rock walls weren't there, the grasses weren't there; it was all planted." This view is looking up toward the back of the house and the pool deck.

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