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Natural materials and a resort-like appeal provide a warm and inviting atmosphere for those entering this expansive master suite

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The creation of a spa-like retreat in our own home is limited by budget and space. If there are minimal restrictions on either one of these, then the design possibilities increase exponentially.

For this master suite, the space and budget were flexible, allowing architect David Hertz of David Hertz Architects a relatively free hand in its design. The homeowner, however, did request an office and entertainment area be included. The result is a sprawling, multi-use space with a number of different open-plan areas.

"The basic design premise was for us to create a resort-like feel within the house that offered a respite from the city – which you can see in the distance. The suite needed to function on many levels and be reasonably self-contained so that one could shut out the world and spend some quality time away to rejuvenate," he says.

The space is entered through a large sliding panel, which, when closed, totally separates the suite from the rest of the house. A Cubist-inspired structure to the right of the entrance separates the bedroomfrom the rest of the suite, and houses a two-way fireplace and speakers for the entertainment system.

A light well to the left marks the entrance to the bathroom. It pierces through the floor and ceiling, bringing natural light into the area and to the kitchen on the story below. It is sandblasted to about halfway up, creating the impression of steam or fog, but this also allows for privacy. The diffused effect creates a thick beam of light which appears to radiate a natural warmth throughout the space. Natural light is maximized by the use of transom windows along one side of the bedroom, clerestory windows above the fireplace, as well as the light well in the bathroom area.

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Much of the design makes use of energy-efficient products and techniques, and environmentally friendly materials. The architect, who is well-known for creating eco-friendly designs, used this house to promote renewable resources and the use of energy efficiency methods.

"We limited the range of materials used to mainly natural products, like the recycled Douglas fir beams for the ceiling.Groutless slate and wool carpets are used for the floor," he says.

Radiant heating beneath the slate floor is warmed via a rooftop solar panel. The house also features cotton insulation.

"We wanted to demonstrate that it is possible to achieve an environmentally conscious architectural design using resources that are sustainable, and yet still present a desirable, high-end result," the architect says.

First published date: 26 May 2006

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Credit List

Architect David Hertz, AIA, USGBC, David Hertz Architects (Santa Monica, CA)
Interior designer Syndesis Inc
Builder Michael McDowell Constructions
Bathtub Custom granite
Vanity Granite
Basin Custom granite slab
Cabinetry Vertical grain Douglas fir
Faucets Vola, Kroin
Shower fittings Vola, Kroin
Shower stall Granite slabs with frameless pivot hinge by David Hertz
Flooring Groutless slate
Toilet Pacifica by Toto
Lighting Recessed halogen
Ventilation Panasonic
Underfloor heating system Solar-powered radiant heating