Deer Park by DNM Architecture

Deer Park, a two-story residence located in San Rafael, California, is a modern masterpiece designed by DNM Architecture in 2022. Situated in Marin County, north of San Francisco, the property is nestled at the foot of Mt. Tamalpais, an iconic mountain known for its stunning views.

The journey from one corner of this unique property to the opposite corner reveals the modern interior spaces, grandiose views, and a seamless indoor/outdoor relationship between the two living areas. Deer Park is a stunning example of modern architecture and energy efficiency.

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About Deer Park

Site details and constraints

This project in Marin County, CA, north of San Francisco, is situated on a vacant lot purchased by the client. The V-shaped site has a natural drainage swale running through its center, effectively dividing the land in half. This topography offers both a challenge and an incredible opportunity for a unique build with a stunning view of Mt. Tamalpais and the nearby hillsides.

Design strategy

DNM Architecture’s design strategy combines practicality and environmental sensitivity to make minimal impact on the site. The main dwelling is placed along the slope on the northeast side of the lot to minimize the grading and maximize the views of Mt. Tam to the southeast. A separate two-car garage and ADU is located on the southwest portion of the lot, on the opposite side of the swale, preserving the natural flow of water. The home’s driveway begins near the garage and runs almost flat along the edge of the property (parallel with the road), connecting the two buildings and leading visitors through the property.

Creating a sense of procession and discovery

As visitors enter the property at the southwest corner, they embark on a journey from one corner to the other. The driveway runs the length of the property, past the garage/ADU building to the entrance of the home. A trellis-covered walkway straight ahead brings visitors to the front door and into the home’s foyer. Inside, the Living/Dining Room is revealed with giant windows exposing the natural surroundings. Visitors can then walk through the home and out to the pool and deck in the northeast corner of the site.

DNM Architecture’s design strategy of procession and discovery takes visitors from open sky to partially-filtered sky (trellis-covered walkway) to ceiling (indoors) and back out to open sky (patio).

Deer Park floorplan review/circulation

The floorplan was designed with efficiency and views in mind. The main artery of the home is the implied hallway (less of a physical one), the central access point for all areas of the home. The main floor/upper level is where most of the daily living takes place.

The large Living Room with a 14’ ceiling frames Mt. Tam to the southeast. Squared up directly opposite the view is a modern, open kitchen with custom European cabinetry. Two large glass pocket doors (10’ and 8’) disappear into the wall behind the fireplace, connecting the living area to the outdoor terrace with living and dining areas, pool, and bathroom.

The master suite is located on the upper floor with a bedroom and private balcony offering the same amazing views. The lower level contains offices, a family/TV room, and a guest bedroom.

Materials and interior design

This design uses structural steel modular framing for durability, fire resistance, and weather resistance, with stucco and fiber cement siding providing further protection against potential wildfire. Additionally, as with all new California homes, there is no gas – all systems are electric.

Energy efficiency

The home was built with energy efficiency in mind. It is highly insulated, with minimal glass on the north side and maximum glass on the south with overhangs. The linear design promotes natural cooling, and a high-efficiency mini split heat pump and hybrid electric heater are employed. In all, the building exceeds CA T24 standards by more than 25% (approximately 31.25%).

Photography courtesy of DNM Architecture

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- by Matt Watts