My friend, Rebecca Ascher of New York–based Ascher Davis Architects, recently completed the interior design of a house in Atherton, California. I love the project, which uses hardwood to bring a touch of New England to the West Coast, so I thought I’d share a few images of it with you here.
Ascher’s client grew up in New England, so she wanted her family’s home to incorporate traditional Yankee aesthetics tempered by the free-and-easy California life style. Ascher began by paneling many of the rooms with poplar planks—an effect that evokes the exterior vertical siding often seen in vernacular New England architecture. The poplar has been bleached and finished with a clear matte sealer: “Poplar tends to be pink in tone,” says Ascher. “But the translucent white finish on the wood makes for walls that are beautifully warm, light, and dreamy.”
Ascher went with American hardwood for the floors, too, which are mostly six-inch-wide walnut planks. “Oak flooring is more common than walnut, which is generally more expensive,” notes Ascher. “But there are a number of reasons why I prefer walnut. Unlike oak, which often needs to be stained to get exactly the right hue, walnut is usually gorgeous just as it is. We did nothing to the floors beyond applying a clear sealer, so the natural variations in the wood are plain to see. Walnut is softer than oak, so there can be denting and dinging over time. But like me, my client loves the rich, characterful look that natural wear and tear gives to the wood’s velvety surface.”
Ascher used poplar siding in the master bathroom, too. Here, perhaps, the feeling moves even further east than New England—all the way across the Atlantic to Scandinavia with its wood-lined saunas and clean-lined interiors. The warm, honey-toned hardwood walls stand in perfect contrast to the cool stone-tile floor and the crisp-white ceramic soaking tub, ship-shape cabinetry, and painted-wood ceiling. The tub sits under a wall of windows, allowing the lucky occupant to gaze out at the wooded landscape bathed in the soft light of Northern California.
Ascher Davis Architects
274 Madison Avenue, Suite 1801
New York, NY 10016