Creative couple Jasmin and Gagan Arneja invite us inside their soulful San Francisco home, designed by Studio Terpeluk.
Jasmin and Gagan Arneja’s mid-century-modern home in Noe Valley, San Francisco, is a portrait of their inimitable creativity. The photographer and software engineer approached architect Brett Terpeluk, founder of San Francisco-based design office Studio Terpeluk, to collaborate on their architecturally significant 1970s home, along with colour consultant Beatrice Santiccioli and landscape designer Monica Viarengo (who also happens to be Brett’s wife). Together they sought to understand and honour its rich past by introducing a fresh vocabulary of colour, texture and lightness.
Redwood House was originally designed in 1974 by prominent San Francisco architect Albert Lanier who designed many homes in the Noe Valley region. As fans of his work, Gagan and Jasmin wanted to strengthen Albert’s architectural vision with new spatial experiences, increased flow and a heightened sense of wellbeing. New spaces have been added; a guest room, home office, wet bar and media room; at the same time that existing spaces were opened up.
Courtyards were multiplied to maximise connection to the outdoors while Monica made-over the gardens with vibrant florals and native Californian trees to ensure this was the case. “The outside spaces allow a deep connection with the garden and the movement of light. The proportions of the spaces are comfortable and comforting. We found ourselves gravitating to every part of the house; we can’t pinpoint our favourite!” Gagan says.
At the forefront of this design Renaissance are the ideas of preservation and resourcefulness; non-negotiables in this period of architecture and design. Brett accurately summarises the two ideas; “To be a designer now-a-days you need to both engage in a dialogue with the past and have a certain attitude about what’s going to influence the future,” he says. “This dialogue with history can elevate the nature of intervention, providing a richness of experience that oftentimes cannot be achieved through demolition or rejection of the past.”
The original architect’s penchant for natural timber (the home was a collage of different species) was something that both Brett and the owners were determined to preserve in the new design. The volume of timber, however, Brett notes, felt “muddy”. The solution was to remove the dark oak and western red cedar and replace it with Douglas fir. The visual lightness of the Douglas fir, salvaged from local San Francisco pier pilings, is peppered with dark blemishes that echo the preserved rough-sawn redwood walls and ceilings. In the open-plan living space on the second floor, the Douglas fir and dark redwood create a warm interior landscape that overlooks the city.
“Our home is a reflection of our values; our respect for nature, respect for integrity and respect for craftsmanship.”
The interplay between the softness of the Douglas fir and the intensity of the redwood can be felt as soon as you enter the home via the second floor. To the left upon entry there is a baby-blue lacquer cabinet custom-designed by Studio Terpeluk that acts as a screen to the kitchen. To the right, a library holds the owners’ extensive book collection.
The sculptural staircase features a handrail made from blackened steel and steps made from reclaimed Douglas fir. The architect and homeowners both say this is one of their favourite parts of the home.
“Made in China” by artist Wanxin Zhang forms the visual and energetic centre of the home.
In the living space is a sculpture by a friend of Gagan and Jasmins’, artist Manxin Zhang, which forms the visual and energetic centre of the home. The sculpture’s vibrant pink hue sets a precedent for the rest of the home, where there is a clear link between the use of colour and the owners’ personalities. “Jasmin and Gagan have an insatiable appetite for uniqueness and their lives are filled with curiosity and intelligence,” Brett says. “Colour was a recurring theme in their exquisite and eclectic art collection, which went perfectly hand-in-hand with my interest in mid century Italian design and its bold use of colour.”
“Our home is our base station; where we feel grounded, at peace and nurtured. But more than that, it is a reflection of our values; our respect for nature, respect for integrity and respect for craftsmanship,” Jasmin says. The past has lasting effects on buildings and materials, but more importantly, it teaches us invaluable lessons about ourselves.