RESTRAINT BECOMES THIS GEM OF A house on .18 acre in Silicon Valley. The clients wanted to use every square inch of available space, all the while reinforcing the dwelling's connection to the outdoors.

Architect Paula Krugmeier rose to the challenge with a plan that pairs alternating wings with discrete garden courts. A public realm housing the kitchen, dining, and living spaces features sizable glazed doors that open onto an east courtyard. Hard-surface flooring transitions to pavers, but the same block pattern carries over from interior to exterior. The more private west wing adjoins an outdoor retreat sheltered by a mature walnut tree. And the 800-square-foot, basement-level master suite faces south to an intimate Mediterranean herb garden.


All told, the residence lives larger than its trim footprint of 2,700 square feet. Crisp geometry and high, painted wood-beam ceilings show off its good bone structure, and although a clean sense of style is apparent, many of its functional motives remain understated. The design is fully accessible, including an elevator to the basement level, fixture and counter clearances, and level patios and walks. It's energy-conscious as well, incorporating passive solar elements such as sun shades and light shelves. Best of all, the house is a good neighbor: modest in its presentation to the street and sensitive to the scale of neighboring bungalows.


Award: Grand for best custom home—under 5,000 square feet; Builder: Pete Moffat Construction, Palo Alto, Calif.; Architect: BAR Architects, San Francisco

Learn more about markets featured in this article: San Francisco, CA.