Bruce Damonte

There’s more to this exterior than meets the eye. The slitted façade is the south-facing wall of a 27-square-foot powder room—a tiny space that packs big impact.

Step inside the powder room during the day and you’ll be dazzled by a play of light and shadow. The acrylic captures the southern sun while concrete keeps the space cool. Schwartz initially tried putting a simple square window in the powder room but it didn’t measure up to the rest of the structure. Horizontal windows were considered, and then came the idea of slits in the wall that played to the lines of the concrete. This solution admits light but offers privacy.

“It took a village,” admits Schwartz of the construction challenges. Still, a structural engineer and master masons signed on, and the team built a full-scale mock-up before proceeding. “We found a section of wall where most of the vertical rebar could go to either side and then used horizontal rebar where the acrylic occurs,” he says. Then there was the pour—concrete, of course, has to be vibrated to get rid of bubbles. Panel wire was installed to hold the acrylic in place, and the wall was built in sections so it could be vibrated and built up, piece by piece.

The jury was hard-pressed to think of a powder room that plays such an integral role in the rest of a house. “It’s a secret ... you don’t quite know what it is until you can get up close to it, touch it, and experience it,” they said.

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