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Orinda Residence

When a couple approached Butler Armsden Architects with a vision for their recently purchased home in Orinda, the challenge lay in how to transform a late-70s building into the client’s vision for a modern nature retreat. Butler Armsden preserved the overall massing of the building, splitting the program into a main, public floor and a lower, more private floor, and worked to consolidate the clusters of windows on its facades into larger openings to frame the verdant surroundings.

Inside, the central tension was between creating a home whose spaces could be both large, for entertaining and hosting guests, and small, for cozier, more intimate gatherings. The main entry opens up onto a long great room, subdivided into living, dining and kitchen spaces. Material finishes serve to both differentiate and unify the spaces. Wood ceilings persists throughout the main spaces of the home, adding a sense of drama and height, and drawing the eye upward. The smaller rooms punctuate the natural, restrained material palette with colorful, rich textures.

The client’s art collection entered into the equation early on, allowing it to be fully integrated with the interiors, which were done by Katie Martinez Design. Many of the rooms are focused on art pieces, and even the finishes were treated as art in locations like the powder room, where a smoky gray finish covers the walls, cut through by drippings of copper-colored wax, by Caroline Lizarraga. 

Outside, an unusually placed pool in the front yard was embraced. Butler Armsden made modifications and created an entertaining area, complete with a tv, pizza oven, and heaters for the family to enjoy year-round. The home has everything the clients need and will serve as both a gathering space and a peaceful retreat for many years to come.

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Special Feature

The client's favorite flower, poppies, made it onto the exterior of the home in a mural by Fnnch.


7300 sq ft


Orinda, CA


Federico Engel

Trisha Snyder

Sarah Herlugson



Joe Fletcher & Peter Lyons

General Contractor

Buestad Construction

Interior Designer

Katie Martinez Design

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