Lighter than Air: Kafka House, La Jolla, by Safdie Rabines Architects

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It’s not a cliff dwelling, but it feels like one: it’s the Kafka residence, a sleek contemporary design from Safdie Rabines Architects. “It’s a really wonderful site, with spectacular views of the ocean,” explains Taal Safdie; to complement that setting, the house has overlapping, flat-roofed forms that descend stepwise from the road. The entry is on the top level, where a wall of sliding glass merges indoor and outdoor areas into one cohesive whole. Living, dining, and kitchen areas are all encompassed in one open space that segues effortlessly onto an elevated deck which in turn covers a lower-level family room and the bedrooms. Illuminated by night, this vast expanse of glass makes the entire structure shimmer, its white walls accentuating the light, airy feel.

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That feel continues through many elements that seem suspended in midair, among them the kitchen (with its whimsical EAT wall sign). “We have the cabinets floating,” Safdie says, “so they don’t look like kitchen cabinets.” A pantry conceals appliances and provides sufficient storage space so that additional cabinets aren’t needed. The kitchen is the “heart” of many homes; it’s easy to imagine that here, with its 15-foot island, casual dining table and chairs, and deck lounging all within steps of one another. Open-air living is the order of the day here, even in living room and bedrooms; however, narrow windows and solid walls on the street side provide complete privacy, too. A combination of great views, easy living, and simple materials: that’s this Kafka house by Safdie Rabines.

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