An outwardly formal, yet inwardly open and expansive home design with plenty of natural light

Atherton Colonial

Many of the Bay Area’s nicest homes are located in the exclusive, small town of Atherton. Certainly, the large lots (generally 1 acre+) and high net-worth residents have a lot do with this, but in our experience, the creative freedom allotted by the local zoning ordinance is also a contributor to the town’s architectural quality.

Unlike nearly every other nearby jurisdiction, Atherton’s municipal code does not mandate design review for any new homes, provided they adhere to the town’s relatively complex zoning ordinance. This frees the design team to create the best possible building for their client within their budget, without fear of interference from neighbors, or the subjectivity that can come from a staff-level design review or planning commission.

In this case, our client came to us by way of referral from a neighbor in nearby Menlo Oaks who had also used our services. The program called for single level, family-friendly design with great light, high ceilings, and easy indoor-outdoor flow. The client’s request for a traditional style resulted in a carefully balanced yet informal design, where the stateliness of Colonial style columns is offset by playful asymmetry.

On large lots such as those seen in Atherton, designing the rear elevation is nearly as important as designing the street facing elevation. In our design, the relative formality of the front gives way to a looser composition at the rear, where large expanses of folding glass doors and windows bring the outside in at the great room, games room, and master suite. A generous outdoor covered patio features a fireplace and comfortable seating for as many as 20 guests.

Our client’s experience with the builder (David Wright Construction) was so smooth and positive, that after construction was complete she was hired on by Mr. Wright as a full-time project manager!



  • Scope of Work: Demo of existing house on developed site. New construction is a one story, 5 bedroom, 5.5 bath house of 4,531.8 s.f. living area, and 776.3 s.f. garage area. A future 1,199 s.f. accessory structure (poolhouse) will bring the floor area to 6,507.1 s.f.
  • Project Year: 2016
  • Project Cost: $1,500,001 – $2,000,000
  • Location: Atherton, CA


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