Anyone who has viewed the renovation of Camino House by Lindsay Gerber Interiors will have the impression of worn clothing, having been loved for decades, fashioned into a lush piece of haute couture and impeccably fitted to the moving body that is its inhabitants. Everyday life.
Camino House: The Story
Designed in 1969 by a student of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Camino House has become one of Silicon Valley’s architectural landmarks. For more than 50 years, Goodwin Steinberg has helped transform an agricultural region known as the Valley of Heart’s Delight into the center of today’s technology world. Commissioned by the Pritzker family, of Hyatt empire fame, the 12,000-square-foot (1,115-square-meter) home is located in the heart of Atherton, California, one of America’s luxury zip codes. Yet it embodies quiet luxury, not spectacle. A modernist without the dogma, Steinberg could do both, but he preferred to design for mood rather than style, describing one of his projects in the same area as “a lullaby for a stressed person.”
The Camino was purchased just two years after completion by the current client’s father, who would continue to fill it with family, friends and much-loved items for the next 50 years. It maintains the hallmarks of Steinberg’s design: the low profile, informal grandeur, airy spaces with sunken rooms, wide window openings with perfect privacy, and almost brutalist stacked stone columns. It is characterized by simple geometric shapes, a restrained palette of straightforward materials and simple (usually functional) decoration. His son and daughter-in-law live there now with her mother and a lively little dog who needs cut carpets, rather than pile, which he can’t destroy. Together with their children and grandchildren, they form an open family that loves gathering and entertainment.
The four guest suites don’t stand still. However, to them, some details seemed outdated: 1960s wallpaper, shag rugs, faux plants. Gerber, who studied at the Academy of Art in San Francisco and Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London, and worked for Gensler before launching her own company in 2013, vetted Steinberg’s projects and worked closely with her client. With the help of local architect Eileen Gordon, she restored what seemed timeless, replaced what felt dated, and made revisions that would soften, soften, open up, brighten, and balance Steinberg’s design.
The building now honors the owners’ long-term dedication to the home while serving them with enhanced functionality and soft-spoken charm. Gerber’s team kept the massive stacked columns and larger bronze light fixtures, replacing thousands of small light bulbs over the course of weeks. They restored the book-matched walnut wall panels, which took 15 rounds of stain tests to achieve perfection. The original “cool” wallpaper is still present on some of the cabinets, and most of the cabinet hardware has been refinished. But they also moved walls and doors, and opened new windows. They took out the wall-to-wall shag carpeting for a finer wool, and replaced the brown glazed tiles with Biancone limestone in a stepped Versailles pattern that echoes the column construction.
The first symbolic change eased the way for later modifications: the client’s father—a Greek shoemaker turned American real estate mogul—had commissioned a room-filling model of the Parthenon made of stone imported from his birthplace and complete with small figures of the Parthenon. Shepherds. By the time the client inherited this perfectly preserved time capsule a few years ago, the model was still perched atop a rocky outcropping within the double-height foyer. The family found a new place for the temple, and replaced it with a Lalique crystal table. They moved the family’s heavy grandfather clock to create a space that houses Charlotte Perriand’s “Cansado” low chair, an Isamu Noguchi rice paper lamp and a Japanese painting that the client’s mother found during her travels. To purposefully decorate the new interiors, Gerber looked through a collection of family belongings in the attic to select the artwork and designs they collected. I found Greek record albums, crystal ashtrays, statues of ancient Olympians, Lalique objects, original furniture by Pierre Jeanneret, Frank Gehry, Rumler, and Jean Besnard, and antique lighting by Bergbaums and Niels Kahler.
Gerber’s entryway is a composition that balances contrasting qualities, announcing larger themes that now permeate the home: the renovation combines monumental volume with intimacy and provides a harmony of heavy, strong and angular with smooth, soft, lightweight and feathery. “We wanted to balance the house as if it were a character. “The architect and I were saying, ‘Do you think we can do X?’” Gerber recalls. It was always, “Well, we better check in with her” — “she” is home. The house had intentions. He usually won.
The former dining room has become a sumptuous, sunken lounge, tending to the shaggy charm it already had. Gerber added feather curtains and a deep-pile mohair rug. Experts restored the grid-shaped light that extends over a ceiling reupholstered in gold Casamance velvet.
In the former library, Gerber created an exhibition of the family’s Lalique collection. “I usually bathe one room in each home I design in black,” Gerber explains. “It’s an exciting, tense moment.” Here, black was the perfect way to display the glass.’ They gave the walnut cabinets a wood look and lined the niches with polished black Venetian plaster for an intimate cocktail-hour appeal. The powder room became another atmospheric space, with dark polished plaster walls, a polished black granite countertop, and a rare all-black Lalique tiger.
Elsewhere, the team brightened up the bathrooms and made them feel like a spa, reconfiguring the living spaces, lighting and unobstructed views. A narrow series of galley kitchens were opened up, while the dining room was moved into an adjacent light-filled space accessed through a butler’s pantry. The most massive piece Gerber added is a 12-foot-long custom dining table, crafted by Cooritalia from two solid blocks of Navona limestone and weighing more than a ton. However, on this bold scale, it still feels supple and velvety. “The power of the house needs to be tempered,” says Gerber. “Our homes become a reflection of us. The client’s father, strong-willed and determined, became the home, and the home became him. I treated it as, ‘Let me honor you.’ Let me relieve you.”
This article appears in December 2023 Wallpaper Entertainment Issue*available in print on the Wallpaper* app on Apple iOS, and to Apple News+ subscribers. Subscribe to wallpaper* today!