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A beautiful residential community in Silicon Valley’s Southern stretch, Los Altos has been consistently ranked as one of the most exclusive cities in the U.S. By limiting commercial establishments to the downtown area and select locations along Foothill Expressway and El Camino Real, Los Altos has become a perfect city for people who want a hint of the busy city life alongside a relaxed and cozy home atmosphere. As a popular residential area, Los Altos has its share of beautiful homes crafted by the talented architects included on this list.
The oldest firm on this list has been around for 54 years while the youngest has been around for a decade. Regardless of their age, these firms have crafted homes that are not only beautiful but functional. Some have been designed to incorporate eco-friendly materials using sustainable techniques. With such unique designs that cater to Los Altos’ spectacular views, a number of these homes have been featured in well-known industry magazines including Dwell, Architectural Digest, Gentry, Luxe, and California Home + Design.
This list includes both licensed architects and residential designers who can both design stunning homes but differ in other services offered. Architects are trained in design, engineering, and project management and have passed a licensing exam. Residential designers typically don’t manage projects and plans will need to be approved by a structural engineer. Whether you choose to hire an architect or a residential designer will depend on your project needs and complexity.
360 Design Studio
1491 Ben Roe Dr., Los Altos, CA 94024
Founded in 2004, 360 Design Studio is known for crafting homes in San Jose, Sunnyvale, San Carlos, Saratoga, Belmont, Redwood, and Los Altos. The firm has crafted homes in the ranch, modern, and Craftsman styles. Though the firm was only recently established, it has already been featured in Dwell, San Jose Mercury News, Palo Alto Home Weekly, and Home + Garden Design Magazine.
360 Design Studio is currently managed by Bahi Oreizy. Before the firm, Oreizy graduated from the University of Houston in Texas with a B.A. and an M.A. in architecture. She traveled throughout Europe and the Middle East before beginning a professional career overseas where she participated in national competitions and cultural projects. She joined companies where she had the chance to become a project designer for retail and hospitality projects from world-renowned clients.
Alfonso and Harmon
885 N. San Antonio Rd., Ste. B, Los Altos, CA 94022
Established in 1992 by Francisco Alfonso and Richard Harmon, Alfonso and Harmon specialize in new and remodeled custom design residences throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. The firm is known to specialize in a broad scope of residential and commercial projects. In the residential market, one of its most notable works is a mid-century home in Los Altos. At 4,565 square feet, this project consisted of an addition and a whole house remodel, including the addition of a new contemporary wing that reshaped the aesthetic of the house.
Along with the addition that highlights a pivoting steel door and contemporary staircase, the existing home now includes an expanded dining room. That includes a dramatic wine storage and display, a new kitchen, and an improved living room space where numerous sliding glass doors give a better view of nearby Adobe Creek.
Allen Nikitin Architect, Inc.
236 North Santa Cruz Ave., #205, Los Gatos, CA 95030
Established in 1983, Allen Nikitin Architect, Inc. is experienced in doing complete residential custom home and remodeling design work. Usually the homes it designs are recognized for their emphasis on function and light. One home that showcases this combination is a two-story Spanish style home with traditional interiors. The home provides panoramic views from wide windows and a long balcony that overlooks the hills. Aside from this Spanish home, the firm’s portfolio also contains homes in the Mediterranean, ranch, and Craftsman styles.
The firm currently has Allen Nikitin as its principal. Nikitin began his career honing his skills by working for architectural firms in southern California where he gained experience designing and drafting for various residential and commercial projects. Over the years of his career, Nikitin has been able to create—and maintain— lasting relationships with a number of highly skilled engineers and contractors.
478 Monterey Rd., Pacifica, CA 94044
Established in 1992, Beausoleil Architects is a San Francisco Certified Green Business with a team of Certified Green Building Professionals. With its team and a work ethic that focuses more on green building practices, Beausoleil Architects also has a Green Point Rater with Built it Green. Currently, the firm is known to be working with Passive House Institute and the California Net Zero Energy to design some of the Bay Area’s most sustainable homes. Over the years, the firm has crafted many houses in various styles including the Mediterranean, traditional, French, farmhouse, modern, Tuscan, Craftsman, New England, Italianate, and Hampton styles.
It’s current and most notable project is the Bole Residence in Pacifica. A modern residence doubling as an office, it was designed for the company owners, Christine and Robert Boles. This Zero Net Energy home was built as a high performance, highly insulated and air sealed house that approaches Passive House standards. Aside from it being an eco-friendly home, it was also designed for aging in place and provides irrigation to the landscape by diverting water from the sinks, showers, and laundry. Rainwater is also stored and captured for use in a vegetable garden.
Beausoleil Architects is currently managed by Christine and Robert Boles. Christine completed her studies at MIT but she is most known for her skill in project management, design, and space planning. Robert received architectural training at the University of California at Berkeley and California Polytechnic State University where he learned about construction types, building methods, and historical styles.
19969 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino, CA 95014
Established in 2009 by Revital Kaufman Meron and Susan Bowen, Bekom Design has completed projects in Los Altos, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, San Mateo, Woodside, and Portola Valley. The firm is known for its skill when it comes to large additions, remodels, new construction, and hardscape design for both commercial and residential markets. When it comes to residential homes, one of its most notable works is a modern two-story home in Los Altos Hills. A residence with a minimalist design and pleasing colors combined with the use of concrete and wood, it has a wide, open floor plan with numerous windows and glass doors that provide sweeping views of Los Altos’ beautiful hills.
Homes like these were crafted with the combined experience of Revital Kaufman Meron and Susan Bowen. Meron is a magna cum laude graduate from Tel Aviv University, and she currently serves as the firm’s CEO. During her four years in Boston, Meron specialized in residential design from high-end single-family homes and vacation homes to high-rise and mixed-use projects. Bowen, meanwhile, is a graduate from The Catholic University of Guayaquil. She has extensive experience in multifamily residential design, Interior, and high-end single family homes.
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
49 Geary St. Ste. #300, San Francisco, CA 94108
From massive academic, public, and commercial buildings to modest custom homes, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson is known for its elegant, humane designs. Apart from being aesthetically pleasing homes, these residential projects are also energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. These works have been featured in Detail, Ocean Home, Architectural Record, Dwell, The New York Times, and Business Insider. Since its establishment in 1965, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson has won more than 675 regional, national, and international design awards. Recently, the firm received two 2018 AIA National Residential Awards. The firm is also a recipient of the AIA Architecture Firm—the most prestigious honor bestowed upon an architectural practice.
© Nic Lehoux, courtesy of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
The firm has many notable works, but one of its best residential projects is a residence in Los Altos. Designed to be
a modernist reinterpretation of the Northern California ranch style home the client wanted, it exudes elegant serenity thanks to the crowd of trees surrounding the exterior and the open floorplan that welcomes the outdoors into the interior. Along with numerous windows and doors that fill the interior with natural light, the home is also constructed of various types of wood visible throughout. That natural variety gives the home a sense of warmth that contrasts against the exposed structural steel, polished concrete floors, and textured concrete fireplace.
Design of the Los Altos Residence was led by Greg Mottola, Principal in the firm’s San Francisco office. Greg possesses a deep understanding of how buildings can shape and transform their environment. He is keenly interested in the tectonics of building and how Modernism is shaped by the specific circumstances of place to create memorable, emotionally powerful architecture. Bohlin Cywinski Jackson is a network of studios across the country united by a singular purpose – to design buildings that inspire connection and wonder in every person who experiences them.
101 Main St., Los Altos, CA 94022
A firm that is known for providing its clients with timeless designs, exceptional customer service, and long term relationships with its clients, Brownhouse Design has designed various homes for clients in San Francisco, Atherton, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills. One great example of the firm’s works is a European style home that exemplifies Brownhouse Design’s stylish use of dark stone. It stands out against a clear bright day, highlighting the residence’s subtle elegance.
Currently, Brownhouse Design is managed by principal designer Julie Brown. She continues to guide the firm into creating spaces that mirror the client’s lifestyles and personalities. Brown’s expertise has helped the firm craft homes in the transitional, French Country, contemporary, ranch, urban, and traditional styles.
Cass Calder Smith Architecture + Interiors
44 Mclea Ct., San Francisco, CA 94103
Established in 1990, Cass Cakder Smith has designed numerous modern houses located in Los Altos, Sonoma, Palo Alto, Belvedere, San Francisco, and even New York. The firm is also well-known and internationally praised for the architectural and commercial success of restaurants and other commercial spaces they have designed.
The Los Altos Hills residence is a great example of the firm’s abilities. A modern, 6,000 square foot residence crafted for a family of five, it has two breezeways that separate the home into three parts. The compound also has contemporary elements that highlight the well-defined outdoor spaces, spaces that stay comfortable even during the hottest summer days. Aside from the design that plays well with the California sun, the home has also been crafted with sustainable building methods, materials, and energy systems.
Not surprisingly, the firm has collected numerous awards. Just some of its most recent honors are the Collaboration of Design + Art (COD)’s 2017 CODAwards Residential Merit award and Residential Architect’s 2017 best in Living Awards. The firm was also featured in Architectural Digest, San Francisco Chronicle, Interior Designs, and Dwell.
Gordon + Greineder
2325 Third St. Ste. #318, San Francisco, CA 94107
A firm that has been featured in Luxe, Gentry, Luxury Home, California Home + Design, and Extraordinary Homes California, Gordon + Greinder has a reputation for attention to detail. The firm’s craftsmanship is visible in its inventive, highly creative residential designs. One notable project that shows off the firm’s capabilities is the Creekside residence in Los Altos. A French chateau studded with traditional details and double-height spaces, this residence is wrapped by serenity and shrouded in privacy thanks to the crowds of redwood and heritage oaks surrounding the property. The firm has won the 2014 Inaugural Julia Morgan Award, the BUILD 2017 Architecture award, and the Society of American Registered Architects’ 2018 Design Award.
Gordon + Greineder is now celebrating 15 years under the leadership of architect Eileen Gordon and designer William Greineder.
KNR Design Studio
681 Driscoll Ct., Palo Alto, CA 94306
KNR Design Studio is most recognized for aesthetically pleasing, unique, functional homes. Over the years, it has designed homes in modern, farmhouse, ranch, contemporary, and traditional designs. One great example of the firm’s works is a Traditional new home in Los Altos. A grand and welcoming ranch house property with a full basement, its overall architecture highlights a clean, classic look that is finished with natural materials and accents on fine details. The full-sized, 10-foot tall basement meanwhile points out the firm’s eco-friendly practices. It uses passive heating and cooling from geothermal mass, while the staircase acts as a chimney that draws up cool air up into the main portion of the house.
Homes like these have been managed by Principal Designer Kendra Rosenberg who is a USGBC accredited member and Associate AIA member. Rosenberg has a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Southern California where she earned multiple awards. For over 12 years, Rosenberg has designed luxury hotels, high-end residences, and modern and traditional houses.
Louie Leu Architects
236 North Santa Cruz Ave. Ste. #210, Los Gatos, CA 95030
A company that has completed commercial, public, and residential projects, Louie Leu Architects is a certified green builder and member of the AIA. Since its establishment, it has been known for creating projects that are not only beautiful but sustainable: the firm incorporates green building products and employs sustainable design. Over time, the firm has crafted numerous projects in Silicon Valley, Cupertino, Saratoga, Atherton, and Los Altos. Some of these residences have also been featured in publications like Interni Magazine, Gentry, Dwell, San Jose Magazine, California Home + Design, and Milano Design Weekly.
Among Louie Leu Architects’ notable projects is the Los Altos Hawaiian Villa pictured below. A two-story residence that highlights a style that’s perfect for tropical locations and embraces the outdoors, it has retractable sliding pocket doors along the entire rear of the house. To further highlight its style, the home was crafted with exotic woods and textures to encourage warmth and comfort. Homes like these are created by the company’s president and lead designer, Louie Leu. A California registered architect, Leu is affiliated with the AIA, is a certified Feng Shui-friendly designer, and is a certified green building professional.
Mattingly Thaler Architects
San Francisco, CA 94114
Established in 1988, Mattingly Thaler Architects is an architectural, planning, and interior design firm that has crafted homes in the contemporary classic, English country, and Mediterranean styles. These homes are known for making use of green building products and sustainable design aspects. The firm’s methods and results have gained the firm features in Interior Design, San Francisco Chronicle, Palo Alto Weekly, and Extraordinary Homes California.
The firm is managed by founding partner Judith Mattingly who has worked as a project planner in charge of a wide variety of projects. These include high-end residentials in the San Francisco Bay area and restaurant and commercial interiors in New York and Florida. Aside from crafting projects in a variety of locations, some of Mattingly’s projects have also been recognized in national design competitions.
M Design Architects
4131 El Camino Real, Ste. #200, Palo Alto, CA 94306
With more than 45 years of experience in all aspects of designing, documentation, and construction support, M Design Architects has been recognized for its architecture, planning, and interior design in international markets. One great example of the firm’s residential work is the Ruth residence in Los Altos Hills. A modern, three-story home photographed by Scot DuBose for M Design Architects, the Ruth residence has many notable features that highlight the open floor plan centered on provided views of the California landscape. The firm has been recognized by features in Punch Magazine and SF Chronicle and has been honored with the 2019 World Architecture and Design Awards.
M Design Architects is currently managed by Chip Jessup and Malika Junaid. Jessup has 30 years of architectural and construction experience in the commercial, industrial, and residential markets. During his career, Jessup was able to become familiar with both the construction environment and the relationship of work trades as he has worked as a laborer, carpenter, and construction supervisor. Junaid, meanwhile, has won several architecture awards for her work. These awards include the META Remodeling Awards from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), the 2018 Architecture Master Prize, and the Environmental Quality Award from the city of Menlo Park. With these recognitions to her credit, Junaid has had the opportunity to craft designs for executives from Apple, Google, Box, Facebook, and Whatsapp.
Tobin Dougherty Architects
914 Industrial Ave Palo Alto, California 94301
Tobin Dougherty Architects is best known for its focus on maintaining environmental integrity. The firm has done passive and active solar homes that have served as examples of residences that use local, natural, and recycled building materials, in addition to its beautiful designs. In effect, several magazines including Silicon Valley, Beautiful New Homes, Sunset Magazine, and Home and Garden have picked up and featured Tobin’s works. Tobin T. Dougherty, an AIA registered architect with over 35 years of hands-on expertise, is the head of the firm and is mainly responsible for its designs. Soon after years of practicing his trade, Dougherty began mentoring several other architects-in-training.
Currently, Dougherty is most recognized for his work on several offices, stores, and custom homes that exhibit dramatic contemporary designs. These works are highlighted by resonant spaces, clean lines, and structures that smoothly link the interior and exterior. Its most notable project is Hill View Home in Los Altos, a sustainably designed suburban residence. It has a modernist aesthetic take on structure, its large windows, sliding glass doors, and open spaces frame nature well.
Young and Borlik
4962 El Camino Real, Ste. #218, Los Altos, CA 94022
A full-service architectural firm, Young and Borlik has been around for 31 years and has built up experience in design and remodeling that includes minor updates to existing homes and the creation of large estate properties. These many years of experience have helped the firm become more experienced in permits, variances, architectural reviews, and public hearings. Among its many residential projects, the firm’s most notable might be a transitional style home in Atherton. A residence featured in SF Gate, the residence combines traditional massing with a clean contemporary interior and an open floor plan with striking details. Though there are various features to note, the master suite—its most notable room—features a cathedral ceiling and sliding glass doors that open into a private patio that overlooks an expansive backyard complete with a pool.
Young and Borlik designed these gorgeous homes with Andrew Young and Steve Borlik at the helm. Young, a co-founder, now serves as principal. He has been in the architecture industry since 1987 when he first designed a new home in Redwood Hills. Borlik now serves as the president and co-founder. He is known for his problem-solving and refined detailing for custom residential projects.
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