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Location: Hillsborough, California
When mortician Nicolas Daphne commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to build his dream home in a sleepy San Francisco suburb, there was only one problem: His wife. Ever since Frank Lloyd Wright had designed her husband's mortuary office, Virginia Daphne had become increasingly weary of the bullheaded architect. According to Virginia, "He was a charming gentlemen, stubborn as a mule, figured there were no other architects in the world except himself." Taking heed of his wife's advice, Nicholas Daphne chose architect Craig Ellwood instead. An entirely different kind of modernist, Craig Ellwood was the poster-boy for California's particular brand of laid-back minimalism, an internationally acclaimed architect, and a purveyor of Case Study Houses. Also, it didn't hurt that Virginia liked him.
Built in 1962, Daphne House is a nine-square Miesian pavilion hovering above a bed of black Mexican pebbles. Bookended by bodies of water, the entryway cantilevers over a reflecting pool, which mirrors the swimming pool on the other side of the kitchen. Inside, Daphne House features a snowy palette of white terrazzo floors, white wool carpets, and white Pentelic marble walls, while historic touches—a General Electric intercom still sits in the kitchen!—are everywhere. With exposed-steel beams and a stark rectilinear geometry, it's no surprise that the 6-bedroom, 4-bath Daphne House bears more than a passing resemblance to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House. In fact, Craig Ellwood was acclaimed for fusing California modernism with Mies' purity of form.
Do check out the listing photos from the previous owners.
Finally, Craig Ellwood's Daphne House in a 1963 issue of Arts and Architecture.