Copyright 2007-2018: Justin Wood
Donations always welcome! I run this site with my own funds and my own time, both of which are in rare supply. If you find this site useful or entertaining, please consider a small donation to help keep it up and running. Thanks - Justin
Cottrell House : 1964
Stanley Ave, Carmichael, CA
2005 remodel by Applied Architecture
Referred to as the Roberts Residence
+ confirmed via DS reference material
The Sacramento Union
Sunday, Sept 11, 1966
A View With a House
by Peter J. Hayes
“What I wanted was lots of redwood, lots of stone and lots of glass -- and something to take advantage of the marvelous view.”
Thus did Mrs. Richard F. Cottrell approach the realization of a long-cherished ambition to build her own home.
That she succeeded is readily seen in the house designed by architect Carter Sparks and built by general contractor Fernando Marsalla (ed. deceased 12/2009) on a 65-foot bluff overlooking the American River in Carmichael.
The site commands a panoramic view of the northeast countryside, and Jean Cottrell’s husband, a top executive at Aerojet General Corp., can see and hear test firings at the big rocket center.
But approaching the home on rural Stanley Avenue, the visitor is completely unprepared for the scope of the Cottrell home. Dense shrubbery hides the river and the front of the house is dominated by an inward sloping fascia, or roof place, giving what Sparks calls “an introverted look.”
However, once inside the entryway, the ceiling soars upward and outward to floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the river.
Everywhere are signs that Mrs. Cottrell got her three wishes on building materials.
Most of the exterior and interior walls are of rough-sawn redwood planks of plywood.
Walls around the entry and on one side of the living room are of massive granite field stone.
And floor to ceiling windows feature outer walls of the living room, dining room and bedrooms. Even the full length window at the foot of the sunken tub in the bath of the master bedroom suite is undraped, looking out on a fish pond and massed shrubbery.
About half of the living room is sunken, focusing on the corner fireplace. Daylight and moonlight filter through a hooded skylight 13 feet above the fireplace. Lights on the roof augment the natural light here.
“The many windows let the house ‘live’ a little, depending on the changing light outside,” Sparks said.
The sunken area includes a bright red carpet with matching built in sofa on two sides. The area is framed by low-hanging wooden lamps, designed and hand-carved by Gunnar Lindh, adding a slightly Gothic note.
Bisecting the living room is a 100-foot long ridge beam, extending through the rest of the square-shaped, two-level house. Builders used a crane to bring it the last two blocks to the site, negotiating turns by lifting is high over surrounding trees.
The rest of the second floor consists of kitchen, pantry, utility room, master bedroom site - which includes a study - and a bedroom. Three of the four Cottrell children live at home.
The lower level includes two more bedrooms and a vast recreation room with a 17-foot bar.
The home has about 4,000 square feet, including 600 square feet of storage in the lower area. Decks on two sides add another 300 square feet.
The house was completed 15 months ago on the two-acre site of a home that burned down. Most of the landscaping was preserved, giving the home the appearance of having been there much longer than it has.
Mrs. Cottrell said she and her family used to live a few blocks away and she would occasionally drive around looking for sites on which to build. Her daughter was a friend of a girl who had lived in the previous house on this site.
“I always wanted to live by the river,” she said. “I thought this was a marvelous site, but never felt it would be available to build the kind of house I wanted.
Sparks is a member of the contemporary school of architecture, using natural materials and providing a feeling of openness wherever possible.
“But I like to use the best of everything we know,” he said. “If it was good once, it is good now. You don’t just cast aside anything that is good just because it is old.”
Hence, the hand-carved lamps from out of the past and the ultra-modern laminated plywood interior walls.
“It’s a fun house to live in,” Mrs. Cottrell said. “The view is beautiful during the day and at night with all the lights. We love it.”