Friday 30 March 2012

Silicon Valley Modern Home Tour

Silicon valley has the perfect mix of innovation culture and cashed up nerds that should produce some really interesting houses. With that in mind, Em got us on the 'Silicon Valley Modern Homes Tour', at $30/person along with my parents, who have an obsession with real-estate and have been known to go to open houses while on holiday.

We started out with the impressive $5M-ish 11885 Francemont Dr. in the Los Altos Hills, which would be perfect for a party with your 200 closest friends who all want to stay the night and have their own bathroom.

After that strong start, most of the other houses were disappointing (we visited all 8). The worst was one that wasn't even built, apart from a guesthouse, and they seemed to be trying to use this 'tour' to drum up interest for the sale. I doubt that the set of people who would pay to look at fancy houses intersects much with the set of people who can afford to buy said houses.

Having said that, I liked the Los Altos place that had just featured in Dwell magazine where the owner-architect was answering questions and his wife was baking brownies, and some of the cute Eichler's in Palo Alto and Sunnyvale. But my hands-down favourite was a place on Quince Ave. in Sunnyvale, an extensively renovated Eichler, which was the microsoft smarthome winner in 2008, and was just genuinely beautiful and livable. I had a long chat to the owner, who was involved in all the minutiae of the design and construction, and he walked me through the controls for the lights, heating, sonos music, and streaming video from the touchscreen in the kitchen.

I think the idea of this tour is great, but it would do well to drop any houses where there isn't anyone with a passion for the design present to answer questions, and especially those that are just realtors trying to drum up interest. It's pretty intrusive having a bunch of people tramp through your house, so a big thanks to those people who opened up their homes.

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