The Annual Bay Area Modern Architecture Tour is BACK. And thanks to technology, its borders have expanded to include wine country—and this gem that’s designed to maximize shade and natural circulation on toasty days.

Klopf Architecture in Sacramento designed this single-story modern house with intense summer heat in mind, building a patio under the shade of a mature oak with a large overhang.
Mariko Reed
Klopf Architecture in Sacramento designed this single-story modern house with summer temperatures in mind, building a patio with a large overhang under the shade of a mature oak.

A couple of new habits and trends that have developed during lockdown are likely here to stay. One is our willingness to do things online that we may have never considered before—like take virtual tours. And our fixation on turning our homes into high-functioning havens for work and play doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon. These two ideas collide in the Bay Area Modern Architecture tour this Saturday, June 26th, organized by the Modern Architecture + Design Society, an organization that plans these events in neighborhoods across the country, in places like Austin and Seattle. The best part is that if you miss the livestream this Saturday, it’ll be available for viewing online, at your leisure. There’s a $5 discount on the ticket price for Sunset readers, too. (See—technology isn’t so bad.)

Another bonus for this year’s digital tour: Because travel time and distance is not a factor, homes are scattered from Sonoma to Sacramento. Prominent architects like Gustave Carlson, Andrew Morrall, Timeline Design + Build, DNM Architecture, Feldman Architecture, and Klopf Architecture have opened up some of their favorite properties to real estate voyeurs and design buffs. And they’re all packed with great ideas for living in the West.

back patio modern house Klopf Architecture Sacramento
The roofline of this clean-lined house is sloped, increasing in height from the front of the house to the rear. This way, they have more privacy and a less imposing facade for the neighbors and taller windows in the back to let in light and views of the natural surroundings.

Mariko Reed

Klopf built this modern Sacramento ranch house for a chef and a television producer, empty nesters who plan to stay in the house through their retirement. The priority was to create an easy-living house with a connection to the outdoors. It’s sited on a large plot in a semi-rural area surrounded by an open field, large oak trees, and a seasonal creek.

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The Klopf Architecture team designed a wide plan for the house that allows the main living space, bathrooms, and master bedroom to open up to the landscape at the rear of the house, with sliding doors for direct access. It was important for the house to sit lightly and keep a relatively low profile out of respect for neighboring houses and the natural feel (i.e., low-impact landscaping) of the area. They sloped the roof to be at its lowest in the front and open up to the rear, intended to create a humbler appearance from the front and open up the back view with larger windows.

open concept living room Sacramento modern house Klopf Architecture
From this angle in the open-concept living room, the sloping roof line is clear. Polished concrete floors are cool underfoot, and large sliding doors can be opened for better circulation.

Mariko Reed

The plan was also focused on using energy, namely air conditioning, efficiently. In the morning when the sun is low and direct in the front of the house, the residents open their rear sliding glass doors or live outside on the rear decks. In the middle of the day when the sun moves overhead from the south, the extra deep overhangs and shading devices keep the rear patios comfortable. At the end of the day, when the sun is blasting the rear of the house, the front patio is in shade, but still bright because of openings in the roof. In-wall insulation and a continuous layer of rigid insulation was applied to the exterior walls of the house to lower the heat gain from the sun.

front patio modern house Sacramento Klopf Architecture composite siding
With the intense Sacramento Valley heat in mind, Klopf chose a durable composite siding material (instead of wood) that’s designed to take a beating from the sun. A low, white stucco wall obscures the view inside the house from the street but doesn’t interrupt the breeze as it travels in through the open doors and out the back of the house.

Mariko Reed

A “cool roof” metal roof was used to reflect much of the direct sun and heat before it can heat up the house. The windows are all thermally broken aluminum. In addition to these defensive strategies, the Klopf Architecture team specified high efficiency heating and cooling units. Composite siding from Tru-Grain, made with recycled materials, maintains the look of wood and lasts longer than wood could in the intense Sacramento sun. Smooth white stucco is a visible separation of the main living area from the exterior.

The main living space has an exposed concrete floor with composite granite counters and white oak cabinets. The bedroom wing uses reclaimed white oak flooring from Blackwood Farm to create a more restful, quiet feeling.

living room Sacramento modern house Klopf Architecture
Designed for a retired couple with grown children, the house is on a single level, with smooth, flat floors, easily maintained furniture, wide walkways, and zero-threshold doors for easier living as they age.

Mariko Reed

“People often ask about challenges during demolition and construction. The house project started as an option between tearing down and replacing the existing home and renovating it. The owners originally decided on a renovation, but during construction Sean van Gelder, the builder, discovered that the slab and foundation were too damaged to keep. At that point everyone shifted gears and turned the project into a new house design,” says John Klopf, Principal Architect. Once it was finished, there were no regrets.

A 2021 Season Pass is also available that grants access to all virtual tours in 2021 and includes a ticket to pass holders once live events resume. For more information on the 2021 Virtual Modern Home Tour Season Pass and to see the current schedule of 2021 tours, check out the MADS site.