Sierra Nevada Mountains / foothills /house
in Nevada City /
keywords: custom house, passive
solar, Ken Meffan architectbuilder, natural architect, wood house
This custom house in Northern
California over-viewing a lake is a natural architect solution to a
amazing view site. On site tree that had to be removed were milled
on site to make the rough sawn lumber to build this timber framed,
wood house. Structure was emphasized throughout this natural house.
Large custom sliding doors
built by the architect allow this house to open up to the outside
environment allowing better flow and outside, patio living
Hydronic heating installed in
acid stained concrete floors are used through out the ground level.
The Grass Valley Union
“There are not too many houses
like this in this area. Not too many clients will let me go that
The living room of the Sky Pines
Ridge Road home of Jonathan and Margot Goldsmith that was designed
and constructed by custom-home builder Ken Meffan of Rough and
The Goldsmiths’ living room is as
close to being inside the cover of Sunset Magazine as you can get.
A two-story-high wall of glass,
punctuated with honey-colored wood panes, allows a view of forest
and lake worthy of a tourist brochure.
“It’s fabulous,” said Margot
Goldsmith, who with her husband, Jonathan, owns the house, located
north of Nevada City. “The openness brings the outdoors in.”
The windows also let the sunlight
in, making the house “passive solar,” its designer Ken Meffan of
Rough & Ready, said.
Meffan designed and built the house
off Highway 20 to make the most of its crest view of Scotts Flat
Lake. Meffan designs houses to be “environmentally conscious,” and
to make the most of sunlight.
Beyond the wall of windows is the
support structure for the roof, exposed wooden beams and iron cross
“I try to emphasize the structure,
not hide it,” Meffan said about the crosshatching of wood beams in
interior walls and the ceiling.
The support structure roof allows in
the most sunlight from the winter angle of the sun and offers the
most protection from the summer sun, Meffan said.
The sun hits the acid-stained
concrete floor --- colored rust, copper and a green courtesy of
Miracle-Gro --- in winter, creating additional heat.
Meffan, who moved to Nevada County
13 years ago, has built several houses characterized by cathedral
ceilings with exposed wooden support beams.
Meffan noted Nevada County has its
fair share of “Roseville knock-offs,” conventional houses that are
“the same old boxy type of architecture.”
“People are used to what they see,”
Meffan’s background is in building
“high-end structures” in Malibu and plenty of conventionally
designed houses in the area “to feed the tribe,” he said, referring
to supporting his family.
When he moved to Scottsdale, Ariz.,
he became convinced people would build and buy houses that fit
within the landscape and which reflected “indigenous architecture.”
In Nevada County, that would mean old mining buildings with metal
roofs and rough exposed timbers.
“There are not too many houses like
this in this area,” Meffan said in an unintentional understatement.
“Not too many clients will let me go that rustic.”
“I think he has a God-given talent,”
said Sue Meffan, his wife of 15 years, who has worked on houses the
couple ended up living in.
People who live in his houses seem
Susan Neebs says living in a house
Meffan designed is “like living in a tree
“This is more open, more artistic,”
Neebs said about her Willow Valley Road home with a wall of windows
looking into a forest.
Meffan estimates houses of his
favorite type of design costs $176 per square foot to build compared
to $140 to $150 per square foot for a more conventional design. He
uses common materials, like wood and concrete, instead of exotic
materials, like slate or marble, which keep costs down.
thinks it’s a shame that so much wood ends up covered in drywall,
“the crummiest material you can buy.”
All the lumber for the house was
milled on the site, and Margot Goldsmith watched the construction
from a trailer also on the site, “which is not necessarily a good
“I’d come out and say ‘Move it a
little to the left,’” Goldsmith recalled.
The Goldsmiths moved into their
finished home in April. Jonathan’s career as an actor ---check out
the new “Dragnet” series, as well as old “Gunsmoke” and “Rockford
Files” episodes ---takes him to Los Angeles frequently.