3 Ways to Achieve a Timeless Modern Design

How you can blend contemporary design and personal touches for a one-of-a-kind home

Who: Anat Shmariahu of ANAV-DESIGN

Where: Los Altos, California

In her own words: “Even modern homes can have traditional touches.


Modern home design focuses on clean lines and purposeful details to achieve a look that is up-to-date without being trendy. Anat Shmariahu takes that a step further, customizing each home she designs to a family’s unique background and lifestyle. “We take a holistic approach to design,” she says.

Family ties. Shmariahu grew up surrounded by relatives who were civil engineers. “It was always a part of my life,” she says. In her case, it led to a bachelor degree at the faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion, Haifa, Israel, following two years of studying Architectural Design studying at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. Shmariahu worked as an architect in Israel until 2002, when she and her family relocated to California and she established ANAV-DESIGN Studio.

People-based design. Shmariahu believes the human element rather than the structure should drive every design. “It should be comfortable, welcoming and family-oriented,” she says. “You should be able to see how the kids can be playing in the space.”


To achieve that result, Shmariahu works with clients to explore their background and culture and what they want to be part of the house. “The design should be based on what they need and how they live their lives,” she says. 


Interested in how to get a clean and timeless contemporary design that reflects your life? Shmariahu has some tips, below.

1. Play Up Your Design


Rethink the design of your home to match your personal aesthetic and culture. “I designed the exterior and interior remodel of this Cupertino house to incorporate modern and Japanese design to fit the culture of my client,” Shmariahu says. 


The former ranch-style home was fully converted, and now boasts a modern design with an open layout that brings more light inside. Wood accents highlight the entry and the nearby bay window and also disguise a service area along the driveway. “Wood is part of the culture in Japan so I wanted to include it,” Shmariahu says. She also repeated the horizontal lines of the wood siding material in the adjacent concrete to provide continuity between the materials. 

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2. Maximize Your Floor Plan


Make the most of your interior and exterior spaces by eliminating wasted space, adding versatility in few spaces and connecting the house to your yard. “Maximize the of use every part of your house,” Shmariahu says. 


A Los Altos homeowner asked Shmariahu for a complete remodel of his existing home. “The lot is narrow, with protected trees. It was a challenging design effort to practically make a completely new home and yet keep it for the city as a remodeling project. We went with that,” she says. One side of the home houses the four bedrooms and the bath. The other side, with the living room, kitchen and dining area, is open from the front to the back yard. “I used repeating skylights and light fixtures along the ceiling with folding doors at the back to draw you through the space,” she says. Shmariahu also eliminated all inside hallways to provide as much space as possible within the rooms. 

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3. Raise the Walls using Butterfly Roof


Add light and volume to a room to create a sense of spaciousness. “I used a butterfly roof design — taller at the edges and sloping down to the center — to open up both sides of this new Saratoga home,” Shmariahu says.


The wide lot lent itself to a horizontal design. The wall at the front of the house adds height to the family room and entry. At the back of the lot, a matching wall spans the kitchen and great room and opens into the backyard. All of the public spaces include full-size glass doors and windows along with clerestory windows. “They help capture the light”, Shmariahu says. Lower ceilings in the private rooms of the house provide a needed sense of enclosure. 

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