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Sahlein House

Sahlein House
Building Location 3092 East Birdsong Drive
Boise, Idaho 83712
Warm Springs/East End Neighborhood
Ada County
Building Status Private
Year Built
Architectural Style Frank Lloyd Wright/Asian
Architect
Type
Material

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3092 East Birdsong Drive is a unique house in a neighborhood filled with various extravagant forms of fantastic architecture. It stands out even from downtown Boise when looking up to the Bench near Table Rock. The House features a combination of Frank Lloyd Wright and Asian Architectural styles, and has a very modern appearance to the outside of the house. The house stands out in this neighborhood mainly because of its bright, primary colors (Red and Yellow), as opposed to the neighborhood standard of white, black, or various shades of gray and brown. While the Home Owners Association certainly took issue with the Sahlein’s decision to be vibrant and interesting, the Sahleins were already on top of this issue. The rules stated that the house had to blend in, and near sunset and sundown the colors of the field blend perfectly with the Red and Yellow Shades of the house, creating a beautiful effect of the blending of the house and the nature around it. One of the main themes of this house is bringing the outside in and the inside out. The House features three balconies and over 100 windows, and in any part of the interior of the building a resident has a wonderful view of the surrounding nature. Different trees, bushes, flowers, and large boulders surround the house, which creates a very naturalistic aura around the outside of the house. I was unsure of when the porch ended and when the back yard began. The house also has a curious phenomenon where it looks much bigger from the outside than it is on the inside. This is a result of several corners and added texture to the outside, which creates an illusion of the house being almost twice its size. (Although I assure you, it is still a large house.) Nonetheless, the house has only a few major materials that make it up. It features stucco outside walls, metal rails and rain chains, and tile roofs, which suggests a Spanish Eclectic style along with the many other styles going into the structure of this house. This house also features many quirky features on the outside. The first one that a passerby would notice is the giant metal sun just above the front porch. The Sahleins saw a sun like this in Mexico at a market that they couldn’t manage to ship, but then sprang for the opportunity to buy one just like it at the Saturday Market here in Boise. This sun ties the colors of the house together perfectly, reinforcing the idea that the houses colors can be compared to a sunset. Another interesting feature of the house is the Lizard engraved into the driveway. The story behind this is that when the Sahleins first bought the plot of land, Mr. Sahlein saw a Father and two daughters laying facedown on one of the boulders on his property. Being curious what they were up to, Mr. Sahlein asked. The odd group was looking for lizards, so they could lick them, and then get high. And the lizard pattern in the driveway was born. This house has several interesting stories about it, including the story of how it was built. 3092 East Birdsong was built 10 years ago when Mrs. Sahlein and the Architect Russell Coburn designed the house. Interestingly enough, the blueprints for the house were not followed exactly, but by the time the mistake was realized, it was much too late to fix. The house is still sturdy, and turned out fantastic, but it isn’t exactly the way it was supposed to be built. Many of the ideas for the house come from Mrs. Sahlein herself, including the bringing the outside in and the inside out, and the colors for the house. In our interview, she told me that she took a piece of grass, and a piece of rock from the field by the house and realized that the red and yellow would go together perfectly with the field behind her house. Shauna also stated that the construction of the house was amazing to her because it was really something to see her ideas turn into something concrete and real, that she had helped design. The interior of the house also shows the unique personal tastes of the Sahleins. Their offices, rooms, and kitchens all hold extremely diverse knickknacks that would interest almost anyone. My personal favorite was the large chicken statue in the kitchen, which can be seen above. Another interesting characteristic of the Sahlein House is the dumbwaiters. While this is a common feature of many old homes, seeing as 3092 Birdsong was only built ten years ago, it is interesting that they included dumbwaiters in the design. Like many Usonian style houses (Frank Lloyd Wright style houses were called this), this house encourages gathering of the family in certain areas of the house, which usually have a fireplace. I counted two fireplaces in the Sahlein House, and the rooms with the fireplaces all had high ceilings, whereas hallways and private rooms have slightly, if not substantially lower ceilings, almost drawing occupants into the family and dining areas. Another aspect that I consider quite fascinating is that the kitchen is located on the second floor. This is not a common feature in most houses in this area, but it again adds to the extreme uniqueness of this home.

Building submitted by Jack Kingsley & Michaela Kuskie

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