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251 Al Fresco Way

251 Al Fresco Way
Building Location 251 Al Fresco Way
Boise, Idaho 83712
Warm Springs/East End Neighborhood
Ada County
Building Status Private
Year Built
Architectural Style English Mediterranean
Architect
Type
Material

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This house, built in 2001, was modeled after an English Mediterranean style. Before this subdivision was built, one family owned all this land area. They started the terra Nativa Vineyard, which, till this day, is still a focal point of this neighborhood. All the houses have windows facing, our out door areas that point towards the vineyard. The original house for the family owners was designed in a Mediterranean way, and therefore, after they decided to subdivide the property into individual lots, the criteria for future home built was that they must incorporate a similar style. This house, unlike others, has a unique focus. The architect wanted the whole house to be focused on the courtyard, resulting in grand double doors and large windows that open the house up to a secluded area. Most houses place the front door in an easily visible location, almost as a focal point of the house. This architect however, wanted those who visited to have an “experience” before they got to the door; to get a feel for the house. The door is at the end of a curved walkway that lies under a wooden trellis. The walkway goes through the courtyard before arriving at a large wooden front door. Being on a corner, the most important problem when designing a house is to find a way to maintain privacy. This courtyard, which is enclosed on all sides, was designed specifically for this purpose. Even the master bedroom has double doors that upon out onto the patio. In the courtyard, the architect implemented a fountain, with the vision of being able to hear the rippling water from any place in the house. Up in the foothills, another concern while designing this house was the heat. Most of the vegetation in the hills in dry and brown, and the sun beats down at a very intense level in comparison to other areas of Boise. The landscaping of this house aimed to find a way to beat the heat. Each area of the United States is divided up into zones. Each zone is able to grow a certain variety of plants, based on heat, humidity, water availability, etc. Something that stands out about this house, is that the architect was able to design such a secluded courtyard that it is actually considered to be in a different zone than the rest of Boise because of its varied microclimate. The residents enjoy planting trees and plants that can’t be found in any other garden in the city. The Mediterranean style is distinguishable for its excessive use of arches and red tiled roofs. This house had large arches that support the second floor, which can also be seen from the outside. The windows have curved tops and even the walkway curves around like a 2-D arch. The doors on the side of the house facing the street are also in the shape of slight arches, and divided into rows and columns, as are many of the windows throughout the house. Another distinguishable feature of Mediterranean houses is the common use of iron railings for balconies, which can be found along the upper balcony adjacent to the main living space. The architect also focused on using large overhangs to help create shade from the sun during the summer. In contrast, the large windows facing the southern side take part in passive heating, where the sun shines through and warms the stone, which then helps to keep the house warmer during the colder months in the winter. The materials incorporated into this house are also of some significance. The architect said that the stucco came from the Mediterranean style, but the stone and wood were supposed to help tie the house back to nature. They focused on using materials that were natural or looked to be so. The trellis over the main walkway, made of wood, was designed to facilitate the growth of moss and other climbing plants to give that rustic feel. The interior of the house is very open. Many of the rooms are divided by half walls, or no walls at all, making the house feel very spacious and interactive. The ceilings in the main room and kitchen are exceptionally high, which opens up the room. One of the former resident’s favorite part of having high ceilings is during the Christmas season, when her family used to buy the tallest tree they could find, and after decorating it as a family, it would light the whole room up. This house has 5 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, and is around 5,500 square feet. One important feature of this house is the sheer area of the out door patio and deck space. Because of this, the former residents said that they often times threw huge parties and one time even threw a wedding party for their newly wed friends! This house also has a special significance to myself. My mother, the architect of this house, designed it originally to be sold on the market. When it didn’t sell, we moved into it, my mother, father, and sister and I. growing up in this house we made a lot of memories. I remember large New Years Eve parties, and sitting in front of the fireplace in the winter. The landscapers seemed to always be there, as our puppy at the time kept digging holes and ripping out all of the landscaping. My favorite thing about this house is the master bathroom, as the bathtub is larger than a hot tub and is surrounded by windows into the private courtyard. This house is really a magnificent piece of artwork.

Building submitted by Morgan Labrie

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