1732 Warm Springs Ave. 

A casual drive down Warm Springs one afternoon turned into a frantic but joyous trip when I saw a "For Sale" sign on an Art Troutner house. Troutner was an amazing designer, inventor, builder and co-founder of Trus Joist. I have written up several of his houses over the past few years, so I won't go into detail on the man or his works. A few years ago, this house was on the market and the Idaho Statesman did an article a short time after it was bought by the current owner. I missed both of those opportunities to learn more about the house but not this time, no way.

The house was built in 1959 for Idaho lawmaker Edith Miller Klein and her husband. The current owner is only the third owner of the house. Don't let the Warm Springs address fool ya; there are no Doric columns, heavy cornices or manicured front lawns. The only common feature this house shares with its neighbors is the geothermal heat.

The house is a single-story with a low profile. It is unassuming, revealing little about the contents inside. The dome of the skylight is the only real feature that gives a clue. Actually, just spending a few minutes examining some of the details of the front of the house and carport give a sense of what to expect inside. For example, the carport is partially supported by these wood framed fin elements that are attached to the concrete with steel rods and then notched into the wood beam at the top. These elements are repeated throughout the interior and exterior of the house. The exterior is a mix of masonry, wood siding and samplings of metal and steel. The masonry and wood have been left au natural--no paint, no stain (well, there might be a tint in the wood). Any metal or steel is finished in black.

The flush wood entry door has a frosted glass sidelight and transom window above. The door opens into an incredibly light-filled interior. Stone flooring (perhaps Oakley stone) is used extensively throughout the house.

The living room sits just off of the entry hall behind a built-in wooden screen wall that also functions as entertainment unit (that would be 1960s entertainment--cocktails and music--not your own little Edwards Theater). High windows placed along the south wall allow for some natural light but also provide visual screening from Warm Springs. The use of natural light is a repeating element in many of Troutner's houses. The rooms in this house have a real sense of privacy but still provide opportunities for natural light and views.

The fireplace is open on four sides and sits up off of the floor on a masonry and stone hearth. The black steel surround extends up to the ceiling, intersecting the skylight. Oh yeah, the skylight. Wow! The skylight runs the length of the house, filling the house with a wonderful glow. The kitchen has richly stained wooden cabinets. Frosted glass shelves and metal countertops complete the picture. The pool is essentially an interior courtyard. All the major spaces open into it through several pairs of French doors and more of the wood fins. The bedrooms all have built-in storage and even the precision in the detailing and execution of the storage units is impressive. High windows, once again, allow for privacy but provide natural light and ventilation. The bathrooms have mosaic tiled showers and countertops and again, natural light fills the spaces through the skylight.

What strikes me most about this house, is the contrast in materials and the execution of the details: the beauty of wood set against and framed within the masonry, cabinet doors and drawers that function perfectly and fit precisely in their openings even after more than 45 years. It is not a huge house but it utilizes the space efficiently. The relationship of function and context is exemplified with high windows for privacy at bedrooms and along Warm Springs, and with larger openings to connect not only interior spaces but also leading to the exterior, which allows the house to bleed to the outside.

PROS: I really need another 600 words to go into all that.

CONS: None come to mind.

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