“Architecture doesn’t move,” said Idyllwild residential designer David Lilieholm, “but the landscape speaks.” His home designs reflect that conversation.
Lilieholm has lived on the Hill for 28 years and knows the contours and textures of the mountain well. He regularly hikes and climbs. He watches, listens, touches and feels the identity of the land through his hands and the soles of his feet.
The topography of the land of the homes he designs profoundly influences his design choices. “Engage the landscape,” he advises. “Understand the life, the textures and intimacies of the land, particularly in Idyllwild where the land speaks so powerfully. It’s why people come here.”
As a result, his home designs all seem to have fluid aspects, such as solid sculpture that appears to move. In designing his own home on Double View Drive, Lilieholm wanted to create a tranquil, reflective area in the front of the home facing the street and open the living areas of the structure to the magnificent views to the west. “I wanted to frame the front in, separate it from the street and create a meditative living space,” said Lilieholm. “The views to the west are so vast they don’t have the same kind of quiet intimacy.”
Sculpting to the contours and vistas of the site, Lilieholm designed three structures — an office, the primary residence and a guest house with space between each that opens to breathtaking distant mountain views (think Inspiration Point at sunset). And to best illustrate how, with his designs, solid structures can appear to move fluidly, Lilieholm hung white fabric from beams connecting the main residence to the guest house, complementing the views to the western vistas so that wind would always influence and define the space.
“A lot of people are here for inspiration,” said Lilieholm. “That is so vital for one’s life purpose and creativity. I create spaces in the structure and landscape that will increase that element of inspiration for people.”
Lilieholm has a bachelor of fine arts from the University of Montana and a master’s of architecture from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Immediately after graduation he and wife Val Velez came to Idyllwild to attend summer retreats at the Zen Mountain Center prior to moving to Uganda for a volunteer project. “But then Val became pregnant and we rethought our decision of moving to Africa,” recounted Lilieholm. And even though both had reservations about staying in Idyllwild because there was no high school, they did stay and both children later went to Idyllwild Arts. “We lucked out because of coming for the Zen Center and again because of the education our children received at Idyllwild Arts,” he said. “I think [IA] is such a profound presence in the town.”
His home designs are deeply organic, seeming to grow out of the space. He uses materials that complement the textures of the mountain and landscapes that are native. “Idyllwild is so rare and precious,” said Lilieholm. “It’s all about the people who are here and what inspires them. They bring something to this place that elevates the culture.”
And that is what Lilieholm does with his designs. He interacts with the mountain and sculpts the space. “My goal is to collaborate with clients to create an integrated design of house and land, expressing and combining the unique power of each site with the clients’ unique sheltering desires,” he said.
For more about David Lilieholm see www.lilieholmdesign.com.