As college students in the early 1990s, Junaid Qurashi and his friends obsessively watched “Star Trek.”
The sci-fi drama “took us from the real world into this fantasy world,” recalls Mr. Qurashi. The engineering students especially loved the show’s technology, from flip phones to lights that turned on and off automatically. “It touches on this concept of, what is there to come?” he says.
Now a 49-year-old tech entrepreneur, Mr. Qurashi has made futuristic features a reality in his gadget-filled Northern California home, where he can open the shades while lying in bed and set the temperature of the shower before entering the bathroom.
Even the home’s appearance pays homage to “Star Trek,” thanks to Mr. Qurashi’s architect wife, Malika Junaid, 43, who designed the ultramodern steel-and-glass structure. The focal point is what Ms. Junaid calls “a very abstracted version of the Starship Enterprise”: a circular glass dining room that juts out over the indoor swimming pool. Suspended 10 feet in the air, “it’s kind of ready to take off,” says Ms. Junaid, who took her husband’s first name as her surname when they got married.
Other nods to “Star Trek” include a transparent suction elevator that whisks riders up and down in reference to the famous line, “Beam me up, Scotty!” Also beloved by Mr. Qurashi and the couple’s two daughters, Mishal, 14, and Alisha, 12, is “Star Wars.” In the 18-seat home theater, the ceiling is decorated with images of the Millennium Falcon and two other Star Wars spaceships, while on the back wall are lines from the opening of “Star Wars.”
The six-bedroom house is located in Los Altos Hills, a wealthy, rural enclave in Silicon Valley. Standing in the home theater on an October afternoon, Mr. Qurashi and Ms. Junaid chat enthusiastically about cameras that use artificial intelligence and playfully debate the relative merits of Apple Watches vs. Fitbits. Mr. Qurashi previously worked at tech companies including VMware, but he’s now primarily an investor. “Hey Siri, turn off the theater lights,” he says to his watch by way of demonstration. “He’s showing off, considering I don’t like the Apple Watch,” says his wife with an affectionate eye roll. “I like my little Fitbit.”
Technology is everywhere in the house, which took roughly three years and $10 million to build. It is a smart home ne plus ultra: the lights, sound, climate and security cameras—even the pool temperature—can be controlled by smartphones, Apple Watch, Siri and Alexa, and control panels throughout the home, including a Star Trek-esque console. In the kitchen, a 19-foot-long backsplash retracts at the wave of a hand, revealing a hidden storage space for appliances. Behind that, a second pane of glass moves up and down to conceal another, narrow kitchen that can be used by caterers. An upper cabinet door that might be out of reach for some visitors is mechanized so it closes automatically. Another button prompts a spice rack to emerge from within the long, white kitchen island.
To bring their vision to fruition, the couple relied on technology integrator ZettaComm, the home automation company ELAN, and Nortek Security & Control. “We were looking for partners who would say ‘Hey, let’s try this,’” Ms. Junaid said.
Despite the high-tech, ultramodern aesthetic—and as a kind of antidote to it—the couple also wanted to embrace their love of outdoors and the home’s rural setting. The house is perched on approximately 2.7 acres of wooded hillside they discovered while trail-running, and bought for about $2 million. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls maximize views of the surrounding gnarled oak trees and a distant San Francisco Bay. Deer and wild turkeys wander on to the patio.
“Once you get into the house, we wanted to be able to feel like you’re part of nature,” said Ms. Junaid, a co-founder of the Los Altos-based M•Designs Architects. She said she is currently working on a number of residential projects in Los Altos Hills, and used her home as an opportunity to experiment.
One such undertaking: Next to the swimming pool is a two-story, glass airplane hangar door the couple modified to work in a residential setting. At the touch of a button it pivots upward, opening the pool and most of the home’s living areas to the outdoors. “We’re waiting for birds to fly in, but that hasn’t happened yet,” said Ms. Junaid.
Most summer weekends that door stays open, while the girls and their friends hang out in the pool or outdoor bocce court. The family is also installing a climbing wall and zip lines. “Once their work is done, we don’t want them on computers,” Ms. Junaid said. “We want them outside.”
Art was another important design influence; Ms. Junaid paints in her spare time. One of her favorite works is Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, so the family re-created a portion of “The Creation of Adam” with a custom tile design on the bottom of the pool. From the glass dining room above, diners can look directly down on to the hand of God.
One of Ms. Junaid’s favorite features is the family’s seven chickens, who live in a specially built enclosure just off the kitchen. Leading the way outside, she headed straight into their pen with a paper cup full of feed. “These three are the babies,” she says. “They eat anything and everything, which is leftovers, tomatoes, cucumbers.”
Back inside the kitchen, an equally enthused Mr. Qurashi shows off an iPhone photo of the chickens’ eggs. When asked about the contrast between the home’s high-tech vibe and pastoral surroundings, Ms. Junaid says: “We all have a lot of things that we depend on for the comfort of everyday living. But nature is why we moved here.”
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