The Family Home

When a lighting designer teams up with her architect brother to design a house, surprising and wonderful things are bound to happen.

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A staircase fabricated from aluminum plate is a sculpture, as well as an access to the loft bedroom and master bath on the third floor.Lighting designer Leslie Sander is at home in the rafters, illuminating the stage for such stellar performances as the Live 8 concert and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

She lives in a theatrical house, a soaring contemporary structure of glass, cedar and metal, where she finds peace among the treetops.

Sander’s work has taken her far and wide. But when it came to buying her first home, she couldn’t find the right fit, a place where she could unwind instantly.

“What I was looking for was a reason to stay home,” she says. “I had been on the road for so long.”

Fortuitously, Sander had a longtime relationship with an architect who knew her well. Her brother, Whitney Sander, is a celebrated contemporary architect in California, the latest generation in a family of architects. He agreed to design a one-of-a-kind home for his sister on a verdant plot she owned in a traditional neighborhood in Greenville that was developed in the 1950s.

“When we were growing up, everybody else was weaving potholders, and my brother was putting together little buildings with toothpicks and glue,” Sander recalls. “We hoped doing this project together would be a lot of fun.”

It also was a rare opportunity for the siblings to reconnect. Brother and sister were separated several years after their parents divorced. Leslie, who was 12, went to live with her father. Whitney, 18 months younger, stayed with his mother.

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