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By Alexandria Abramian | Photo: Home Photography by Paul Dyer | Portrait by Quinn Wharton | April 3, 2018
A wine country retreat reimagines the concept of modern farmhouse living.
Forget the “modern farmhouse” trend that’s setting legions of design lovers on a barn door, henhouse building frenzy. When San Anselmo-based Wade Design Architects were tapped to create a rural Sonoma retreat, they ignored abundant agrarian decorating clichés and instead created a stunning compound that bears its own code of wine country design cred.
“From my first meeting with the Wades, I mentioned a modern farmhouse. I always loved the wine country aesthetic, but wanted a more modern approach,” says the homeowner, a bachelor based in San Francisco who says the home’s location—and easy bike ride into town—was part of its allure. “Also important was an open, indoor-outdoor layout to accommodate entertaining.”
In order to realize his visions of an open-flow Sonoma sanctuary, the firm created a 4,700-square-foot residence that’s strategically situated to invite dramatic views of nearby Mount Veeder, while providing a vital home base from which to entertain anywhere from five to 50 guests. “From the living room wall, which opens completely to the patio, to built-in luggage racks in each bedroom, the house was made for entertaining,” says the homeowner, who brings his two Labrador retrievers over for weekends. Together, they can roam throughout the three-acre property that’s dotted with native oaks and accessed via an old rural bridge.
Not surprisingly, food and wine are central to the home’s design. An open kitchen—where a dramatic blackened steel wine storage unit makes for a stunning focal point—provides easy access to a large-scale outdoor entertaining area. “Indoor-outdoor design is about more than just big door openings,” says architect Luke Wade. “Creating good flow and outdoor spaces that are attractive and thought through makes the outdoors inviting. On this project, a covered outdoor dining area anchored by a pizza oven blends with a woven willow trellis over lounge space. This is a place you can spend hours outside.”
It’s exactly that which keeps the homeowner coming back to his second home: “I miss the ability to be outside, especially in the evenings when it can get quite chilly in San Francisco,” he says. “This outdoor lounge is such a great place to do just that, whether its relaxing on my own with a good book, or entertaining friends and family, it’s the perfect connector between the kitchen and the pool area and the covered area keeps everything cool even in the height of summer.”
Wade balanced those expansive public areas with a series of private rooms—inviting contemplation and retreat. Interior designer Bryan Fox worked meticulously to echo that distinction. “While the public areas of the house are concerned with large, flowing finishes, the private areas contrast by reducing scale and tone to much smaller increments,” says Fox. “In the master bathroom, silver travertine is used, but the scale creates a tight texture appropriate for the space.” Even the statement-making wallcovering in the master bedroom manages to convey an intimate sense of pattern: Upon first glance, the wallpaper makes a sweeping geometric shape. Move up close, however, and a floral, decorative pattern begins to emerge.
Today the homeowner frequents the home to routinely entertain friends and family in gatherings both intimate and grand. “I can sleep about nine people but have entertained group as large as 65 comfortably for a pool party,” he explains. “The house is better than I envisioned.”
Living room wall tile, master bedroom floor tile
Benjamin Moore Paints
Dining room table and chairs; kitchen barstools
Upholstery for dining room chairs, living room sofa and daybed, and master bedroom bed
Fox Marble and Stone
Kitchen counters and fireplace wall slabs
Recessed ceiling lighting in kitchen, living and dining rooms, and master bedroom
Living room daybed
Living room window coverings
Carpeting in master bedroom
Wallcovering used in master bedroom