Two renowned architects — one also a longtime writer, editor and critic — designed this expressive Modernist home in the hills of Sonoma as their private wine country residence.
In a sensitive touch, the home has a split-level footprint to follow the gentle slope of the land. The scale is relatively modest, out of respect for the enveloping trees and other flora. The layout is both lucid and idealistic with highly functional, flexible spaces laid out in a long rectilinear plan with a soothing horizontality. The overall mood is of light, comfort, and sophisticated simplicity.
The home shows a respect for texture. Its earthquake-resistant construction uses recycled foam and poured concrete finished with shot-earth inside and out producing 18” thick walls with extraordinary insulation value. There are tongue and groove ceilings of reclaimed wood, and integrally dyed poured concrete floors. The beauty of fine proportions is held in high esteem — the approx. 2,400 square foot floor plan feels unpretentiously grand. Interior walls have been dispensed with wherever possible — or have been configured as storage elements — and light floods in through plentiful skylights. Most rooms are oriented toward the northwest, all the better to appreciate green hill and sunset views of the valley.
Aptly for the home of an author, many spaces have been fitted with built-in bookshelves, yet thanks to careful styling, these walls conceal floor to ceiling pocket doors, and the troves of volumes remain subordinate to the home’s captivating, well-considered architecture. The unique pocket doors of almost 12’ are a distinctive feature throughout, easily rolled back to create a sense of seamless open living. Windows are aligned to create vast, easy vantages.
The entry level begins with the kitchen, breakfast room, television room and study. At their edge is a lengthy clerestory that illuminates spaces on either side of the home’s central axis. The kitchen — galley-style, fitting for a couple whose roots were once firmly planted in Manhattan — has a green glass wall, a welcome splash of color that reflects the front garden.
There is an open-plan living and dining room. At its heart is a fireplace with an eye-catching red chimney and a surround of perforated aluminum tiles, which adds a touch of sleek “industrial” modernity, a stylish counterpoint to the home’s general reverence for earthiness. In keeping with the indoor-outdoor nature of the living spaces, tall glass doors open to an alluring terrace with a wheeled tent pavilion and, steps beyond, a serene lap pool. Enveloping it all are the bucolic hills of Sonoma.
The living area is flanked by master and guest bedrooms. Glass walls dominate the tranquil master suite which overlooks the pool and view. The guest suite enjoys a view of the rugged surroundings and trees. Adjoining is a library, which could serve as an additional bedroom, if desired.
Tucked amid the gardens is a detached glass-walled, light-filled pavilion with half bath off approximately 400 square feet that functions as a working studio or as another guest room. This modern “cube” is cantilevered and seems to float above the land. Vistas and garden views are gorgeous.
The home is approached via a private country road that leads gently upward through undeniably lush greenery. Nary a neighbor is visible from the home and the peace and privacy are welcome. Says one of its owners, “It’s five acres that feels like 100.”
Located just minutes above the historic town of Sonoma in The Ranch and approximately 1 hour from San Francisco.
Gated Entry to The Ranch, a premier Sonoma Valley Enclave
Elegant, beautifully maintained private road to the property
Enveloping trees, flora and dramatic rock out croppings
Dramatic Sunset and Sonoma Valley views
Lap style pool
Designed by renowned architects Abercrombie and Vieyra for their own home
Classic Modern Style
Cove lighting throughout
Total wall thickness is 18 inches
Ener-Grid blocks embedded with concrete with an R36 insulation values
Wall finish of cement and Sonoma Earth, 4 inches thick inside and out
Ceiling height of main living and bed rooms is approx 11’9”
Floor to ceiling windows in living and bedrooms
Designed so partition walls are movable for personal living styles
A small town with a rich history, the center of the locavore food movement, and situated in the heart of Wine Country, the city of Sonoma is content to play country mouse to its more citified cousin, Napa. You won’t find enormous tour buses disgorging hundreds of passengers in downtown Sonoma; the city of 10,000 residents is mostly laid-back and quiet.
Centered on what many call one of the most beautiful town plazas in the state, with its historic, preserved Mission that dates back to 1823, Sonoma has the feel of a small country town — that is, if a small country town boasted more than a dozen tasting rooms of award-winning wineries. Surrounded by vineyards and more than 60 world-class wineries that mix the elegant with the down home, Sonoma is ground zero for great wine and the lifestyle that goes with it.
All that makes Sonoma a premier destination, sought after for its mellow pace, natural beauty, and proximity to San Francisco, just 45 miles south. Sonoma offers plenty of things to do, including jazz festivals, parades, cooking classes, the Sonoma International Film Festival, and exhibitions and openings at Sonoma Valley Museum of Art.
Spacious homes in the vineyards and rolling hills around Sonoma command spectacular views. Today, the multi-million dollar estates of Sonoma range from Tuscan-style villas to more adventurous concrete and glass architectural statements.