vB Home

Project Description

This site contains all the elements needed to build the California home; classic Northern California views, perfect sun exposure with enough flat terrain to enjoy real outdoor living. The home wraps around a knoll, allowing for outdoor – indoor living. Kitchen, family, living and dining rooms open directly to the patio, pool and those foothill and vineyard views. At the edge of the patio, the main bedroom is cantilevered, thrust into the adjacent Russian River Valley below.

The main residence contains three ensuite bedrooms with three and a half bathrooms, attached to a two bedroom, two bath guest wing, all fronting the pool, gardens and vineyard views. The lower level contains a wine cave and office along with an outdoor sitting area nestled under the cantilever of the main bedroom above. This outdoor room has a pond which terminates a cascading waterfall from the pool area above.

The soft modern structure has a palette of cedar, concrete and glass layered horizontally, resulting in a dynamic, soaring home sitting gently on this beautiful site; California living at its best.

Design Challenge

The main challenge for this project was designing a house on a steep hillside in a way that would respect the site and compliment its extensive views and natural beauty. The preliminary design was guided by a restrictive building envelope based on the view corridor, which forced the entire building to the middle of the hillside. While it produced a beautiful home, it required massive grading and extensive retaining walls. Luckily, our client was able to work a deal with the neighboring property, offering a thoughtful design that would not hinder nor block their views in exchange for 200 feet of depth at the rear setback.  This allowed for the upper level of the house to daylight atop the knoll. The lower level of the house follows the natural grade of the terrain, tucked into the hillside and sheltered by a cantilevered wing soaring overhead The rest, and the re-design, came quickly, but vehicular access needed to be dealt with. A driveway design hugged one property line while crossing to the opposite side property line, encircling the flat knoll created with the added building site depth. The new driveway is tucked below view of the outdoor living and pool deck. Cars get around back with access to entry and kitchen drop offs and remains out of view.

Physical Context

The site is located in one of the most picturesque valleys in Northern California. Primary views are of the Russian River Valley to the south-east, then to vineyard valleys and coastal mountains to the South and West. Site mapping showed that the views and the sun take the same path, East to West. The path and views set the design for the outdoor living spaces and room placement. These environmental parameters became the driving forces in this indoor-outdoor experience. Custom louvered screens positioned throughout the home provide additional sun shading and passive energy control. The signature design statement is the cantilevered main bedroom, which is visible from the Westside Road and property approach below. The cantilevered room physically enters the valley’s airspace, gracefully connecting to the Russian River and its famous vineyards. The horizontality of the building's lines balance the site’s inherent beauty with structure, and allow for a unique intersection of environment and home.