Four years ago, Jenne and Adam Wicht had a firm deadline when it came to purchasing their family home in Sonoma. “I was 40 weeks pregnant,” says Jenne.
“Like a gajillion weeks pregnant,” laughs Adam. “And so we went in there and just started ripping out all the carpet, and called the painters and said, ‘Can you just whitewash this place?’”
Taking on challenging projects on tight timelines is par for the course for the couple, who own Jak W, a sustainable interior design shop just off the square in downtown Sonoma, and manage corporate interior design projects for tech firms like Google. At the time the couple bought the home, they were living nearby in a 625-square-foot cottage. The cottage was the first home they’d owned together and had huge sentimental value — but they knew it wouldn’t work with both their older son and a new baby arriving any day.
After some initial cosmetic changes with paint and floors, Adam and Jenne lived with the boys in the house for two years, mulling over plans for an overhaul. In January 2020, they tackled another renovation that included a new interior layout, plus updated floors and finishes throughout. “I have this philosophy about design, that it’s not about putting the most expensive product in there and making it feel as polished and clean as you possibly can,” explains Jenne. “It’s about making the house function for whoever’s living in it. And so now it just feels like it’s our house. It functions for us, and the way we want to live.”
To reach that goal, they designed a new kitchen open to the dining and main living areas and added a mudroom. Because they love to entertain, they focused on the flow between common spaces and replaced a narrow, poorly functioning pantry with a new, glossy-black bar area, where Jenne likes to mix up a martini at the end of the day. The ground level also has a new playroom and homework area for the boys, Gus, 6, and Bernie, 4, where they can get creative and make a mess with their Legos and board games, but still remain close by while Jenne and Adam work.
The room-by-room process took a year and a half, evolving around the demands of life at home during a pandemic with two young kids. “Because we were doing design projects for clients as we were doing this, there was a lot of stuff that just had to happen on the fly. You always prioritize everybody else before you do yourself,” laughs Jenne. “It’s like the cobbler who never has any shoes.”
There were some silver linings for their two sons, says Adam. “We had a digger in the backyard for about three weeks,” he jokes. “Like, ‘Yeah, we’ve got construction equipment; we’ve got a Bobcat in our backyard.’” “We just roll with it. We’re not the family that says, ‘Okay, it’s 6:30, time to get ready for baths and bedtime,’” says Jenne. “We do kind of break the rules… When Adam and I started our business, one of the things we talked about was, if we have a family, we want our family to be with us. We don’t want to be separated from them.”
Even in winter, the Wichts are able to spend a lot of time outside together. There are lemon and citrus trees in the yard, puddles to stomp in around the neighborhood, and small streams that the boys like to play in at the nearby Montini Open Space Preserve. The home is also just a couple blocks from the paved bike path that leads into downtown Sonoma. Weekends, the family cruises into town to visit the store in a Dutch-style cargo bike with a big tub in front where the boys can sit.
“I think that’s one of the best parts of opening up the store has been getting to know the community more, because now we’re rooted here in a way that we weren’t before. We’ll bike in on the weekend, and we see people come into the store; we’ve gotten to know the other shop owners around us. It feels like we’re really integrated now,” says Jenne.
Both Adam and Jenne have family close by, so the home has become a true family home, says Jenne. “The kids do sleepovers with their grandmother, and Adam’s sisters are over all the time. It’s become like a revolving door, with family coming in and out, and it’s just really nice.”
At Jak W
Courting creatives. Interior designers Jenne and Adam Wicht say becoming a part of the Sonoma maker community was a big draw when they moved to town in 2013. Adam has his own aromatherapy skincare line called Boditonic, which is available at their shop. “It’s inspiring to be around people who are creating things,” says Jenne. Some of her favorite local makers:
Pottery By Nicole. Sonoma ceramicist Nicole Hummer created a line of mugs and tableware for the store with a smooth, organic hand feel and a custom ivory glaze.
Sonoma Botanicals. Jenne worked with the Sonoma-based apothecary on a charcoal and sesame oil soap-on-a-rope especially for Jak W. sonomabotanicals.com
Kin the Label. Sisters Ashley Cornil and Sara Brady live in Sonoma and have a line of beautifully simple wool and straw hats, perfect for being outdoors year-round. kinlabel.com
McEvoy Ranch. Jenne loves the ranch’s Ode skincare line made with estate olive oil. mcevoyranch.com
Jak W, 124 W. Napa St., Sonoma. 707-934-8950, jak-w.com