Bay Area writer Chase Reynolds Ewald knows when a design topic is ready for its own coffee-table book. Ewald recently teamed up with Heather Sandy Hebert, a fellow writer who has worked at architectural firms throughout the Bay Area, to craft “At Home in the Wine Country: Architecture & Design in the California Vineyards,” a new book that showcases spectacular homes in Sonoma and Napa counties.
From contemporary farmhouse-style properties to ultra-modern residences, the homes featured in “At Home in Wine Country” pay homage to the prized setting they inhabit as they blend into the surrounding natural landscape by means of a “restrained approach to architecture,” according to Ewald.
This approach to architecture can be seen in the seamless connection between indoor and outdoor spaces throughout these properties: expansive, unadorned windows frame outdoor views while subdued color palettes give focus to surrounding vineyards and rolling hills. Hebert predicts this focus on connecting indoor and outdoor living spaces will continue in the world of design and architecture as homeowners try to create year-round outdoor areas for social gatherings in the wake of the pandemic.
To make homes blend with the surrounding area, the architects behind the book’s properties have paid close attention to the topography and colors of the landscape. If a property is to be located on a hillside, for example, they will build into the contours of the hills, says Ewald. And the color palettes will emulate the colors of the natural landscape or contrast — in black and white — in a way that showcases the nature rather than the house. A Black Box home in Napa, for example, might seem at first glance a radical exercise in modern design but Hebert points out that the architect’s intent was to make the building “disappear” into the afternoon shadows cast by the trees.
“At Home in Wine Country” features both exterior and interior shots of stunning homes as well as design details such as creative countertop stylings using pottery, textiles and natural elements, and garden landscaping that is beautiful, drought-tolerant and fire safe. While the book offers plenty of information and advice to prospective home builders, it’s perhaps primarily a celebration of architecture as an art form. Readers will no doubt pick out their dream homes and favorite design details among the properties featured in the book. Ewald, who grew up in Vermont, prefers a modern farmhouse “warmed up” with rustic elements while Hebert adores the “Nana windows,” a folding wall of windows that opens up toward the outdoors. Click through the above gallery to take a peek at some of the properties featured in the book and pick your own favorite.
“At Home in the Wine Country: Architecture & Design in the California Vineyards” is available August 24, 2021 and can be purchased online.