Architecture of the month
Calistoga || United States of America
Located in Calistoga, a small town in Northern California’s Napa Valley, this renovated farmhouse is placed gently into a landscape of grape vines and matured walnut trees. The clients, local winemakers, desired a modern dwelling that would complement the small estate while working within the structure of the former residence. With the home’s new design, the relationship to site and ambiguity of the plan are simplified and celebrated through the shifting of openings and partitions, and the addition of key unifying elements.
Openings in the exterior envelope have been increased with the addition of large operable windows and sliding glass doors leading out to a wrap-around porch, allowing the clients to take advantage of the Mediterranean-like climate and natural ventilation.
While the previous residence and its newly renovated form share a similar programmatic layout, the inhabitant experience has been reimagined through the clear definition of public and private spaces.
The main entry, which once awkwardly directed visitors to the second-floor master suite, has been shifted to the center axis of the house and now guides visitors directly into the open living room and dining area. A cedar-clad spine organizes vertical circulation and support program into a feature element.
The use of vertical cedar siding throughout the renovated portions of the home helps to define the interventions and accentuate the traditional gray-painted cedar shake, punched windows, and white trim of the former design.
The same wood detailing is repeated in the cladding of the expanded kitchen volume, the catalyst for the renovation, which takes on new prominence as the hub of the house and gateway to an expanded deck, rectilinear pool, guesthouse, and renovated water tower. The redesigned yard includes numerous opportunities for entertaining, including a built-in barbecue, fire pit, and bocce ball court, with views of the vineyards beyond.
Screened from the public spaces by the stair and utility spine, the private spaces of the main level become an intimate retreat while maintaining easy access to the rest of the house. The shared bath has been opportunistically enlarged to capture tranquil views of neighboring California redwoods. Lower height program elements, including the bathtub, desk and sitting area, are placed within dormer areas to free the center of the space for standing height program elements and to center the bed within the room.
The materials used help to define programmatic elements throughout the dwelling. Durable basalt floors in common areas, a nod to the geology of the region, contrast the softness of reclaimed Doug fir used in private spaces. Warm hemlock cabinetry and rich copper tones of the fireplace surround reflect the hues of the exterior landscape and balance the clean lines and crisp expression of white painted drywall. Existing materials were utilized to the greatest extent possible. Cedar shingles were maintained as the dominant exterior finish and balanced with western red cedar siding and copper panels. These added materials are intended to weather naturally with the environment and do not require excessive maintenance. Inside the house, materials were similarly selected for their durability and ease of maintenance.
Because this project is a renovation, the sustainability goals centered around working within the existing structure and materials to the greatest extent possible. Key interventions were made with an eye toward the largest impact on energy efficiency, including a retrofit of the exterior envelope with improved R-value spray foam insultation and upgraded systems – high efficiency HVAC, low flow plumbing fixtures, high efficacy lighting and photovoltaic roof panels. Deep porch overhangs project the home from direct solar gain, additional operable windows help to passively cool the home, and new skylights increase the daylight throughout the space.
The landscape was renovated to simultaneously reduce the amount of water used on site while increasing the quality and intensity of water experiences where used. All big water uses – the lawn, pool, and fruit trees where located together. The result is a wonderful relief from the heat and dryness elsewhere on the site. In these areas, plants were selected for their efficient use of water and tolerance for heat. Large agaves and native grasses create an arrival landscape with showy texture and sculptural presence that has limited water needs. Lastly, the irrigation system was overhauled to a weather-based sensor and more intentional hyrdozoning.
The extensive redesign of this dated farmhouse turned modern residence, with its many connections to the surrounding landscape, provide extraordinary views of the surrounding vineyards and creates a contemporary home for the clients to enjoy for many years to come.
Location: Calistoga, North California (USA)
Gross Floor Area: 412 m2
Architect and Interior Designer: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
Contractor: Fairweather & Associates
Landscape: Einwiller Kuehl
Structural: Daedalus Structural Engineering
Lighting Design: Banks Ramos
Bathroom Fixtures: Duravit
Photography: © Matthew Millman, courtesy Bohlin Cywinski Jackson