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A Closer Look: At Home on a Hilltop

Straddling a Sonoma ridge, this contemporary house is an edgy mix of weathered boards, corrugated metal, and a plan that invites outdoor living

Architect Obie Bowman employed the site-repair approach to siting this contemporary retirement home: The best spots on the site are reserved for picnicking and outdoor living, while the house and back porch nestle the hillside. A multi-purpose portal serves as garage, shed and workshop and includes a signature Bowman element overhead: a take-notice log lintel. It's visitors' first clue that the path to the Weber house leads to good design.         

Read At Home on a Hilltop  to learn more about Bowman's approach to designing this house.

The path to the Weber house leads through a portal in a long, low building at the head of the driveway. The portal’s entry is topped with a massive redwood log, held aloft by a quartet of timber-framed brackets. It is a timeless expression of strength and longevity. A V-shaped gutter let into the top of the log channels runoff to the left. All photos: Charles Miller
Follow the path to the main house. Weathered redwood and corrugated steel siding echo hilltop hues.
Part garage, part woodshop and part garden shed, this building also serves as the eastern border of a hilltop courtyard. Translucent panels woven into the corrugated roofing daylight the shop and garage.
The hill falls away to the south, so steep as to make it unwalkable. Tucked into the madrone and live oak trees, a deck off the guest room faces east, overlooking the ravine below.
A common roof connects the guest room and the main house, with an opening between the two.
The southwest-facing porch stretches nearly the entire length of the main house. Above its roof, wooden awnings shield the windows from the summer sun.
A patio with a built-in grill spreads out next to the door to the guest house.
From above, the timbered passage between the two parts of the house frames the view of a favorite oak tree. On the left, a storage space lies behind a door that hangs from rollers in a barn-door track.
Tiled in slate, the guest-room bath features a door-less, step-down shower topped with a skylight.
The bath’s lavatory is let into a counter overlooking the bedroom below. Its mirror hangs from cables affixed to a beam.
Hal and Mary’s rustic red cabinet, received as a wedding present, sits in a dedicated notch in the wall outside the master bath.
Wide shelves at the stair landing from the bedroom to the main floor make gallery space for a prized collection of ceramic pots, wooden bowls and a chest of drawers.
A bank of windows overlooking the courtyard puts anybody in the kitchen in close touch with the landscape.
From Fine Homebuilding187 (Houses) , pp. 100-105