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.
Synopsis: Retirees from Atlanta decide to set up house in one of their favorite vacation destinations: the hilly wine country of Northern California. Rather than build on the flat parcel of land that was created when the hilltop was lopped off, they chose to encircle the level area with a house and a garage, creating a courtyard bordered by a lap pool (which also acts as a water source for fighting wildfires). Architect Obie Bowman designed the garage to act as a gateway to the compound; it also houses a storage shed and a woodshop. The house itself is mostly one room, with lots of dedicated corners sized to fulfill their functions without wasting space. Ceiling-height bookcases line the center hall, and a breezeway connects the main house with the guest quarters. The breezeway spills into an outdoor dining area that includes a built-in gas grill inside a steel-lined alcove.