House Tour: A California Country Home With a French Accent

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For people who love design and architecture, looking at some homes is something like gazing at the rugged Greek Isles, a rolling Western mountain range, or the point where the white Hawaiian sand meets the strong blue Pacific Ocean—they are just so beautiful it hurts.

Of course, no human-made structure is a real match for the majesty of the natural world, but some of them come pretty close. A prime example is this California Wine Country home—new, but with classic details, rustic materials, and a perfect siting that make it a timeless beauty.

Houzz at a Glance:

Location: Healdsburg, Sonoma County

Designers: Jute Interior Design (interior design); ARC Design (architecture); Lucas & Lucas (landscape architecture)



You would be hard-pressed to identify this as a new home just by looking at it. The stone walls, rustic wood doors and old olive trees growing in front make it seem timeless. The owners wanted it that way, and were inspired by the age-old farmhouses that dot the French countryside. Vineyards circling the property complete the picture.

"Inside, they used plaster walls and refused to put in things like recessed lighting," says Alison Davin, the interior designer. "It appears to be a very old house that was updated over the years."

Some of those imagined updates would be the metal doors and windows. "There are definitely modern elements and clean lines that make the project feel more contemporary," Davin says.

The front door, the one guests use, opens to the formal living room and dining room. In this context, we are talking country formal, not black tie. "We had long conversations about how they were going to use this space," Davin says. "It's a room where you would have a big meal, like Thanksgiving dinner, then gather on the sofa and chairs."

Given the new-house-as-old-house mentality, the team installed a woodstove. "In a really old country house, this is perhaps what you have for heat, not a fireplace," Davin says.

The other end of the room is dominated by a spectacular view, and Davin didn't want the decor to get in the way. She selected a long draper's-style table (a long, narrow table that would have been used for cutting fabric in turn-of-the-century suit factories). Its metal legs are there but not there. Same for the skinny metal chairs with perforated backs that don't stop the eye on its way out to the hills and the grapevines that snake over them.

Davin likes the tabletop as much as the legs. "It's an English burled wood called pippy oak," she says. "To me, it feels light and airy."

The other side of the house has a more casual living space. "This room opens up to the kitchen, and it's their hangout space," Davin says. "It also opens to the pool, barbecue and outdoor seating area."

Here's how casual the room really is: The ottoman is upholstered for beings both two- and four-legged. "The dog usually sleeps here," she says. "Every bit of furniture and fabric in here is indestructible and dog friendly. In this space you have people coming in and out from the pool, and you don't want to be worrying about where you sit or step."

A small office is equipped with an L-shaped desk. Its pieces were custom designed by Davin, and she added a leather strap detail between the inverted V-shaped legs. The narrow shelves above one desktop are filled with the vintage nozzle and bottle collection of one of the owners. "I love these pieces," Davin says. "It's a collection that's really unique, and the old nozzles have a really pretty patina."

Upstairs, a pass-through to the master bedroom has become a small library space. There's a built-in daybed, which makes a great place for comfortable reading. A vintage library ladder allows the owners access to the books on the uppermost shelves.

"This is the only place in the house we have color on the walls," Davin says. "To me, it almost gives it a British feeling."

Nearly everything is weathered (what's another dent or scratch?) or bulletproof. "This house is a good example of how you achieve interiors whose materials are nearly indestructible, but still have it feel pulled together and elegant at the same time," Davin says.


// This article was originally published on Houzz.

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