A love of Tuscan architecture was the inspiration for this home, which is nestled in a peaceful, vineyard-clad valley
One of the first steps in designing a new home is to decide on an architectural style. This may be dictated by the shape, size or location of the site, or alternatively your favored style may influence the piece of land that you choose.
A strong interest in Tuscan architecture and a large collection of Tuscan furniture, amassed over many years, provided the owners of the home featured here with a good starting point. The acquisition of a beautiful, warm, sheltered valley that was ideal for wine growing inspired owners Ross Stromberg and Lynda Guthrie to put their thoughts onto paper. “We have always been interested in Tuscan- and Spanish-style houses. We’ve been collecting furniture for some years, and I have loved this wine-growing area all my life. When we found this property, we already had a basic layout and plan in mind,” says Stromberg.
Architect Chuck Peterson was asked to convert the owners’ ideas into plans. “The Mediterranean concept was well-suited to the very hot and dry location of the house,” says Peterson. Heavy, 18in-thick, stucco walls,large porches and overhanging eaves on the side facing the afternoon sun help to keep the interior of the house cool and shady and are characteristic of this style. Multi-colored, natural clay tiles on the roof give it the appearance of being old and hand-made. Doors and window frames are all custom-made and finished with a wire brush to create a distressed, weather-beaten look. Three different stains layered on the wood give it a depth of color that looks as if it could have developed over time.
The earthy, natural shades used for the hand-troweled stucco exterior were picked from around the property. “We selected a dark stain for the eaves to match the natural stone around the entry area, and the yellow tones of the stucco pick up the color of the leaves on trees around the house,” says Peterson. Although the home is largely built on one level, a two-story tower defines the entry to the house, and adds to the Tuscan character of the exterior. The tower, with views across the vineyard and along the unspoiled valley, has become a quiet area for reading and relaxation.
Most of the interior living space is one large room with 15ft-high ceilings and hand-hewn, dark-stained timber beams – a look in keeping with the rustic Tuscan style of the exterior. Large fireplaces, rich wood furniture and trim details and soft, yellow-textured walls all add to this traditional ambiance. Covered porches wrap around three side of the living room and kitchen, helping to keep out the heat of the sun. The only area without a covered porch has a trellis instead.
“We did this so the owners can enjoy the winter sun in the living room. However, for protection from the hot summer sun, a beautiful wisteria vine grows over the trellis. When it dies back in the winter, it allows the sun back in,” says Peterson. On the opposite side of the living area, curtains on the outside edge of the porch call be pulled to block out the lower evening sun. Tucked around the corner out of view of the living areas to create privacy for the cook is the kitchen. Cabinetry is made from a heavily grained cherry wood that has been darkened to give it an aged look. “We chose concrete for the countertops in the kitchen because as a simple, natural product rather than a high-tech material, it suits the rustic look,” says Peterson. The master suite, with its own sitting area, bathroom and closet, opens onto a covered porch, as does the guest bedroom. Two offices in the house provide working space for the owners and when necessary can double as guest bedrooms. Additional sleeping accommodation for any extra guests is provided by permanent, comfortably appointed tents that have been riveted into place in one part of the garden. Black aggregate on the base of the lap pool and adjoining hot tub creates a natural appearance that blends in with the surrounding environment.