A Splash of Chardonnay
Don't be fooled by that quaint gazebo smack in the center of tiny Healdsburg, California.
Craig Kellogg -- Interior Design, 11/1/2011 4:49:00 PM
Don't be fooled by that quaint gazebo smack in the center of tiny Healdsburg, California. Only lately have chic, big-city refugeesbegun to outnumber the Hell's Angels on motorcycles in this rough-hewn corner of Sonoma wine country. Houses range from timeworn cottages, built 100 years ago, to assorted mid-century ranch-burgers. Lately, ersatz Tuscan estates have become the de facto vernacular. Classic modernism has never made inroads.
Nevertheless, architect Julie Dowling clearly had it in mind when she and her husband, Steven Platzman, crossed the Golden Gate from San Francisco and continued an hour up the coast to acquire 22 acres in Healdsburg. The property lacked electrical power, running water, and a septic system and required a ½-mile driveway-but compensated with a panorama of the Russian River Valley. Closer views embraced redwood forest studded with maples, oaks, firs, and the evergreen Pacific madrones that, each autumn, serve up a feast of
fieryberries for the scrub jays.
"Something wholly contemporary is most relevant to this kind of site," Dowling says. Indeed, the land is extremely hospitable to clean-lined architecture that looks to nature for inspiration. To develop that idea, Dowling phoned her New Jersey-based twin sister, Leslie-theother half of Dowling Studios.
"We've been finishing each other's sentences our whole lives, so we can pass projects back and forth," California's Dowling says.
The Healdsburg house is a bold yet sustainable weekend pavilion. Setting her sights on LEED Platinum certification, subsequently granted, she edited out all extraneous elements. That process yielded a slim rectangular footprint at 2,240 square feet. It's nearly as long as the lap pool in the backyard.
Knot-free cedar planks clad the exterior, including a parapet that rings the roof to conceal its heat-reflecting white PVC and myriad solar panels. Some of them warm the water for the pool, while the rest of them generate electrical power. Excess is fed into the municipal grid, which means a little pocket change piles up when no one is around.
Shoji-style insulated fiberglass panels in the roof bring sunlight into the windowless bathrooms. In the bedrooms,
8-by-12-foot glass doors slide completely away, into the wall. Noting the abundant wildlife, however, Dowling warns against falling asleep without shutting them. The transoms, fitted with screens, can be left open. Alternately, the ecological HVA C system pulls cool night air inside and filters it.
The master suite, taking up about a quarter of the total square footage, is at one end. At the other, two additional bedrooms share a jack-and-jill bathroom. The plan centers on an open living-dining area and kitchen that, in turn, center on a gas fireplace with a surround of matte gray ceramic tile.
Flooring in the public space is walnut planks, kitchen cabinetry veneered in rift-sawn oak. Walls are white. "It's a blank slate, so your focus is outside," Dowling says. Sliding glass doors face the pool.
Dowling's ultraclean aesthetic carried through to white upholstery throughout, plus the bedrooms' oatmeal-toned carpet of domestic wool. For color and graphic punch, the couple turned to contemporary painting and photography-a natural for Platzman, who's an art dealer. (His gallery is called Addison Fine Arts.) However, the large pink abstract canvases in a bedroom turn out to be the work of a 6-year-old daughter whom Dowling describes as a conscientious student of Mark Rothko.
Hell's Angels or no, the new Healdsburg is heavenly.
Photography by Matthew Millman.
DESIGN WITHIN REACH: PICNIC TABLE, BENCHES.
CHRISTOPHE DELCOURT STUDIO: TABLE (DINING AREA).
MODERNICA: PENDANT FIXTURES (DINING AREA, KITCHEN).
BLU DOT: CHAIRS (DINING AREA); BED (BEDROOM).
KNOLL: TABLE, CHAIR, FOOTREST (LIVING AREA).
B&B ITALIA: OTTOMANS.
MAHARAM: STRIPED PILLOW FABRIC.
MERIDA MERIDIAN: CUSTOM RUG.
MIELE: COOKTOP, OVEN, MICROWAVE, COFFEEMAKER (KITCHEN).
INTERNATIONAL ART PROPERTIES: PLANTERS (EXTERIOR).
ANN SACKS: SINK FITTINGS (BATHROOM).
DURAVIT: SINK, VANITY.
SPEC CERAMICS: TILE.
MODÉNATURE: STOOL (BEDROOM).
EARTH WEAVE CARPET MILLS: CARPET.
FLEETWOOD WINDOWS & DOORS: CUSTOM WINDOWS, DOORS.
GILLERAN ENERGY MANAGEMENT: SUSTAINABILITY CONSULTANT.
MKM & ASSOCIATES: STRUCTURAL ENGINEER.
DAVIS ENERGY GROUP: MECHANICAL ENGINEER.
HOGAN LAND SERVICES: CIVIL ENGINEER.
KEN ROSE CABINETRY (415-669-7760): WOODWORK.
DEXTER ESTATE LANDSCAPES: LANDSCAPING CONTRACTOR.
PAUL WHITE CONSTRUCTION: GENERAL CONTRACTOR.