Showing OffAuthor:Anh-Minh Le
Past favorites and fresh innovations combine as a designer creates the ultimate platform for his work
“This is really a showcase of Martin’s best work over the years,” says Chris Bergin of Martin Kobus. “This” refers to a property in Healdsburg that he and Martin Kobus—who are a couple as well as business partners— recently completed. And the word “showcase” is especially apt here, as myriad elements in the project harken back to Martin Kobus Home’s contributions to the prestigious San Francisco Decorator Showcase, which the firm has participated in four times.
Bergin and Kobus previously owned a place in Alexander Valley and in 2017, they purchased a 3.25-acre Sonoma County vineyard now known as Kobus Estate Wines, where they built a 1,200-square-foot main house and a 400-square-foot guest house. “It sounds like a small footprint,” says Kobus, “but the ceilings are 22 feet. So there’s a lot of volume and height.”
In addition to serving as a weekend retreat—the pair’s primary residence is in Marin—the new dwelling can be considered a proof of concept, chock-full of custom-designed furniture and state-of-the-art features. “We want to show developers, other people in the industry and clients what we can do,” says Kobus. Adds Bergin: “That’s why you see a lot of different details and materials—things that will hopefully spark interest.”
The main house contains a primary suite, a powder room, a lounge and open-plan kitchen and a dining and sitting room, while the guest house offers an extra bedroom and bathroom. This being Wine Country, the indoor-outdoor lifestyle is in full effect. An alfresco dining area, appointed with a Hestan kitchen, boasts a motorized, louvered pergola: Angle the slats overhead for shade from the sun or close them completely to keep out the rain.
Reflecting on the two-and-a-half-year effort, Bergin notes that “there are things we did for the first time and there are references to things done in past showcases.” In the kitchen, for example, above the 13-foot-long marble island, the pendant lights are reminiscent of those in a library that Kobus conceived for the 2017 San Francisco Decorator Showcase. Each ring is outfitted with an LED strip, with the largest at 38 inches in diameter. Another fixture, illuminating the lounge, is similar to that in a 2019 showcase music room this time, done in bronze instead of brass. And the dining table is a re-creation of a piece from the event’s 2016 turn.
As for first-time endeavors, the lounge alone includes some showstoppers. A 14-foot-tall wall is sheathed in white marble pieces, varying in depth from three to four inches. “It’s like a puzzle,” says Kobus. “It’s all these little shapes put together. When the light hits it, it creates a beautiful glow.” And the room’s red penshell bar, about 14 feet high and eight feet wide, delivers the wow factor, too. The fabrication process—also used for a pair of chairs nearby—entails flattening the penshell to yield a veneer that is then lacquered.
Gadgets and technology permeate the residence. The Arcadia doors and windows are covered with motorized Lutron shades, that are controlled by a Lutron system, as are the lights and surround sound. In the primary bathroom, a touchscreen in the ThermaSol steam shower manages the multisensory experience.
Although Bergin and Kobus liken the Healdsburg house to a designer showhouse, with partnerships undertaken with certain vendors, the former has some notable advantages. There was no committee or homeowner to answer to and they were dealing with ground-up construction rather than a century-old estate and the many hindrances that can come with that. “This was an opportunity for Martin to let it all hang out, to really do whatever he wanted to do,” says Bergin. So was this more fun to design than a showcase? “Yes,” says Kobus. “For sure.”
SHOP THE LOOK – Still dreaming of sipping wine at Kobus Gallery? Get the look here.
In the primary bathroom, Salvatori Pietra d’Avola stone in raw form from DA VINCI MARBLE dances up the shower walls balanced by a honed Salvatori Pietra d’Avola stone on the floor. The dark-hued stone continues the edgy, modern design direction found throughout the gallery. davincimarble.com
Known and respected for their luxury space-management solutions, CALIFORNIA CLOSETS installed an innovative and stylish custom wardrobe design in the primary closet, creating a dream storage space for Kobus and guests to hang their duds. californiaclosets.com
Aside from wine, Healdsburg is all about relishing in the outdoors and food. Martin Kobus worked with PURCELL MURRAY and luxury appliance brand Hestan on curating a superb culinary experience at the Gallery by installing Hestan’s Outdoor Living Suite on a deck that overlooks the vineyards. Inside, their black-hued wine fridge column and 48-inch dual-fuel range present maximum style and efficiency. purcellmurray.com
Nestled inside the Salvatori Pietra d’Avola stone wall from Da Vinci Marble is a ThermaTouch Smart Touchscreen Control by THERMASOL that manages all aspects of the shower and steam experience, from desired steam duration and temperature to audio, lighting and more. With built-in Bluetooth®, the ThermaTouch Smart Touchscreen Control is now compatible with Alexa and offers 360° control for an immersive digital shower experience. thermasol.com
One of the most exclusive features inside the gallery is the Cube Mixer Tap by ZIP. Sourced from Purcell Murray, the water-filtering system fits seamlessly into any custom counter while offering the purest water. zipwater.com