Hand in HandAuthor:Abigail Stone
Contrary to popular belief, it’s limitation, not freedom, that breeds creativity. Wade Design Architects’ Luke Wade would agree. “Reflecting on the many remodel projects I’ve worked on, the best find success by honoring the existing house, rather than having a mindset of imposition,” he shares. “If harmonious spaces are a goal, you have to make your peace with what’s not changing, and bring creativity and vision to a blended outcome.” Witness this Healdsburg home his firm recently tackled for a family who dreamed of a place that would serve as a retreat from their busy lives. “We walked the site together shortly after they had purchased the property,” he recalls. “There really is no replacement for meeting in person to align visions and see opportunity.”
The 1990s era Mediterranean-style home was closed off from the outdoors, completely ignoring the views. Its interior was dark, disjointed and uninviting. “Remedying the entry sequence, connecting the interior to the exterior and unifying the interiors were our three primary objectives,” Wade notes. Interior designer Jennifer Robin concurs. “The home had incredible wine country views,” she says, remembering her first visit. “It was obvious these needed to take center stage so opening up the home to embrace its location was a central goal,” she says. “Because the home would primarily be used for weekends and vacations, we wanted to create a casual and barefoot-friendly environment that immediately telegraphed rest, relaxation and escape.” Interior design, she observes, is a balancing act. “When done well, there’s harmony and complement between the architecture, landscape and interiors,” she stresses. “My philosophy as a designer is all about creating cohesion so the goal here was a natural palette that didn’t compete with the landscape yet felt grounding for the homeowners, holding them in comfort.”
Wade looked to the historic adobe structures of California and New Mexico, with their exposed heavy timber beams and their plaster walls, for inspiration in reimagining the house. “This choice blended well with the home’s existing clay tile roof,” he says. He reconfigured the awkward interiors, moving a second floor walkway to one side and adding a loft, creating an airy double height living room with a vaulted ceiling and an intimate formal dining room. An office was absorbed into the kitchen, doubling its size. He banished the uninviting low-slung entry porch, replacing it with a timber trellis that flooded the home with light and confirmed its indoor-outdoor connection. So too do the home’s new large steel-framed windows and doors. “The views overlooking the vineyards are stunning, and letting the home open up to embrace the outdoors and the new pool gave the interior spaces a new point of view,” Wade points out. “We also added a new outdoor room next to the house.” Perched above the pool and designed with three open sides, it provides shade during the summer; motorized roll-down insect screens allow for its instant conversion into a screen porch.
That successful blend of old and new also threads through Robin’s work on the interiors. “They clients had a handful of sentimental antiques they wanted us to incorporate,” says Robin. “We always welcome this request; the addition of antiques adds patina and soul and, when combined with new pieces, always results in something interesting.”
While the clients took an active role in the home’s design, they were still astounded with the result. “We always say that solutions are in the collaboration,” says Wade, who praises the clients and Robin as well as Arterra Landscape Architects and builder, Wright Residential. “A great outcome requires everyone communicating and respecting each others efforts.”