Fall Under the Spell of This Northern California Wine Country Retreat

Fall Under the Spell of This Northern California Wine Country Retreat

By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo
Boasting LEED Silver status, this stunning, cedar-clad courtyard home in Sonoma County is deeply tied to its natural surroundings.

Situated in what was once known, according to native legend, as the Valley of the Moon, this stunning, contemporary home by San Francisco–based practice Butler Armsden Architects adopts the courtyard model popularized by the early architecture of the region, allowing this Sonoma County retreat to fully integrate into its environment and take advantage of the refuge provided by the valley. 

The home is clad in Alaskan yellow cedar—a durable, low-maintenance wood that weathers over time to turn a light gray—in order to blend in with the gray bark of the oaks. The vertical siding on the one-story volume takes on the visual rhythm of the surrounding trees and grasses. 

The three-acre site is located within a 37-acre parcel of dedicated open space, so the home is secluded in tranquil settings, surrounded by native oaks and redwoods.

A sliding wooden door marks the entrance to the interior courtyard of the home. The residence consists of three connected volumes of different heights wrapping around the center of the podium, and the spaces inside them carefully scaled: small enough for introspection, and large enough to take in the landscape.  Photo by Joe Fletcher

The home is composed of three connected volumes of different heights that wrap around the central courtyard. A two-story volume holds open living spaces and bedrooms for the clients and their two children, and features horizontal siding that anchors the home into the landscape. In contrast, vertical siding has been used on the adjacent single-story volume, which houses additional rooms to accommodate visiting relatives.

Large picture windows in the open living room frame the surrounding forest.

The house generates its own electricity and hot water, while also regulating internal temperature through long roof overhangs and strategic siting that captures the valley breezes. This combination of state-of-the-art technology and natural sustainability helped earn the home a LEED Silver designation.    

A dining area divides the open kitchen from the living room. 

A restrained material palette creates a tranquil atmosphere in the elegantly appointed open kitchen. 

Stairs lead to the second-level master suite. 

The natural surroundings permeate the home at every angle.

A tranquil nook allows the homeowner to practice yoga.

A sweeping expanse of glass spans the corner in the master suite, integrating a sense of the outdoors into the bedroom.

The master suite bathroom features an outdoor shower. 

The minimalist, cantilevered bunk beds are a modern interpretation of a traditional bunk room.

There are plenty of quiet spots for contemplation.

Butler Armsden placed the home on a poured-concrete platform, providing expansive views that reveal themselves only after passing through to the central courtyard of the house. 

Complemented by 5,600 square feet of outdoor space, the enclosed passage opens up to a central courtyard with a bocce court and a saltwater lap pool.

Perched on a forested stretch overlooking the Valley of the Moon, this family retreat is at once warm and embracing, while also being light and spacious. 

The poured concrete foundation is clearly visible when viewing the back of the home.

First floor plan

Second floor plan

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: Butler Armsden Architects, Lewis W. Butler
Builder/General Contractor: Thompson Suskind, Brad Suskin
Structural Engineer: Summit Engineering, Inc., Yi Yang
Landscape Design Company: Shades of Green, Ive Haugeland
Interior Design: Butler Armsden Architects, Glenda Flaim
Flooring: Amber Flooring, Amit Gabay


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