A Minimalist House Stands Out in a Wild Landscape

This Napa Valley residence by Feldman Architecture contrasts glass and concrete with evergreens and grasses.
Text by
Cullen Ormond

"Our clients told us they never wanted to miss another sunrise," said Jonathan Feldman, partner at San Francisco-based Feldman Architecture. He, alongside a small production team from his firm that included Associate Daniel Holbrook and Project Manager Brett Moyer, captured this lofty aspiration by building a glass-walled home cradled within the hilly area of Healdsburg, California. 

The newly retired homeowners have a strong affinity for the outdoors, each with their own responsibilities: the wife growing an on-site production garden and the husband maintaining the property. Their shared appetency for cultivating the land reinforced Feldman’s decision to construct the home primarily of glass. It was a decision that did bring some challenges, though: "It required a tremendous amount of precision and planning," notes Feldman. But it also garnered the most reward. 

Three double-height glass walls, composed of windows and sliders, allow the interior and exterior spaces to blend together. The glass facade lets the surrounding views, including the lengthy pool, surrounding greenery, and Mount Saint Helena beyond, take center stage. Rounded, double-height steel columns that support the corrugated roof and balcony are thin enough to not disrupt the scenery. The residence appears to be floating on the hillside but is actually fixed to the site by two thick concrete forms bookending the structure. 

The house's essential nature is a  juxtaposition: thin glass versus heavy concrete, blackened steel against bleached wood, and a minimalist structure anchored within the lush greenery. "The client wanted a glassy modern cabin in the woods that immersed them in nature and views of the Healdsburg hills," Feldman says. "As minimalists, they also wanted the architecture and materiality to be rich and provide warmth." 

Bleached Douglas fir and white Carrara marble offset the monochromatic look of the concrete floors throughout the home, while accents of bronze and Claro walnut wood brighten the space. All elements of the neutral palette inside were carefully considered to ensure that the home brought serenity to the homeowners and all who visit. "At its core, the inspiration for the home was creating a space for the couple to enjoy both the beauty around them and the charms of honest living," says Feldman. 

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