After living in the city for over a decade, chef and food educator Hollie Greene Rottman and her husband Jim yearned for change. Eager to create a place where they could step away from their busy lives to reconnect with nature, the couple asked Mork-Ulnes Architects for assistance. And just as expected, the award-winning firm had the solution.
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Sited in Sonoma, California, the Triple Barn house serves as a full-time retreat for the couple, as well as a serene place where they can entertain friends and family. Encompassed by nature, yet conveniently located near town, the 1,750-square-foot home features a professional kitchen that Hollie uses as a cooking laboratory.
Inspired by the rural building typology typical of the area, the team used metal cladding reminiscent of the iron-red soil found at the home's rocky hillside location. "The initial challenge of the project, which really shaped the form of the building, was how to embrace the very steep slope and views of the site while creating access for fire trucks in this wildfire prone area," says Casper Mork-Ulnes, founder of the firm.
"We chose Cor-Ten steel as the cladding material for its natural resistance to fire, as well as its resonance to agricultural buildings of the Sonoma Valley," Mork-Ulnes says. "The natural soil of the Sonoma hillside is very iron rich, which gives it a rusted color, making the house tie back to earth."
The home overlooks panoramic views from the Sonoma Valley to Marin County. Its rough concrete base serves as a carport and entryway which guides visitors up the stairs to the main residence.
In contrast to its iron-red, rustic exterior, the property features a crisp white interior. Large windows and floor-to-ceiling glass doors create a light-filled atmosphere.
To add warmth and tactility to the residence, the architects made the floors and cabinetry from Douglas fir treated with lye and white oil.
"My favorite feature about the house is the way it feels like one continuous room, yet at the same time there are three zones existing under three roofs, each serving a different function," the architect notes. "While this was a very challenging project, it was the open-mindedness and positive attitudes of our clients that led to us being able to solve the unique challenges with uniques answers, all on a relatively tight budget."
Reflecting on her new residential retreat, Hollie notes: "The house turned out to be more private than we expected. It truly is a hideaway. It feels like we are in a world away from the hustle and bustle."
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Builder: Nima Construction Co.
Structural Engineer: Strandberg Engineering
Civil Engineer: Hogan Land Services
Landscape Design: Terremoto Landscape
Interior Design: Lexie Mork-Ulnes Interior Design
Cabinetry Design: Israel Parra