Nestled in scenic Northern California, this outdoorsy home embraces its surroundings. To view more compact houses, pick up our November issue dedicated to small, sensible living.
New York firm Studio Joseph was approached by a husband and wife, both scientists, who wanted to build a compact, off-the-grid home on their 25-acre property in Sonoma that reflected their passions: maintaining their olive orchards, bee-keeping, and other activities that take advantage of California’s climate. “They wanted the dwelling to be one with the landscape,” says architect Wendy Evans Joseph. “Our goal was to make a home that was as much about the indoors as the outdoors.” Working carefully to leave the site’s foliage undisturbed, her team installed new water lines along existing paths. A custom solar array powers the entire property. Anchored by a series of concrete walls that splay into the hillside, the 850-square-foot home is focused on nature. Each of its three levels has an indoor and outdoor function: The entry-level bedroom and bathroom connect to a balcony, a half-level down, the kitchen leads to a deck for alfresco dining, and the living room features a seating alcove that looks out onto the orchard.