Nestled in a beautiful property along a creek in rural Sonoma County, the design and construction of this off-the-grid homestead take great measures to ensure a harmonious fit with minimal impact on both the specific and global landscape, providing a sustainable frame for living and raising twin daughters.
While the property offered several possible building sites, solar analysis led to a south-sloping open hillside dubbed 'Big Sky.' Much of the property is shaded by the ridge south of the creek, but 'Big Sky' has ample access to sun throughout the year. The western edge is tucked in to mature oak trees, giving sun protection during summer afternoons.
Seconds and overstock Heath tile were collected by the owners for use throughout the house. Installers and the design team worked together to create the tile patterns to make use of the variety of shapes and colors.
The kitchen transparently links the bars of living space and bedrooms - glass-backed open shelving keeps the space bright.
Radiant-heat in the concrete floors, along with the Watershed Block hearth and wood stove provide a boost of heat on cool, cloudy days.
The highly visible living room roof is planted with sedums, blending into the landscape - other roofs are topped by gently curving corrugated metal.
Watershed Block earth masonry retaining walls limited the number of concrete deliveries at the remote location, and provided a warm, variegated texture.
Live-edge oak harvested on site was used as both structure and guardrail at the central stair to the bedroom wing.
Feature windows frame views out to the landscape.
Above the poolhouse, a studio for art and essential oils opens out onto edible gardens.
Douglas Fir planks and flooring were harvesting on-site and used throughout the stairwell and upper levels.
Much of the the timber was sustainably-harvested on-site, or by their neighbor, including site-build laminated timber to accommodate the gently curving roofs.
The master shower features views across the creek to the ridge beyond.
The homestead is designed as a series of east-west running volumes, roughly paralleling the topography and stepping up the hill. Boulders discovered during excavation were located throughout the gardens.
The tight, well-insulated building envelope eliminates the need for cooling, and highly efficient lighting and appliances minimize electric needs.
Selecting the 'Big Sky' site allowed the driveway to be routed further from the creek, and eliminated a ranch road that had been channeling rainwater runoff into the creek.
Curving timbers were manufactured on-site, and used to support the curving corrugated metal roofs.
Rice straw bale, sourced from a local farmer, were placed on top of the Watershed Block walls, sequestering carbon while insulating the home.