This project came with a Manifesto; the young family of four had spent their time on site, done their homework, and knew what they were after. The 7.5 acres of sloping oak woodland in the Carneros appellation of Napa Valley included about three acres of reasonably level open land on top of a knoll with sweeping 360 views of vineyards. The written document and accompanying imagery spoke more to the feel and use of the property than to specifics. To balance their City life, they dreamed of a camp or deconstructed compound for family and friends, that encouraged the adventure of moving from one activity to the next. In their words, ‘light, human scale, simple but sophisticated, warm, durable, not fussy, low maintenance, environmentally sensitive (as passive as can be), and looks better with age’.
They saw modern architecture that spoke to the local agricultural vernacular, with spaces that blurred the boundary between indoor and out. A magical place for their young girls to run, swim, swing and bounce their way through their childhood, and for they and their adult friends to enjoy relaxed downtime with casual outdoor dining, poolside lounging, and vineyard views.
The program ultimately included four buildings: the main residence, a guest house, a pool house and a carport, largely set in a landscape of new and existing Oaks, Maples, Madrones and California Pepper Trees in hydro-seeded meadows of Slender Grass and Purple Needlegrass, with accents of Queen Anne’s Lace, white California Poppies, and Matijila Poppies. Activities and destinations include a largely hidden tennis court, pool and spa, outdoor kitchen with Santa Maria grill, play lawn, in-ground trampoline, horse shoes pitch, bocce court, and custom playhouse in the fruit orchard, all connected by casual paths mowed into the taller meadows. A custom bench swing with reversible back allows adults to choose from the many beautiful views.
Architecture: Nick Noyes Architects
Construction: Tim Agapoff
Landscape Installation: Dexter Estate Landscapes
Photography: Eileen Roche Photography