Sky HouseSonoma, Calfornia
In 1980, the client for this distinctive contemporary home visited Sonoma to celebrate the optioning of his first book. While hiking the hills of the southern Maycamas Mountains, he came upon a 280-acre piece of property – remote, rugged, without roads, water or electricity – with breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay in the distance. He purchased the property a week later, and over the following decades planted vineyards, staying in an existing cottage on the property until finally building a new home in 2020. He and his wife envisioned a small house, designed to feel effortlessly connected to the existing landscape.
The small, contemporary house, constructed with an earthy palette of rammed earth, glass and steel, is designed as a retreat, removed from the bustle of everyday life and embedded in the land. With just a single bedroom, the contemporary architecture has a quiet elegance that called for a similar approach to the landscape. The couple’s two rambunctious standard poodles, their desire for an extremely low maintenance landscape, and the need to blend seamlessly with the existing landscape led to a restrained planting palette in which texture reigns.
Corten steel bands in the architecture were carried into the landscape, leading across the gravel drive to steel and gravel steps connecting the guest parking area to the entry. Plantings of Desert Spoon and Blond Ambition Blue Grama Grass create an interesting play of light and shadow that glows in the late afternoon, while Silver Carpet provides a low-maintenance, dog-proof and walkable groundcover.
To preserve views of the home’s feature rammed earth walls, which ground the structure in the site, Roche+Roche employed low-lying plantings along the perimeter. Near the entry, a low window placed nearly at ground level provided an opportunity to create a focal point planter, visible from the interior and filled with plantings that shine year-round. Off the master bath, a sliding window wall opens to reveal a Zen garden composed of boulders hand-selected from the site, Blue Chalk Sticks and Silver Carpet, with specimen fruiting Olive trees and California native Globe Mallow in the background.
2022 AIA Redwood Empire Merit Award
Architecture: Asquared Studios
Construction: Annadel Builders
Landscape Construction: Carlos Landscape Incorporated
Photography: Eileen Roche Photography