location: Healdsburg, California, USA | architecture: Feldman Architecture | interior design: by clients | photography: Joe Fletcher

Forty acres of undeveloped rolling countryside was the site for this modest yet distinctly different build, which from the outset was planned to be visionary but not overwhelming. Overall, the result answers to a higher calling: not a primary residence, but rather a prospect and refuge.

Comprised of perpendicular bars atop a hill overlooking the village of Healdsburg, this home offers both ample social space ideal for entertaining, with the privacy of a rural retreat.

Recalls architect Jonathan Feldman: ‘The clients were looking for a very refined, modern ‘cabin’ on their rustic and remote property. They wanted a retreat that would immerse them in the dramatic landscape. They also had a love for architecture, refined materials and details.

‘The essence of this house is the large, two-storey glass façade, which focused the interior spaces on the dramatic southerly views. The large, movable glass panels – with their thin frames and careful integration into the building – set the minimalist tone, while the raw concrete and plain wood walls gave a simple and warm materiality to what could have otherwise been an austere composition.’

The taller section runs along the ridge of the hill and houses the home’s great room. Under lofty ceilings and a simple shed overhanging roof, it’s filled with light and vistas seen through the tall glass walls. Four oversized glass panels open dramatically on each side, transforming the space into an outdoor pavilion whose flush concrete floors extend into a poolside patio to the north and a terrace featuring a fire pit to the south; this provides comfortable outdoor areas for both warm and cool weather. With these doors drawn up, the site offers one sweeping, continuous view from the pool, through the great room, and down into the distant village below.

Says the architect: ‘The client wanted an indoor / outdoor connection, which was achieved by installing the unique, vertical and counterbalanced lift doors by Renlita. The main doors tilt outward and fold back into the ceiling, allowing for the landscape to fully enter the space.’

Designed for clients who enjoy entertaining, the great room features a small, efficient kitchen – with a larger working kitchen ideal for caterers tucked discretely away. The perforated panels in the room’s ceiling that absorb sound during large parties, and the discrete stone strips across the floor, delineate zones within the space. These – without visual barriers – act as subtle details that add both refinement and functionality to the great room.

From its intersection with the great room, the home’s second wing extends towards the north and becomes incrementally more private as it flows from the garage to a media room opening onto the pool, and to the master bedroom at its rear. The master bed looks out through another oversized, operable glass panel onto the rolling meadow beyond, establishing a visual connection with the land in the first and last moments of each day. Just a short walk away, a guesthouse extends the wing’s path down the hill and offers an additional level of privacy.

With dark-stained cedar siding and low stone landscape walls that anchor the building, this house offers a modest and thoughtful response to both its site and the client’s needs.

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