Creative country house update

An everyday residence or a rural getaway? After a thoughtful remodel, this little house in downtown Sonoma combines the best of both

Country house update

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

Country house update

While living in rainy Seattle eight years ago, Josh Heiser and Steve Burns decided to make a change. “We thought, Where do we want to eventually end up? Why not go there now?” says Josh.

And so they did, heading to Sonoma. The prime getaway spot is justly famous for its enviable climate, dreamy grapevines-for-miles landscape, and notable wineries and restaurants. How, then, to keep that away-from-it-all vibe in a home that has to function as, well, a home?

The couple found a onetime cookshack, complete with shaky 1880s foundation and four layers of musty wallpaper, on a half-acre a few blocks from the main plaza. “The original structure was funky at best,” Josh adds. “But the lot was so great, the house was secondary.” That was then. After a thorough and thoughtful update, this is now.

Create the cozy

Fireplace, sink-in leather chair, and tapestry ottoman give a lodge-like feel to this corner of the 1,100-square-foot home. White walls and sisal carpeting keep the room from feeling too heavy.

Live outside the box

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

Live outside the box

The temperate Sonoma weather means the patio can be in constant use, extending the usable space of the house year-round.

Visual calm

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

Visual calm

During the remodel, Josh and Steve raised the kitchen ceiling to make the narrow kitchen feel roomier. The glory of a vacation home (no in-your-face must-do projects) is re-created with built-in cabinets and cubbies to stow appliances, dishware, and the stuff of everyday life.

Defined space

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

Defined space

Furniture groupings, like this casual dining setup in a windowed corner of the great room, help define discrete living spaces.

 

Private places

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

Private places

An open, studio-style floor plan in the areas used for dining, sitting, and cooking makes for easy entertaining, says Josh. “Dinner guests don’t want to leave.”

No walls divide the living area from the kitchen, but there are plenty of retreats throughout the house. The bedroom lies behind the wall hung with the star.

Smart space savers

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

Smart space savers

Formerly a second bedroom, this bathroom relies on space-saving strategies: antique redwood troughs in lieu of cabinets; a spa-like basket to keep towels handy.

Suburban farm

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Jess Chamberlain

Suburban farm

Along with the outdoor dining space, the front yard is home to a dozen chickens, raised vegetable beds, and an in-ground pool (welcome during Sonoma’s hot summer afternoons) as well as a fountain.

Three large raised beds overflow with produce almost year-round. In midwinter, the harvest includes mustard, kale, cabbage, onions, and (hard to believe, but it’s true) strawberries.

A lively barter economy has grown up: For instance, Josh and Steve trade eggs for a neighbor’s homemade biscotti. “Our tomatoes didn’t do so well last year,” says Josh, “but Mark across the street had some really good ones.”

Printed from:
http://www.sunset.com/home/before-after/country-house-update-00418000074492/