Labor of love

The idyllic vineyards and vistas of Northern California's wine country inspire a dream house built against the odds

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WHAT THEY LEARNED 

Once a complete neophyte to the design process, Ellen Riendeau acted as the home's interior designer. "I started by looking through magazines for products I liked, then shopped online because I didn't have time to visit showrooms," she says. Here are three of her tips.

Create a color palette from nature
Leaves, rocks, and other natural objects from around the property inspired Riendeau's choice of furnishings and finishes. The bamboo floors reflect the golden hues of the surrounding grasses; the rich tones of the cabinetry and sofa were inspired by madrone and manzanita bark.

Don't impede the view
The bench in the corner of the living room, the low-backed chairs and sofas, the platform bed in the master suite, and the airy shower-stall doors were all chosen to preserve the vineyard panoramas. And instead of pricier glass tile for the shower, "it turned out that plain white tile worked best, because it didn't compete," Riendeau explains.

Invest in the things you touch
"Spend more on the stuff you come into contact with frequently ― drawer pulls, doorknobs, the floor," Riendeau says. "Also give yourself little luxuries in the areas where you spend the most time ― for me it's the kitchen, since I love to cook."

Designer: James Trewitt; architect: E.J. Meade; both of Arch 11, Boulder, CO (303/546-6868).

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