When a retired San Francisco couple was looking to slowly transition from their urban lives in the city to a slower pace in Wine Country, they set out to transform a once-weekend home into a permanent residence in Sonoma County. Set on 8 acres and perched atop a hill, the property offered 360-degree views of the valley and all of the area’s natural beauty. That said, the Mediterranean-style house was originally built in the 1990s and was due for some updates. They called on Emily Mughannam of Fletcher Rhodes for the design. 

“What began as a notion to update some dated furniture swiftly evolved into a grander vision to modernize their 1990s Mediterranean villa,” Emily recalls. “Though the floor plan remained promising, every surface, fixture, and furnishing cried out for renewal. After months of deliberation and selecting materials, the project finally commenced in the spring of 2023. Together, with our studio’s creative direction and the clients’ enthusiastic collaboration, the transformation began, and Rob from R.A. Wilson Construction, a local Sonoma contractor, was entrusted with bringing our design to life.”

The entry sets the tone for the overall aesthetic. “The house started dark, dated and a bit dreary,” the designer recalls. “We knew we needed to update the entry door with an incredible arched metal French door. That truly began to set the tone for the rest of the home.” They lightened the walls and painted the dark-paneled wood, which helped to expand the space—while other original details were enhanced. “We chose to keep some of the original old wood beams but stained them a darker color to elevate them and remove the orange tones.”

The living room received new vertical windows, which flank the fireplace and embrace the views beyond. The fireplace was redone in plaster for a clean and timeless silhouette. The coffee table was a custom piece by local woodworker Sons of Salvage, using a reclaimed wood slab. “Our clients often find themselves sitting in the window seat with a good book, soaking up the views,” Emily shares. 

The dining room is through a wide archway, with a large table by Jacob May and custom chairs from Lee Industries, allowing the couple to host big dinner parties and large family gatherings. There was no need to overhaul the location of the kitchen, but it did call for more storage and updated finishes. “The island is brand new, we expanded the size, used stained oak and a beautiful natural stone countertop,” the designer explains. The breakfast nook is a client favorite, and Fletcher Rhodes opted to select a cozy dining sofa instead of individual chairs. “It invites people in for long leisurely conversations. As the day progresses, the clients often find themselves having their wine in this same spot. The afternoon light shines ever so beautifully into the side doors there which creates amazing sunsets while sipping their favorite wines.”

For the bedroom and bathrooms, a similar palette connects the public and private areas of the home. The primary bedroom is cozy yet inviting, with a big, upholstered bed and large nightstands. Emily says the primary bathroom is the pride and joy of the build team. “It’s a small space packed with our clients every wish,” she beams. “There’s a new large picture window over the free-standing tub, and a luxurious shower with unlacquered brass plumbing fixtures. We opted for a bold Arto Tile heated terracotta floor in a bold checkered pattern. Adding light green wood paneling to the wainscoting really grounds the room and makes it even cozier.” The vanity was fabricated by Sonoma Cabinetry Co. with a rounded edge Calacatta Monet marble countertop. The powder room has similar beauty and offers a peek-a-boo window that overlooks the pool and beyond. “We plastered the walls with venetian plaster in a dark moody color and selected an antique stone wall mounted sink as the statement piece,” Emily shares. 

It was an eight-month project that had a few delays, but the clients were happy to wait for the end result. “Everything takes longer than expected these days, so that by far is the hardest part! Patience and realistic timelines,” Emily reflects. “The crews worked so hard to make everything perfect for the clients and it shows.”