This new construction home highlights the power of chemistry. When building from the ground up, many things can go wrong in terms of architecture, interior design, and the clients’ goals—call it too many cooks in the kitchen. But this property in Calistoga, California had formidable synergy every step of the way. The homeowners, a Bay Area couple with grown kids, wanted to create a family retreat, a gathering place where they could spend time with their kids who are in college. They fell in love with this piece of land and called on Wade Design Architects and Jennifer Robin Interiors to create their forever home. 

“The goal was to create a family retreat and an escape from city life for the couple to relax,” architect Luke Wade says. It was determined early on that the exterior observation deck would be a key element in the design plans—serving as a spot for yoga with friends or to stargaze at night. “This home is built to take in the mountains, the views,” he says. “It’s a house that is quite closed off from the front and then opens dramatically in the back terrace to the view. We studied ranch and cottage photos, early 20th century California and East Coast craftsman cottages for inspiration, in particular the sense of scale and detailing.”

For the interiors, designer Jennifer Robin called on the sweeping views and surrounding nature as key sources of inspiration, fusing natural materials with an earthy palette to honor (but not compete with) those views. “Once in a while you come across a client that you are instantly connected to via shared passions and aesthetics,” Jennifer says. “This is that client! The wife and I—kindred yogi and animal rescue advocates—were in sync with the role that the interiors would play in this home from the very beginning of the project. Together with her husband, we all shared a similar ‘home as sanctuary’ philosophy and set out to create a calming and relaxing atmosphere throughout the home.”

With the homeowner’s barefoot indoor/outdoor lifestyle in mind, they chose concrete floors for durability—a choice that could have resulted in a cold and unwelcoming space. “Our designs needed to be extra warm with layered materials and precise scale to counter this,” Jennifer says. “For example, the materials in the great room are a mixture of wire brushed cedar on the ceilings, extra-large rope light fixtures, a woven wool rug, natural stone, a custom reclaimed wood coffee table and maple slab dining table by Statsky Design, and rift sawn oak cabinetry—all of which keep the feeling of the space comfortable for everyday living.” The result is modern and fresh, with soulful details that pay homage to the clients’ kind and down-to-earth demeanor. 

Another key element to the project’s success was finding the right balance. “We spent quite a bit of time tuning the scale, volume and natural light of the main space that ties the living, dining and kitchen areas together,” Luke recalls. “During the study, we dropped the scale of the kitchen and increased the height of the ceilings. There was a lot of work to avoid the scale of the space becoming too overwhelming. We also took great care to protect the west side of the home, situating it well with respect to the sun—the light in there is magical.” 

The clients couldn’t be happier. “When we first walked into the great room, we were both overcome with an overwhelming appreciation for how perfectly executed everything was and how incredibly welcoming the space felt,” the homeowner shares. “We were also surprised how much it already seemed like ‘our home’ and not simply a beautifully decorated house. The team carefully listened to our wishes and translated them back to us in a way that deeply resonated.”

See more details in the slideshow.