Location: Petaluma, CA
Program: Multi-structure modernist family compound
Net pEUI: 10.79
Area: Main house 4430sf + 1010sf garage
Area: Guest house 836sf + 1812sf storage & garage
Images: James Leasure / MA+DS
General Contractor: Evenich Construction
Structural Engineer: KOC Engineering
Civil Engineer: DeBolt Civil Engineering

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Petaluma Pastoral Media Coverage:
Architect Magazine

Petaluma Pastoral

Set on 4.5 acres of rolling pastureland in Sonoma County, this two-building composition explores ideas of background/foreground, entry sequence, and arrival. It also explores modern interpretations of traditional rural architypes. 

The property at the end of a long narrow private road is entered through a simple gate at the bottom of the site. Glancing upward, a curvilinear cedar clad wall recalls utilitarian water structures and provides an identifiable landmark for visitors. The wall encloses a one-bedroom 800 square foot guest house, three car garage, and music studio. 

The driveway ascends past this curvilinear structure to reveal the orthogonal forms of the main house poised above. The exterior materials are an earth-toned palette combining natural cedar siding, warm white stucco, and dark galvanized metal for windows, doors and deck railings.  

The driveway continues its winding ascent past a grove of Olive trees to a motor court near the top of the site. Exiting their automobile, visitors climb a final exterior staircase along the east facade to the sheltered front door with dramatic views back down the hill to the pastureland beyond. Entering the foyer in the middle of the plan, the family area of primary suite and office are zoned to the right and public spaces to the left. Entering the living room with its 14’ ceilings, the panorama to the south and east explodes into view and a second floor wraps the southern and eastern facades, inviting views and connecting the house to its sloped site. 

The ground floor contains a private two-bedroom apartment with its own expansive shaded terraces and a three car garage. A home elevator connects the two levels as part of the home’s age-in-place strategy. 

Energy efficiency is also of paramount importance with high efficiency heating and cooling systems, heavily insulated walls and roofs, overhangs studied to optimize shading and solar collection, studied cross ventilation, EV chargers, and more than 10KwH of photo-voltaic panels.  

In some respects, the project harkens back to a time of landed estates with multiple structures, controlled approach and even a small vineyard. It offers private living, but also very public spaces for receiving and entertaining visitors. Reflecting the values and lifestyle of its occupants, however, its architectural vocabulary is contemporary, low maintenance and practical. Like the simple utilitarian rural buildings that it seeks to emulate, the home design is a direct expression of both its functional and symbolic design program.