Thursday 23 Aug 2012


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Renovation, restoration and preservation of a residential building

1860's Sonoma County California completed  May 2012.

 Our firm brings a big picture view to the indoor and outdoor spaces we design with a love for creating inspired places that integrate seamlessly with a homeowner's lifestyle.  Influenced by the homeowner's world travels and eclectic collection of antiques, we set out to create a very personalized design to meet their desires.  At the center of the house was the direct connection between the inside kitchen and the exterior garden for a truly "farm to table" retreat.

The homeowners purchased a historic structure that was originally part of the General Vallejo Estate, built in the 1860's for General Vallejo's granddaughter.   The other two buildings of the original estate are now a wine country destination restaurant and a State of California Historic Park. Gustave Carlson Design was hired to preserve the inherent beauty of the building and adorn it with appropriately designed additions to accommodate a large family and weekend guests.  Many smaller additions had been added over time since 1860 and part of the design process was to uncover and rediscover the spirit of the building and the landscapes true capability.  GCD completely renovated the 1860's house with an addition creating a 6500 SF Main House, and designed new outbuildings including a pool pavilion and pool, a guest house, a wine cellar, and a carriage house.  The local farm vernacular of Sonoma County served as inspiration for these hip roofed structures.

Upon construction, the 25-acre site contained a large amount of buried rock. We took advantage of this excess material, crushing the rock into gravel to repurpose into rammed earth walls. Rammed earth (tapial: as seen in Spain, pise; as seen in France) is an environmentally sound construction technique forming gravel, earth, lime and chalk into walls. The rammed earth on the Pool Pavilion and the Guest House structures compliment the 1860's clapboard sided architecture of the renovated historic wood framed main house.   Rammed earth walls create a uniquely textured wall surface and were used for the interior walls of some of the rooms, giving a new interpretation of an old world 1860's feel, in a new environmentally friendly way.   These thermally massive walls retain a cooler summer ambient temperature and require no air conditioning during the hot summer months of Wine Country.

A large open pool pavilion was created with a rammed earth pizza oven for casual outdoor dining influenced from the relaxed outdoor pavilions of Tulum Mexico, contrasted with Moroccan light fixtures.  A stone patio plinth was introduced and constructed for the 1860's home to sit upon to admire the formidable landscape, edible gardens and leisure spaces that surround the renovated home and addition.  The majestic plateau affords gracious indoor and outdoor living and spectacular Wine County views. 

Gustave Carlson