Sonoma County is distinct in character from Napa, its better-known neighbor: The hilly, intimate landscape, with beautiful winding roads, is for me one of the most sublime settings in the American landscape. Our clients, a couple for whom we have designed both a primary residence in San Francisco and a pied-à-terre in New York, had a house built for them in the 1970s on a twenty-acre site—a spectacular location on a ridge of land that drops off into valleys on three sides, with a view of Sonoma Mountain to the south. When a neighboring property became available, the couple asked if I’d visit and give them my thoughts on its potential.
The building site, on the high point of the adjacent land, roughly a quarter-mile from their house, offered 270-degree views across Sonoma Valley toward Napa to the east and Sugarloaf Mountain to the north. It offered a counterpoint to their existing residence and, together with the pool house, would create an unusual variety of topographical experiences—and an equal variety of views.184