Blagsvedt House – Sebastopol, CA (Sonoma county)

by Doug Murray on May 4, 2011


Our clients had lived in a little house on this hill side property for 13 years. The house had been water damaged, causing mold problems in the lower level. The couple had done a lot of work developing the property, planting trees, terracing a level area, and adding a landscaped swimming pond.

“The deck has a wonderful intimate sunlit seating area overlooking the pond.”

Bruce is a skilled builder. Rozanne is a skilled craftsperson/ artist. They had definite ideas on what they wanted their house to be. Architecturally, they were interested in an updated version of a Craftsman-style design for their new home, oriented with a view of the pond.

After one or two initial meetings, I developed a design I thought was quite good…sort of an updated version of Bay Tradition Architecture. The Bay Tradition developed from the works of Bernard Maybeck and others influenced by the Craftsman Movement. The design presentation to the clients did not go well. So I dropped the time I spent going down that wrong road, and we started over.

After more discussions, we gradually developed a plan we all agreed was on the right track. We continued with many evening and weekend meetings, some involving wine tasting, where we hashed out many issues and conflicting ideas. Each of us took turns being the lone voice of an idea that needed more thorough discussion to win over the others or be discarded. More so than on other projects, it was a case of me functioning as a catalyst to give form to many vague ideas they had for their house.

We ended up doing the project in two phases. The garage with a guest unit above was built first. This allowed the clients to live in this space while the main house was under construction. They moved from the little existing house, to an on-site trailer, to the new garage/ guest house, to the partially completed new main house. (Sonoma County has a policy allowing for a temporary one year residence in a trailer on site, while a house is under construction.)

When guests stay over, they have their own private apartment with an outdoor entrance. The most pleasant outdoor space we developed was a long narrow deck connecting the main house with the guest house/ garage. This deck has a wonderful intimate sunlight seating area overlooking the pond. It feels like an outdoor room since it is situated in between the main house and the guest house/ garage structure.

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