Northern California Family Retreat House

Nestled among vineyards in all directions, with spectacular views of mountain ranges beyond, Pfau Long Architecture (now part of Perkins&Will) created a new family retreat in the relaxing destination of Napa Valley.

  • area / size 6,700 sqft
  • Year 2017
  • Type House,
  • Spanning over 4.2 acres, the compound comprises a main house, guest house, and pool house served by a garage, pump house, garden shed/ceramic studio and bicycle and kayak storage building.

    The client desired a timeless and elegant family retreat that fosters an active indoor-outdoor lifestyle appropriate to the site’s mild climate and picturesque setting.

    The design is a modern take on the local vernacular. With a nod to the agricultural past, the structures are simple barn-like volumes crafted of wood and steel with crisp, minimal detailing. All materials are used honestly, reflecting their function and celebrating their textures and intrinsic properties. Large openings punctuate the volumes and create a strong connection to the landscape and outdoor living spaces.

    The two-story main house offers vaulted ceilings and breathtaking views from every room. With a very flat site, the finished floor was carefully calibrated to balance the views over the linear vineyards with the feeling of being nestled within the landscape and larger Valley.

    The entry to the main house at the center of the symmetrical volume provides a wall of glass on either side, offering a view through the building to the landscape and hills beyond. Large doors on both sides invite the landscape to visually flow through the building and provide cross-ventilation for the double height space. Large movable wood-slat panels are controlled via a mechanical wheel to adjust the level of light and privacy.

    Outdoor living spaces complement those inside the house. An outdoor dining area shares a back-to-back concrete fireplace with the living room which is connected to the dining room and kitchen. At the opposite end of the house, the family common area opens onto an outdoor porch with a built-in concrete ping pong table that can double as a large outdoor eating surface. Large, glass pocket doors open to connect the ping pong patio, rear main patio and dining patio to the indoor spaces.

    The landscape design further unites the interior spaces with the vineyards and mountains beyond. The plantings echo the geometric rows of the vineyards with more colorful and fragrant bands of planting closer to the house.

    This project aims to create a family retreat responsive to this unique setting that will enhance the lives of family and friends with enjoyment for years to come.

    Design: Pfau Long Architecture (now part of Perkins&Will)
    Contractor: Grassi & Associates, Inc.
    Photography: Art Gray