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New rural home is designed to look like a renovated winery with a modern addition

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The two-storey main home is stone-clad like a traditional 1800s winery and is separated from the more contemporary guest wing by a breezeway

New rural home is designed to look like a renovated winery with a modern addition Discover this article's resources


It's one thing to copy a traditional style, but something totally different to recreate a passage of time. That's the guiding principle and philosophy designer Julian Cohen brought to this home he designed in North California wine country.

For Cohen, it's important that clients first identify what's meaningful for them and, in this instance, he aimed to produce a home that tells a story and expresses a sense of history.

What emerged from early discussions was the influence on the owners of a stone building that was one of California's first wineries – and a haiku the owners wrote.

"We wanted to establish what's really important to them, so their house could be an expression of who they are – something they would feel totally comfortable with.

"These gave the essence from which we developed the design of their home."


What evolved in the design process was an L-shaped configuration of two buildings connected by a breezeway.

The stone-clad main building appears to be an 1800s winery which has been renovated and converted to a home at some stage. The secondary building – referred to as the annex – is a more modern single-storey structure that looks as if it is a recent addition to the property.

With this backstory established, Cohen was then able to set about the design and detailing that supported it. Getting the stone right on the two-storey building proved particularly challenging.

"We visited the inspirational winery, and the exterior stone used there was very large. And to look right, the stones have to become smaller higher up," says Cohen.

"It took three months searching to find a quarry to cut the stone – then we experimented for weeks with grout materials."

Windows and doors were all custom-made in steel. Concrete posts were poured in place and needed to be precisely formed for the windows to fit into them – with a tolerance of only 3mm.

Inside, flooring and ceiling boards were deliberately selected to give an aged character in keeping with an old winery building.

But once inside more contemporary elements are revealed. For example, the kitchen is characterised by two 150 x 150cm islands.

"The room is so big, one island would have been monstrous, so we broke it up" says Cohen. "But the butcher block look of the tops still gives a link to the past.

"There's also a full-on scullery, which is like a second kitchen, except there's no stove. With the scullery, we didn't need so many cabinets in the main kitchen, this resulted in a more European look."

The transition to a more modern look continues from the main building through the breezeway, to the annex. This is a self-contained guest wing with two bedrooms, ensuites and laundry.

The annex is clad in Alaskan yellow cedar and, in further contrast to the stone building, all its guttering and downpipes are concealed.

Solar panels on the roofs of the single-storey buildings supply most of the electricity the house needs. Cohen says while energy efficiency was important, it wasn't a driving force behind the design.

However, the house has most of its window expanse on the more sheltered north face, and shades have been added to any exposed windows. The main house also benefits from radiant heat from the slab floor, and there's a multi-split system for heating and cooling.

But for Julian Cohen the ultimate success of his design lies in the responses given by visitors to the property.

"Some people believe this really is a renovated old winery – which is exactly what we were aiming for," he says.

Credit List

Architectural and interior design Julian Cohen, ARC Design
Interior furnishings Ali Davin, Jute
Kitchen designer Julian Cohen, ARC Design
Builder Alex Hunt, Monsoon Construction
Drafting Ron Swicegood
Landscape Lucas & Lucas Landscape Architects
Pool Stan Johnson Pool Construction
Cabinet company Deegan Woodworks
Structural engineer Vinson Engineering
Cladding Natural stone, SBI
Roofing Standing seam, bronze aluminium
Doors and windows Architectural Ironworks
Flooring Marly French Limestone, Exquisite Surfaces
Wood ceilings, beams and annex floor boards Reclaimed oak, ARC Woods and Timbers
Wallcovering Natural plaster
Paints Benjamin Moore
Lighting LBL Lighting
Heating Mitsubishi ductless system and radiant floor
Kitchen cabinetry Reclaimed oak
Kitchen islands Richard Von Erenkrook
Countertop and splashback Himalayan granite, ASN Natural Stone
Sink Julien inox from Premier Bath and Kitchen
Taps Waterworks Henry
Oven and cooktop La Cornue
Bath MTI Solana
Bathroom vanity Red elm, Richard Von Erenkrook
Basin Marzi rectangular
Taps and shower fittings Waterworks
Toilet Toto

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