St. Helena Retreat by Butler Armsden Architects, San Francisco

Ahh, the wine country, such a naturally stunning landscape with all things good–food, wine and architecture. One such dwelling is St. Helena Retreat, a modern dream home by Butler Armsden Architects of San Francisco, California.

Designed for a retired couple seeking privacy, this house is also situated within walking distance from the quaint downtown brimming with top-notch restaurants, galleries and shops. The garage and studio sit at the front, with a pebbled path leading past the glimmering pool to the main two-story structure, which is nestled at the rear of the L-shaped lot.

Quintessential to the laid-back lifestyle of California, the residence’s outdoor fauna, including its small olive grove, is verdant yet not perfected and assumes an overgrown look which I personally love. Compounding this organic beauty, views from the top floor terrace expand across the breathtaking land of the Napa Valley. Though a contemporary box-like structure, this home manages to subtly fade into its environment which signifies innovative and well-planned design.

Once inside, a rich palette of chocolate, cream and white visually connects the shared spaces which include the living room, dining room and kitchen. This double-height living space features a retracting glass wall leading out to the pool patio which is covered by a vast roof overhang, providing shade from the direct sunlight at certain times of the day. Plentiful clerestory windows also cascade natural light into the core of this abode.

Flooring is quarter sewn white oak, while exposed wood beam ceilings feature the same wood. Kitchen cabinetry is a deeper stained oak veneer, which harmonizes well with the other furnishings. A cantilevered staircase of medium-wood, steel and cable ascends to a mezzanine furnished with a glass railing which adds to the airy ambiance.

The master bedroom on the second floor features warm hues and textiles offset spectacularly by exposed painted steel I-beams which are also featured on the adjoining terrace. This juxtaposition is striking and contributes an unexpected industrial vibe to the otherwise cozy space. The master bath is cooly sheathed in white marble with a sleek basin and an incredible glazed shower which possesses clear views of the sky.

The St. Helena Retreat is just that. Designed with a sensitivity to nature, a clean, modern aesthetic and soothing color mix, I couldn’t image a more perfect home for California dreaming.


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