A Rustic Space-Time Continuum
For many homeowners – with apologies to Star Trekkers – it’s really interior space that’s the final frontier. The potential for improvement is infinite. Take this new house by innovative and edgy interior designer Erin Martin working with an adventurous Napa Valley client. It’s both rustic — as a barn-inspired ranch house — and highly refined.
The big timber structure, which supports a sleeping loft over the kitchen, is exposed and becomes a foil for a sophisticated black and white furniture palette. The loft itself is simple but eye-catching, and not a little galactic,
thanks to an art piece suspended on a rope and resembling a dusty comet — or a hay bale on a bad hair day. It’s wonderful, like a tiny hint of Halloween. The table on the dining porch reads as a vertical extension of the floor, thanks to
the continuity of material — the same kind of boards are used for both. It’s a clever idea and makes you wonder just for a moment which is which — porch or table — rather like an Escher print. Martin’s design of the galley kitchen is particularly effective at enlivening our perception of space through the use of contrast. Her backsplash, for example, does more than protect the wall above the sink from water damage — not to mention the occasional “wormhole.” She used antiqued mirror to cover the wall behind the range.
see how the backsplash almost blends with the windows, adding a little reflective mystery to contrasts with the bunkhouse-like floorboards. The peninsula dividing the kitchen from the dining/living area
The barn has always been a good starting point for home design: a typical barn layout — which is similar to that of the Roman basilica — includes a high central portion and lower side aisles. One of our newest exclusive designs, Plan 530-2 below,
glazes part of the roof to brighten the rear porch and the adjacent living room. Architect Francois Levy took took inspiration from gambrel-roof barns for his Plan 450-2.
Finally, just in time for colder weather, a thermostat that turns up the heat through modern functional design: it’s the new Learning Thermostat from Nest, a company founded by Tony Fadell, formerly of Apple — so naturally it’s a sleekly appealing object in its own right. It’s also intuitive — just turn the dial the way you did with units of old but now there’s a new twist, not to mention a learning curve.
According to Tony: “Turns out you change the temperature in your house 1500 times a year. 1500! Our thermostat learns what temperatures you like so it can program itself. It senses when you’re out and turns itself down. And we started from scratch with design, so it’s beautiful.” I concur, though it reminds me a little of the lyric from Santa Claus is Coming to Town: “He knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake…” It has fully integrated software, provides energy-saving tips, can be controlled from your smartphone, and installation is over most existing circuitry. If you’re good maybe you’ll get one!