The shell of this cleverly designed 996-square-foot weekend home and future guest house resembles the outbuildings of Napa Valley's many wineries, but its elegantly understated interior is clearly purposed as a luxurious get-away. Comfortably nestled amidst stands of olive trees and fields of vines, the so-called Barn seems as if it grew and matured along with the vegetation.
In keeping with the owner's request for a building that blends with its surroundings and that possesses a sense of history, the Barn's essential quality lies in the way it perfectly fits into the landscape, as if it had always been there. This attribute was achieved through careful planning and patience. A year before the building went up, the landscaping and planting was completed and allowed to mature so the owner could enjoy the full experience of the vineyard from the moment he moved in.
The building's mahogany and cedar interior and cedar-clad exterior blend naturally with each other and harmonize with the outdoors. Further uniting the Barn with the land are architect Mario Aiello's favorite features—two large sliding doors that open half the length of the living space to the sun-drenched surroundings. With the doors open, guests can view the countryside from nearly any point inside.
The judges admired this project's interiors and detailing, as well as how its character has retained its modest beginnings as a shed. They also recognized the structure's relationship to the land, its unpretentious and restrained elegance, and how great it would be to wake up in this gem.
Entrant/Architect: Dahlin Group Architecture Planning, San Ramon, Calif.
Builder: R.H. Hess Development, Napa, Calif.
Living space: 996 square feet
Site: 65 acres
Construction cost: $230 a square foot
Photographer: David Duncan Livingston
Resources: Bathroom plumbing fittings/fixtures: Kohler; Entry doors/windows: Andersen; Fans: Modern Fan Co.; Fireplace: Superior; Garbage disposer: In-Sink-Erator; Hardware/lighting fixtures: Restoration Hardware; HVAC equipment: Trane; Interior doors: GAF; Kitchen plumbing fittings/fixtures: Chicago Faucets and Kohler; Paints: Behr; Range: Viking; Refrigerator: General Electric.