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In California Wine Country, A Family Campground (Plus Lap Pool)


In California Wine Country, A Family Campground (Plus Lap Pool)

May 11, 2020

A former boss of San Francisco architect Malcolm Davis once described houses as “a few rooms in case of rain,” emphasizing the connection of any structure to its surroundings. In 2015 Davis had the chance to put his mentor’s adage into practice when he designed an off-the-grid house for a nature-loving family on 165 acres in Healdsburg, California. With only three rooms, almost no furniture, and wood stoves for heat, “it’s kind of the sparest version of what a weekend house can be,” says Davis. Let’s take a look.

Photography by Joe Fletcher, courtesy of Malcolm Davis Architecture.

family camp estate california wood gravel
Above: A 30-inch Corten fence borders the backyard to keep snakes out. A few low-water lawns dot the property to function as “campgrounds” on which visiting friends and family can pitch their tents.
corrugated metal siding pool house northern california
Above: Davis installed a go-to industrial favorite of his—Stonco Vaportight Lights—as sconces flanking the breezeway entry into the pool house.
interior plywood room carpet wood stove healdsburg 2
Above: The indoor spaces are spartan, meant to function as indoor campsites. Rais woodstoves provide heat.
interior plywood room carpet wood stove healdsburg
Above: The floor coverings are by Chilewich. The white lounger is the Taavi Chair by Loll.
commercial industrial stainless kitchen inside camp estate healdsburg
Above: All the “interior” spaces—both an indoor/outdoor screened porch and the three fully indoor rooms—are lined with rotary-cut, white birch plywood.
outdoor covered screened dining porch kitchen corrugated roof
Above: The kitchen is on the screened porch and is made of entirely off-the-shelf industrial restaurant components.
screened pool porch dining table california wine country
Above: Contractor Simon Fairweather built the frame for the screened porch out of solid ipe wood. Though a simple detail, said Davis, “the contractor’s precision keeps it looking clean and intentional.”
pool house bathroom metal siding plywood cubbies
Above: Davis exposed the standard wall framing in the bathroom, forming convenient storage cubbies above the sink. The color of the purple door at left—which leads to the shower—was chosen by one of the clients’ two girls (each got to choose one door color).

“I love exposing structure,” said Davis, “and telling the story of how something is built.”

pool house shower metal walls wood stool malcolm davis
Above: The bathroom has a concrete floor and shower of galvanized sheet metal.
outdoor shower northern california wood siding
Above: An outdoor shower made of ipe wood.
healdsburg california wine country camp estate pool porch
Above: Davis was inspired by the concrete water troughs of working ranches when designing the lap pool; for more, see Swimming Pool of the Week: A Rustic Family Campground—with a Lap Pool on Gardenista.

For more camp-style spaces, see:

N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on May 17, 2017.

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Frequently asked questions

What is the location of the campground in California wine country?

The campground is located in the heart of Sonoma wine country, in Petaluma, California.

What amenities are offered at the campground?

The campground offers a lap pool, hot tub, playground, volleyball court, and a clubhouse with billiards and table tennis.

Is the campground family-friendly?

Yes, the campground is designed to be family-friendly with amenities for kids and adults alike.

Are pets allowed at the campground?

Yes, the campground is pet-friendly but rules and restrictions apply. Please contact the campground for more details.

Do I need to bring my own camping equipment?

Yes, you need to bring your own camping equipment as the campground does not provide tents or RVs.

Is there wine-tasting available nearby?

Yes, the campground is located in Sonoma wine country, so there are numerous wineries in the area that offer wine-tasting.

Is there a minimum stay required at the campground?

Yes, there is a two-night minimum stay required on weekends and a three-night minimum stay required on holiday weekends.

Is there a cancellation policy for reservations?

Yes, there is a 14-day cancellation policy for reservations. If you cancel within 14 days of your reservation, you will forfeit your deposit.

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