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In California Wine Country, A Modern Farmhouse for a Brit and a Texan


In California Wine Country, A Modern Farmhouse for a Brit and a Texan

April 17, 2017

When they were ready to make a permanent move from city life in San Francisco to the country in Sonoma, California, Gail Defferari and Belinda Gregory-Head found inspiration in an unexpected place: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. While visiting friends at Flora Farms Culinary Cottages—a vacation enclave with a farm-to-table bent—they discovered that the floor plan “worked perfectly for both entertaining and full-time living,” Gail says. By happy accident the designer of the cottages, architect Chris Dorman, lives minutes north of SF in Mill Valley, California, so they engaged him to design their dream home in nearby Sonoma County.

Photography by Karen Steffens for Remodelista.

sonoma modern farmhouse kitchen white tile backsplash blue cabinets kitchen island
Above: The couple’s modern farmhouse kitchen has blue cabinets and white subway tiled walls. Hanging above the kitchen island is a trio of Luster pendants from Room & Board.
The new house is closely based on the Flora Farms design, with an added mudroom to accommodate life with dogs and a larger kitchen to accommodate Gail and Belinda’s shared passion for cooking.

white tile backsplash kitchen open wood shelves blue cabinets red horse 1
Above: Two open shelves of white oak are mounted above the counter. The apple painting is by Gail’s niece, Catherine Payne, and the red horse is an heirloom inherited from a close friend.

Gail, who hails from Texas, is the former proprietress of one of San Francisco’s original design-forward restaurants, Universal Cafe in the city’s Outer Mission, and is now a part-time collaborator at kitchen emporium March in San Francisco, a Remodelista favorite.

white tile backsplash kitchen led lighting open wood shelves blue cabinets
Above: LED strip lighting illuminates the shelves. The couple’s dishes and glassware comprise a mixed collection—some are from March, others were gathered over time.

Gail and Belinda, who is from England and has a dental practice in SF, share complementary aesthetic sensibilities and designed the kitchen themselves.

In California Wine Country A Modern Farmhouse for a Brit and a Texan portrait 11
Above: The kitchen window overlooks a view of the environs; landscaping is still in progress. The faucet is by Kohler, the sink is from Kräus, and the countertops are white Calacatta Oro marble.

The kitchen is amply sized, in part because Gail plans to open it up as an occasional venue for cooking classes, guest chef nights, and similar events.

union wood kitchen work table by matt bear at march sf
Above: The star of the kitchen is the March Worktable by woodworker Matt Bear of Union Studio in Berkeley. It’s made of solid white oak with a steel frame and has a towel rack on each end and a zinc dry storage bin.
white tile backsplash storage shelves cast iron pans wood bowl basket
Above: The duo saved money by choosing low-cost, beveled white subway tile for the kitchen walls.

Gail and Belinda were delighted with the work of their architect and contractor Mike Slater of S&S Builders, both in Mill Valley. “They were terrific to work with,” said Gail. “We have had a great experience with this build and none of the nightmares people talk about.”

white tile pizza oven indoor marble surround
Above: The pizza oven is from Wildwood Ovens in Los Angeles, and the marble surround with keystone detail was designed by Belinda. The pair stores chopped almond wood beneath the pizza oven; Gail orders it by the cord from a Bay Area company that supplies local restaurants.
kitchen spice drawer with march pantry black jars
Above: In a drawer by the stove, a variety of spices from March Pantry, starting at $12 each.
pop out white electrical outlet tile backsplash kitchen
Above: Pop-up outlets, used throughout the kitchen, disappear when not in use.
laundry room concrete floors dog gray roller blinds 1
Above: The pantry/mudroom room at the front of the house holds the refrigerator, laundry, and dry storage. It’s also linked to an outdoor run for the couple’s two dogs. (Gracie, shown here, is a 17-year-old terrier mix and descendent of the dog actor who starred in Benji.)
blue pantry kitchen shelves white bowls dry storage
Above: The cabinets are made by J&C Custom Cabinets in Sacramento and painted in Blue Danube by Benjamin Moore. The drawer pulls are from Rejuvenation.
hats hanging on storage hooks black dutch door
Above: The mudroom/pantry is accessible by a Dutch door immediately to the right of the house’s front door.
living room concrete floors gray sofa black basket pendants
Above: The two black basketweave pendant lights above the living and dining are from Ikea, modified with the power cord installed inside a down rod to minimize movement. The coffee table is from Room & Board.
black dutch door to backyard sonoma
Above: A Dutch door opens to the back dining patio. It’s painted in Dark Bronze by Benjamin Moore.
vintage wood dining table chairs flowers sonoma concrete floors
Above: The couple surrounded their antique dining table with chairs by Thonet. Throughout the house, floors are tinted concrete with radiant underfloor heating and a high-gloss polyurethane finish.
living room modern sonoma opens onto backyard 1
Above: The painting was created for the space by a close friend of the couple, artist Charley Brown. A Sol y Luna furniture set from Design Within Reach provides outdoor seating.
gray master bedroom sonoma white ivory bed
Above: In the master bedroom, two Frankfort Articulating Wall Lights from Circa Lighting flank a fabric-backed bed from Room & Board. The nightstands are custom and the accent wall is painted in Farrow & Ball Mole’s Breath.
marble walls concrete floors master bath white
Above: The walls in the master bathroom are waxed Venetian plaster by Willem Racké Studio in San Francisco. The countertop and shower surround is Calacatta Oro.
white marble bathroom shower bathrobe concrete floor
Above: The shower in the guest bathroom has walls of solid Calacatta Oro marble, and the same stone in mosaic square on the shower floor.
modern low white sofa with pouf ottomans reading room sonoma
Above: In the reading room, two Anglepoise lamps are angled over a Design Within Reach couch on an Ikea rug.
master bedroom sonoma view over outdoor pool
Above: Though the landscape is still a work in progress, the pool and hot tub are ready for use. The couple’s bedroom has an accordion door that opens completely onto the landscape.

“Having been in the city for almost 30 years,” said Gail, “it is time to be in the garden.”

exterior black door pendant light white facade 1
Above: A black Ikea Hektar pendant lamp hangs above the front door. To the left is a fiddle leaf fig tree in a planter by designer Michael Verheyden, available at March.
white house exterior modern farmhouse style black doors
Above: The exterior of the house is troweled stucco.
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Frequently asked questions

What is the article about?

The article is about a modern farmhouse built for a Brit and a Texan in California's wine country.

Who are the owners of the farmhouse?

The owners of the farmhouse are a Brit and a Texan.

Where is the farmhouse located?

The farmhouse is located in California's wine country.

What style is the farmhouse designed in?

The farmhouse is designed in a modern style.

What is the inspiration behind the farmhouse's design?

The inspiration behind the farmhouse's design is the owners' love of modern design and the surrounding natural beauty of the wine country.

What materials were used in the construction of the farmhouse?

The farmhouse was constructed using local reclaimed wood, concrete floors, and iron and steel accents.

What is unique about the farmhouse's kitchen?

The farmhouse's kitchen features a custom hood made from reclaimed wood and steel, along with a custom island made from a 500-pound piece of reclaimed walnut.

How does the farmhouse incorporate indoor-outdoor living?

The farmhouse incorporates indoor-outdoor living through large sliding doors that open up to the outdoors, a covered patio, and a pool area.

What role did the landscape architect play in the farmhouse's design?

The landscape architect helped to create a naturalistic and drought-resistant landscape that would blend seamlessly with the surrounding environment.

What notable design features does the farmhouse have?

Notable design features of the farmhouse include a central fireplace made from local stone, a floating steel staircase, and floor-to-ceiling windows that let in natural light.

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