• Suzanne

Knowlton Farms - The 14 year learning project

Updated: Jan 18, 2018

Knowlton Farms - 2002- 2017

The story of a fourteen year project that gave me my wings. I've always been a creator, so my heart soared the minute I walked through the door of this run down 1920"s farmhouse in the Russian River area of Sonoma County, California.


Oh, this is the after shot of the run down farmhouse with the 60' lap pool.



Here is the back of the house. Notice the roof coming off on the left. This is a typical Saltbox Greek Revival that really lacked personality.


Below is the front of the house. There is a Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia, to the left. I took that as a symbol I found something special. You see, Santa Rosa is where the famous Luther Burbank hung his hat for 50 years. I was told that a friend and colleague lived here. What a treasure! Hidden away from the road with breathtaking views of Green Valley out the back. SOLD! I left my Mill Valley home for lifestyle of The Russian River.

This is the front of the house at purchase. Notice the lack of beefiness on the entry and in the columns. This was remedied by master carpenter, Mike Jayne. Some plantings were installed to sell the house. I was especially fond of the Variegated Buxus or English Boxwood so that remained and more was added later.

This shows the inside of the house from the living room. There was a dark stairway that led up to two bedrooms and bath. The ceilings were low, the door openings were small. You can peak into the tiny retro kitchen and get the scope of this remodel. There was a slight step up to linoleum floors that were added by the last owners.

The house off to the left was purchased shortly after the first house and became the Knowlton Farms Guesthouse, a wonderful retreat for guests and friends.

The back starts comes off the house and the supporting terrace is excavated. The terrace added 1000 sq ft to the living area of the house. It's not easy to build this type of terrace in sandy loam soil. Hence, the backhoe. We were engineered to pour the concrete perimeter first, dig to rock, then fill in the hole with base road rock. The builder commented that the house would withstand a 10 point earthquake since the old house was braced to this terrace. All the windows were removed and later replaced with custom wood windows that retained the farmhouse look. I designed, along with architect John Clarke of Marin to create an indoor outdoor living environment that faced the views. We wanted a seamless transition from inside to outside. NO steps from house to terrace. The Nanowall doors were ordered from Germany. This system was one of the first and remains one of the best for seamless transition from the inside to the outside of a structure.


More to come! Follow the transition of this special place on my next blog post.

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