The clients of this 3,160-square-foot house—one a visual artist and both serious art collectors and former gallery owners—wanted a small, energy-efficient home that embraced the rural setting. In addition to needing two bedrooms, they asked for a separate guest house/studio, a pool, and barbecue area. Located in the Santa Ynez Valley, the climate is hot and dry in the summer and fall, with warm to cold winters.
Following the slope of the hillside, Fernau + Hartman created a central rectilinear bar from which the bedroom wings jut. The dispersed elements connect to the landscape, with openings framing views and blurring the distinction between indoor and outdoor spaces. A studio/guest house stands free of the main wood frame and concrete structure, its placement creating a small courtyard between the two entities. Steel grating, operable wood screens, and generous openings keep the house cool despite extreme summer temperatures. Combined with low walls and trellised structures, the landscaping—composed of drought tolerant native plants—further defines the outdoor rooms.