Country Sampler's Prairie Style - - Contents - WRIT­TEN BY Mary Forsell. PHO­TOGRAPHED BY Mark Lohman. STYLED BY Fifi O’neill.

Built in the foot­print of a clas­sic West­ern lodge, a Cal­i­for­nia hide­away gets style and sub­stance from wood, stone and metal de­tails.


Sim­ply dec­o­rated yet vis­ually pow­er­ful, the living area is crowned with old red­wood beams ob­tained from a friend in the tim­ber busi­ness. On the sofa ta­ble, twin lamps made from sal­vaged bal­last are sculp­tural ac­cents.

looked no fur­ther than the Cal­i­for­nia town of Ken­wood in eastern Sonoma County. Seek­ing the best of both worlds, they bought a 75-acre prop­erty in 2004 that of­fers back­coun­try seclu­sion and rugged val­ley vis­tas where bob­cats still roam, yet is just min­utes away from vine­yards and cozy tast­ing rooms.

“We wanted to build a home in the style of the au­thor Jack Lon­don’s Wolf Lodge,” ex­plains Sarah, the pro­pri­etor of Chateau Sonoma, a lo­cal em­po­rium that fea­tures rustic-chic fur­nish­ings. “Dar­ius has been col­lect­ing me­mora­bilia re­lated to Lon­don since he was 12,” she says. “He has the largest pri­vate col­lec­tion in the coun­try.” Per­haps best known for his novel The Call of the Wild, set in the Klondike Gold Rush, Lon­don had made Sonoma his home, build­ing a 26-room lodge in nearby Glen Ellen, which sadly burned down be­fore the au­thor/ad­ven­turer even had a chance to in­habit it.

For­tu­nately, enough writ­ten records and ru­ins re­mained to in­spire Dar­ius and Sarah to get to work con­struct­ing their own in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the lodge. They also took in­spi­ra­tion from Lon­don’s own words. He wrote that a house must be “hon­est in con­struc­tion, ma­te­rial, and ap­pear­ance.”

To ful­fill that vi­sion, the cou­ple worked with only ba­sic, nat­u­ral and in­dige­nous ma­te­ri­als: chunks of lo­cal field­stone, terra-cotta tile for the roof, lo­cally sourced wood, an­tique stone hearths, and boul­ders to dec­o­rate the ex­te­ri­ors.

In the open-plan com­mon room, which in­cludes a living room and sit­ting area that seam­lessly flow into a break­fast nook and kitchen, re­claimed red­wood beams soar 20 feet high. “Th­ese are old-growth red­wood that we are reusing—we are not clean­ing out the forests!” Sarah is quick to point out.

To high­light the raw beauty of the space, Sarah left win­dows un­adorned by cur­tains to show­case light and views. As the sun moves across the sky each day, light plays off the tex­tured plas­ter walls cre­ated by ar­ti­san Pas­cal Faivre, whose hand-fin­ished de­tails add pro­vin­cial sen­si­bil­ity and a gen­uine sense of age.

“We wanted this to be an open space where ev­ery­one can com­mune,” Sarah says. “Be­sides, we re­ally wanted a big fire­place, and it needed a room this size for bal­ance.” She ar­ranges the fur­ni­ture with tra­di­tional sym­me­try; for ex­am­ple, ta­pes­try arm­chairs and leather club chairs are set up in pairs. But to keep things from get­ting too pre­dictable, Sarah also adds nat­u­ral and odd­ball touches, such as branches and the oc­ca­sional bird’s nest or an­tique bee skep to free up the style with more ca­sual el­e­ments. Noth­ing is so pre­cious or fussy that it can’t be touched or sat on. “Af­ter all, I have a 5-year-old,” Sarah says with a laugh, re­fer­ring to the cou­ple’s preschool son, Tyge.

Only ob­jects that cel­e­brate na­ture or are tied to the land dec­o­rate th­ese rooms, in­clud­ing heavy olive-oil jugs, rustic bird­cages, wo­ven gath­er­ing bas­kets, and glass demi­johns that once held wine. Two 19th-cen­tury fruit paint­ings add a nat­u­ral flour­ish in the break­fast nook, and vin­tage field guides to lo­cal flora and fauna bring touches of the field and for­est in­doors. Sarah also sprin­kles around paint­ings of open-air Paris café scenes, their for­mal­ity an in­trigu­ing coun­ter­point to the downto-earth lodge vibe.

Through­out the rooms, iron fire­place grates and rail­ings cre­ated by lo­cal ar­ti­san Kevin Cherry add an au­then­tic Mis­sion­style feel to the home.

While the cou­ple’s many rel­a­tives (Sarah comes from a large fam­ily) of­ten pass through and stay, this cozy lodge is also avail­able to vis­i­tors, per­haps as a base of op­er­a­tions for a fam­ily re­u­nion or even a wed­ding. “When­ever I stay there, I feel very serene,” Sarah says. “It is def­i­nitely spe­cial—a place where ev­ery­one feels at home.”



A 19th-cen­tury French oil paint­ing hangs over an equally old side­board bought at a Paris flea mar­ket. Ev­ery el­e­ment of the house has an in­ter­est­ing story. For ex­am­ple, the wide-plank oak floors were re­claimed from a now-de­funct East Coast fac­tory.

THIS PAGE: Fruit still lifes from the 19th cen­tury add rich color to Sarah and Dar­ius An­der­son’s kitchen area. “They are prob­a­bly my fa­vorite art of all time,” Sarah ex­claims. “I love the depth of color.” An iron light fix­ture hangs over a ta­ble fash­ioned from re­claimed barn­wood. The clever cen­ter­piece is an earthen­ware com­fit jar nes­tled in a heavy old dough bowl. OP­PO­SITE: Pomegranates and rose­mary serve as both food and decor.

THIS PAGE: Demi­johns are one of Sarah’s col­lect­ing pas­sions. Not only

do they make lovely con­tain­ers for dried vines and twigs, but they also cre­ate a rich play of light when the sun

strikes them. In the back­ground, a Paris café scene makes a so­phis­ti­cated

coun­ter­point to the West­ern am­bi­ence. OP­PO­SITE, BOT­TOM LEFT: Ob­tained “as is” in the south of France, this ta­pes­try arm­chair has a well-worn charm. Sarah would never dream of chang­ing the fab­ric. A ta­ble

with an iron base holds a crack­led crock­ery piece that dou­bles as a vase. OP­PO­SITE, BOT­TOM RIGHT: With its legs cut down, an old farm ta­ble

be­comes a rugged perch for 18th­cen­tury olive-oil jugs. Knobby glasses have a slightly mas­cu­line lodge vibe.

THIS PAGE: A terra-cotta roof and woodand-stone ex­te­rior tie this home to its nat­u­ral sur­round­ings. Note the Juliet bal­cony: It extends from the mas­ter bed­room. OP­PO­SITE: A paint­ing by Thomas Hill dec­o­rates a land­ing. Ac­tive in the 19th and early 20th cen­turies, the artist cre­ated many Cal­i­for­nia land­scape paint­ings. At the foot of the stairs, a mas­sive olive-oil jug al­ludes to the olive groves that have be­come a grow­ing pres­ence in Sonoma.

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