CALL OF THE WILD
Built in the footprint of a classic Western lodge, a California hideaway gets style and substance from wood, stone and metal details.
BUILT IN THE FOOTPRINT OF A CLASSIC WESTERN LODGE, A CALIFORNIA HIDEAWAY GETS STYLE AND SUBSTANCE FROM WOOD, STONE AND METAL DETAILS.
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.”
WHEN THEY WERE PLANNING ON BUILDING A GETAWAY
HOUSE IN THE WOODS, SARAH AND DARIUS ANDERSON
To learn more about Sarah’s shop or inquire about renting the
lodge, visit www.chateausonoma.com. For more information on Pascal Faivre’s
work, visit http://alaimports.com. For custom railings and grates, visit
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.
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.
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.
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.