THE MORE, THE MERRIER
BADMINTON. SLEEPING CABINS. WINE. DEBORAH BOWMAN AND ROBERT RICCARDI’S CALIFORNIA HOME HAS BECOME A STYLISH, LAID-BACK RETREAT FOR FRIENDS AND FAMILY— A KIND OF SUMMER CAMP FOR GROWN-UPS.
Summer camp for grown-ups? This home is designed for fun.
These days, when Deborah Bowman anticipates a bevy of weekend guests at her house outside of Calistoga, CA, she’s coolheaded and relaxed. That wasn’t always the case. She and her husband, Robert Riccardi, used to spend days shopping for and prepping food. “After years of trying to do everything, we’ve come to realize that we don’t need to put so much pressure on ourselves,” Deborah says. “It’s more relaxing and fun to let guests help with, or even take over, an entire meal. And they’re happy to do it!”
That laid-back approach carries over into all aspects of weekends at their home, which has the feel of an adult summer camp. There are bikes for getting to nearby vineyards, hammocks for napping, and badminton rackets for afternoon matches. In the evening, Robert, an advertising executive, screens classic movies in the living room or mixes drinks in a former tractor shed they’ve transformed into a bar and pool room.
When the evening winds down, two outlying cabins become prized sleeping spots. They lack heat and hot water, but their simplicity is part of the appeal. “They are quiet except for the crickets and frogs, dark but for the stars,” Deborah says. “Best of all, they have no cell reception.”
It’s the 1,855square-foot house that is the hub, however.
The couple renovated the place five years ago with entertaining in mind, opening it up to the outdoors and decorating with durable fabrics, forgiving surfaces, and a core of midcentury modern furnishings rich in patina. Deborah—a graphic designer who previously worked in a San Francisco auction house—is a savvy antiques hunter, drawn to clean lines as well as signs of age. “Nothing here is precious. Dogs on sofas, kids dripping ice cream. Those things don’t faze me,” she says. “They’re just signs of life.”
Portions of Deborah and Robert’s property were damaged in the Tubbs wildfire. They are in the process of rebuilding.
Adjustable furnitureconverts for larger gatherings.In the dining room, above, the table (inspired by a midcentury design)extends to fit up to 14. The patio,right, is usually set up for lounging,but hinged legs on the custom-madecoffee table elevate it to dining height for outdoor entertaining. The sofa and armchairsare just pushed back and replaced witha pair of benches.