I remember if we moved to Oregon, we were going to have a hot tub and if we moved to Arizona we were going to have a pool! We had home design plans for like 6 different houses in a suburb in AZ. I stared at those plans for hours. Which house would we choose, how I would pace the furniture, the colors that would be on the walls....yes, I was 10.
We ended up staying in Kansas, but we had a jetted bathtub, sauna and pool!! I believe in the 15 years my parents owned our home, I got in the sauna 3 times. Apparently I hate being hot and sweating. I sweat like a dude, not like the hot girl at the gym.
Skip to years later and countless design ideas-some good, some WTF's :) I got my first magazine subscription to House Beautiful. I always awaited it's arrival and liked the pictures. Until, I came across this house. I LOVE THIS HOUSE!!! Like a crack head loves crack. Like a fat kid loves cookies. Like a want to be designer loves well this house....
I read that issue probably 100 times. I took it to my mom's and showed her. I showed it to Mr. TSL. I carried it on trips with me. I tore the pages out and look at them regularly. Then, I am
It is my DREAM HOME!! I love every bit of it. There is not one space that I look at and say, "Well, I would have done this." No way, no ma'am. It's absolutely perfect for me. Industrial, barn wood, a little splash of red, lived in, fire place ---Every bit of this place is me!!!
I think I am going to start re-designing to simulate this house....Mr. TSL will love that! jk
Well, after all that droning on...here it is!
Here is the article that is on House Beautiful, so you can read it too!!
CHRISTINE PITTEL: This looks like sleepaway camp for grown-ups, right in the middle of Napa Valley wine country. Where's my bunk?
KEN FULK: Take your pick. There's the original 1940 rancher's cottage. My partner, Kurt Wootton, and I didn't have the heart to tear it down, despite everyone's advice. Then there's the big huge barn we put up, thinking we'd eventually move out of the cottage and live there. But it's more fun to play in it — like a Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland movie. And up on an oak-wooded knoll overlooking the whole valley are two tent bungalows, terribly romantic, with big fluffy feather beds. That may be your spot.
Sounds great, so long as I can cozy up in front of your fireplace. How big is that living room? Seems like you've packed a lot into a very small space.
Truly, there's not that much stuff — just a sofa, two chairs, a large round table, and a big island, as opposed to lots of small, precious things. When we renovated the cottage, we took down walls to open it up but kept the size the same. We didn't want to lose the simple charm that had attracted us in the first place. Any changes we made were strategic. We removed the ceiling so you can see right up to the rafters and added a series of skylights that flood the room with light. Even though the living area is only about 650 square feet, the extra volume makes it feel much larger, which is important since it serves multiple functions — living, dining, cooking. Two bedrooms, a big bathroom, a sleeping loft, and a new screened-in porch make up another 600 square feet. One of our smartest moves was adding that big porch across the front, which greatly increased the living area with minimal impact on the house.
There's a nice balance between fresh white paint and battered wood, so nothing feels too pristine. And I like the improvised quality. What were those stools originally?
Giant springs, literally taken off a truck. I saw them at a salvage yard and thought they would look great by the island, which is made from an old falling-down fence on the property. We recycled the beat-up wood instead of throwing it away. Most people would probably not have done such a big island in a small room, but I knew it was going to be the social hub of the house. Besides, I like large, substantial pieces. They make a small space feel more solid and important.
What are those lights hanging over the island? They've got that tough industrial look — an interesting contrast to all the old wood.
In a way, they keep it from getting too sentimental. I found them in Paris and hung them here, even though they're way overscale. But that's what makes it dramatic.
This rustic little place is actually very sophisticated. Part of that comes from the palette. Why did you limit it to black and white, with touches of red?
It got established on the outside. Everything is painted Ralph Lauren Picket Fence White, which unifies a diverse group of buildings, and then it just moved inside. It felt wrong when we tried to mix it up. There was a purity which happened with restraint. It added a serenity and calmness to the place. Black and white just seemed natural, and then I threw in a little red once in a while — on the big red gate, the front door of the cottage, the red mohair-covered chairs in front of the fire. I didn't really go out and shop for the house. I'm lucky to have a couple of warehouses full of furniture. I already owned the chairs and the sofa covered in black-and-white ticking. The dining table, which I painted black, used to be a display table in a department store. Now it's usually piled with books, so friends can just grab one to read. There's no TV at the ranch. Sometimes we actually clear it off and have dinner there.
Bluestone is an unexpected, almost modern touch on the floors. Why did you choose it?
Low maintenance, and my dogs love the coolness. I wanted something that could go inside and out and knit everything together. The bluestone sweeps right through my bedroom to the bath and out to the back patio. All I have to do is slide open a big barn-style door and I feel as if I'm showering outside. My neighbor's cows often wander up to watch. I have a large shower, very practical when you have three muddy golden retrievers. They come in that door and I wash them all down.
Are those your dogs in the portrait?
They are. The one on the far left is Durham, our first golden retriever and the noblest creature we have known — man or beast. That's who the ranch is named after. Then there's Baxter and Claire.
Dogs, cows, friends — and a good bottle of wine. Sounds idyllic. But you're a designer, and by definition obsessive. How do you design a house that feels relaxed?
First of all, we stayed true to what was already here. I didn't want to create one of those year-in-Provence, Tuscan-sun moments. Napa is already too full of that. In restoring the property, we wanted to pay tribute to the classic California ranch. Everything is white and stark against the ever-changing landscape. Who could compete with those majestic hundred-year-old oak trees? This is a weekend house, and I wanted it to be easy and livable. No precious materials, no sweet little lace doilies. You don't have to ask if it's okay to sit in this chair or worry about what's on your feet when you walk inside. In the past, I used to feel more relaxed when I rented a house on vacation, because I didn't have to fuss over it or apologize for it. I vowed not to let that happen here. I just loosen up, and let myself breathe.
INTERIOR DESIGN BY KEN FULK
INTERVIEW BY CHRISTINE PITTEL
PHOTOGRAPHS BY VICTORIA PEARSON
PRODUCED BY MARY EMMERLING
-Make your life beautiful!!!