By Carolyn Weber Because of the city of Sonoma, Calif.'s strict architectural guidelines, the Larwin Co. couldn't use any of its existing plans in its new 47-lot community called Vintage Sonoma. The guidelines required a 40 percent maximum lot coverage and detached or set-back garages. The builder called upon architect Philip Volkman, a partner in the Danville, Calif.-based firm of Barry & Volkman, to design some new smaller plans with exteriors that reflected the wine country vernacular.

The 1,804-square-foot cottage plan, which starts at $585,000, is the smallest in the development. For the city to allow the conventional siting with a front-loaded, attached garage, Volkman pushed the garage back 22 feet from the property line. Then he pulled the spare bedroom forward 5 feet to minimize the visual impact of the garage. "That was enough to satisfy them," he notes. He also dropped the garage roof from an 8:1 pitch to a 10:1 to further de-emphasize it.

Volkman freshened up the exterior of the little ranch house with paneling from Cedar Valley Shingle Systems. "The system is simple," Volkman says, "you just put the sheets up over plywood." He feathered the corners of the shingles for a softer look. The HVAC vent in the front gable is an old Craftsman-style detail with a simple pattern constructed with 2x3s and 2x2s with a basic screening behind it.

Photo: Robert Brown and Associates

Vintage Sonoma is aimed at empty-nest buyers. The floor plan is a great room concept with large, informal living spaces, yet it also features a proper entry foyer, making the home feel larger. The kitchen, with a 10-foot ceiling, is an open L-shape with an island to define the dining room. High kitchen shelves create the illusion of a wall and provide lots of useful storage. Volkman maximized the tight 50-by-110-foot lot by pushing the master bedroom out and pulling the living room in to create more yard space. A recessed space between the master bath and laundry room creates an outdoor dining area off the great room. "This house is perfect for an infill house," says Volkman. "You could plop it down in any older neighborhood."

Photo: Robert Brown and Associates

Category: Single-family production home, less than 3,000 square feet; Entrant/Architect/Land Planner/Landscape Architect: Barry & Volkman Architects, Danville, Calif.; Builder/Developer: Larwin Co., Danville; Interior Designer: Creative Design Consultants, Costa Mesa, Calif.

Lattice Work

"The trellis detail is just enough to keep the elevation from looking flat without being overkill," says Philip Volkman, who created the structure with standard materials, including brick bases and 6x12 columns. "The columns were easily routered to create a softer, more delicate trellis," he adds.

  • 2x4s at 6 inches on center with coved ends

  • 6x10 beam with shaped end detail

  • Two 2x8 trellis members each side of posts

  • Two thru bolts with washers at post tops and beams

  • Tapered posts from 6x12 on each side of the beam

  • Hold downs at each post into concrete plinth

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