A MAHOGANY BARN. A home built in pieces and scattered across a Napa Valley, Calif., vineyard. This is how a San Francisco businessman's private residence is shaping up at his 65-acre getaway ranch. “Instead of moving into a 5,000-square-foot house, you have these little houses moving throughout the vineyard,” says architect Mario Aiello, senior designer and associate of Dahlin Group Architectural Planning.

The original structure, which was built to resemble a barn, is a 996-square-foot guest house that the owner occupied while larger quarters were being built. From the outside, the red-stained cedar board-and-batten walls, the standing seam metal roof, and the 20-foot-wide front door appear to have been built to serve some agricultural use.

The interior belies that impression. The open floor plan features a large fireplace, stained concrete floors, and zinc and limestone countertops in the kitchen area. The walls are paneled in mahogany up to a height of 10 feet, where sandblasted stained cedar then takes over.

The barn was not designed for entertaining, so the separation between public and private space is tenuous at best. The bed area, separated from the rest of the room by a credenza, offers a modicum of privacy. “There's a very light separation between the bed area and the main public area,” Aiello says.

Central to the design is the view of the vineyard, which is just outside. “You can open up the 20-foot door and the vineyard is 50 feet away,” he says. The overall design of the property, with its residences, recreation areas, groves, and vineyards spread along a path, Aiello says, was created for the owner to “experience the land,” which sits in a bowl with hills climbing away from the property on every side.

Aiello, a design veteran with 25 years of experience, marvels at all the attention the barn has received. “There is no spectacular design here, other than [it being] open to the vineyards,” he says. Still, he adds, “Everybody seems to enjoy that building.”

No doubt about it. This broad side of a barn is a hit.

CATEGORY: Custom home, less than 3,500 square feet; ENTRANT / ARCHITECT / INTERIOR DESIGNER: Dahlin Group Architecture Planning, San Ramon, Calif.; BUILDER: R.H. Hess Development, Napa, Calif.; LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: SDA Planning & Design, Napa

Builder Tip A Little Privacy The sleeping area is set apart from the rest of the space—but just barely. Tucked behind a credenza, a sleigh bed stands on a raised mahogany platform and is backed by a mahogany wall. In this way, tangled sheets can be kept hidden from the rest of the house, but someone lounging in bed is allowed an unimpeded view of the rustic terrain just outside.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: San Francisco, CA.