Walk into Doug Kilgour and Anne Hilbert’s great room, and you immediately see a wine cellar.
Not the kind modestly tucked behind the stairs, but a backlit, 12-by-12 foot showpiece that gleams from behind 10-foot-high glass doors. It’s a form of utilitarian art that represents the spark and motivation behind this couple’s Templeton dream home.
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As Menlo Park residents, they ventured south for wine vacations during their courtship and eventually married at Thatcher Winery in Paso Robles eight years ago. Plans to eventually move to the area were put into high gear in 2012 when they discovered a three-acre lot for sale in Santa Ysabel Ranch, encircled by oaks and backing up to open space. They viewed the site, made an offer, and sketched out house plans on the three-hour drive home.
The couple hired Ted Plemons Construction and Wulff Design & Drafting. Michele Fanning of Design Collaborative was the interior designer, and Ian Charnley of Tomascapes was the landscape designer and installer.
The look of the 3,100-square-foot house brings together everything the couple grew to love about North County — its rural feel and wine. Add to this their taste for clean lines, and the result is modern farmhouse style with wine country influences.
The modern farmhouse look marries rustic elements and unfussy, contemporary design.
The exterior combines board and batten siding with stucco. The Cor-ten steel roof, commercial-grade metal windows and doors and clerestory windows underscore the barn aesthetic. A row of 11 red barn light fixtures illuminate the covered porches on the side and back of the house. Even the doorbell is old-school: An old ships’ bell heralds guests’ arrival.
Inside, engineered oak flooring has the look and feel of reclaimed wood. It runs unbroken throughout the house, its dark finish contrasting with the farmhouse white walls. Beams line the ceilings in the great room and kitchen. A rolling barn door, made from salvaged 1870s barn wood, separates the dining room from the kitchen.
The kitchen was an important feature for this couple, who enjoy cooking and entertaining. Its centerpiece is a 9-by-5-foot island that is one solid slab of soapstone, with no stove or sink to break up its sleek lines. Soapstone was ideal for this application because it “is impervious to acid and heat,” said Kilgour. Simple Shaker style cabinetry runs throughout the kitchen and the rest of the house.
Furniture came mostly from their previous home, with a few new items that work with the modern farmhouse aesthetic.
In the living room, the couple uses an antique fruit barrel from India as a side table next to their contemporary sofa. This table and several other rustic pieces came from Habitat Home & Garden in San Luis Obispo.
Leather chairs, the dining room suite and rugs are from Crate & Barrel. A coffee table crafted with a galvanized steel top and iron base from an old foundry come from a Connecticut shop called RT Facts.
Aside from the 1,000 bottle-wine cellar that requires a library ladder to reach the top of, the couple incorporated other features to take full advantage of their wine country lifestyle.
Oversized windows, unmarred by window coverings, bring in pastoral views in nearly every room. The back patio includes an outdoor kitchen and a saltwater pool and spa by Blue Heron Pools that overlooks the oak-lined valley.
A 750-square-foot guest house over the garage accommodates their numerous overnight guests. And two offices, on separate wings of the house, allow the couple to work remotely from home (she is an attorney, he is a consultant and also has a line of artisan-produced olive oils and vinegars).
In the end, those first sketches turned out to be nearly identical to the finished structure, which Kilgour believes “will age gracefully and never be outdated.” The home is what the couple always hoped for and envisioned — as is their new, wine country lifestyle.
COUNTERTOP FOR COOKS: Soapstone is a good choice for cooks as it handles heat well and resists staining. It does require regular oiling if you want it to darken evenly over time.
ENGINEERED WOOD FLOORING: Engineered wood is made from a hardwood veneer that is glued over plywood. Engineered wood can be more cost effective than hardwood and is easier to install. The Kilgour-Hilbert home has a type of rustic engineered oak from Castle Combe named Malmesbury, which has the look and feel of reclaimed wood.
ART IN THE EVERYDAY: Utilitarian items become like a piece of art when thoughtfully designed. The Kilgour-Hilbert house has a large flat screen television set into a niche so that it is flush to the wall. The effect makes what could be an imposing piece of electronics look like a framed art piece. Their wine cellar, when backlit, painted red and showcased through glass doors, makes a strong design statement in their great room.