The Big Barn House in Sonoma Valley by Faulkner Architects
Photography by Joe Fletcher

The Big Barn House by Faulkner Architects Is A Perfect Example of Hillside Architecture

California’s wine country is the perfect setting for the Big Barn House, offering picturesque views, exaggerated landscapes and rolling hills. The hills can be seen with beautiful oak trees and agricultural buildings.

The home sits in Sonoma Valley in the town of Glen Ellen.

The Big Barn House design was first envisioned by a family that wanted to create a getaway that allowed them to find some sort of relief from the urban lifestyle. While a lot of families like to be in big, over-exaggerated homes, this family wanted a weekend getaway that worked with the region’s terrain.

One of the main goals was to avoid the home looking inauthentic in the natural rolling hills.

Faulkner Architects was the chosen as the Sonoma barn architects for the job.

The architects and the family building the home already had a good working relationship when the family hired the firm to convert a tack barn into a minimal bunkhouse. The owners actually stayed in this bunkhouse until their larger house was completed.

The family already had a style in mind at the time of hiring the firm. While the newer house is much more luxurious and larger, the older house used reclaimed wood and weathered steel throughout its 389 square foot design.

Faulkner Architects Brought the Project to Life

Photography by Joe Fletcher

Faulkner’s client list includes several high-profile celebrities. The team is known for using natural finishes and drawing upon the surrounding terrain when building a home. The firm was started in 1998 and focuses primarily on rural setting homes.

Inside the Big Barn House

This home spans 3,900 square feet over 2 stories and features a rectangular design. The home is highly influenced by the bunkhouse, and you’ll find that it has salvaged redwood and Corten steel used in the design.

When looking up at the roof, you’ll see an asymmetrical gabled roof that provides emphasis on the home. There’s a large chimney off of the facade that runs down one entire side of the residence, allowing it to stick out and become a focal point.

The beautiful colors of the redwood exterior meld perfectly with the landscape that is covered with green trees and a vibrant blue sky.

The architects worked with the owners to create be home on a gentle slope that minimizes the disturbance of the site while also allowing for great views. The hillside was left intact without any grading.

Sun influenced certain design decisions because the architects and family wanted to create a space that didn’t get too hot due to the immense number of windows in the home. What they decided to do was, on the smaller side of the roof, where the sun is really intense, they limited the windows to ensure that heat generation was reduced.

But other areas of the home are more transparent, blending the indoors with the outdoors. The kitchen area is filled with large-scale windows that cover the space and allow for natural daylight to illuminate the interior. The kitchen features beautiful hardwood cabinets and countertops with an open, airy feeling in the room.

Large sliding doors allow you to walk from the kitchen into the rear terrace.

Guests can clearly see the connection with the landscape thanks to the interior design.

On the upper story of the home, you’ll find the master suite with two bedrooms. There’s a beautiful steel bridge that connects the level to the hillside. The lower floor includes a living room, guest bedrooms, dining room and kitchen.

Double height ceilings are featured in the great room to offer an exaggerated space.

The 2-story barn house has glazed joints and vertical slit elements when walking in the front door. The southeast gable has a large vertical wood shutter that can open and allow for strong breezes to flow through the home for natural cooling.

Energy usage was one of the home’s main focal points. In an effort to conserve energy, the home’s mechanical systems were built to be highly efficient and to minimize the home’s energy usage.

Sleeping areas remain comfortable and are the only areas of the home to feature radiant flooring and cooling systems.

The Big Barn House offers a perfect example of how hillside architecture can be completed with minimal disturbance of the natural surroundings.

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