The ABC'S of Sonoma's Smaller Homes
Presented by Jacque Scott
Sonoma is a small town with a long tradition of reverence for its past. When you walk along or drive the many streets you will see why it is considered an ideal destination for creating a home.
A remnant of Sonoma’s past, the adobe homes in our community, are treasures that should be preserved. These homes, the few that remain, reflect an important time in the early history of this lovely town. Their style is quite unique and they were primarily hand built with local materials, their thick walls provide insulation from the elements and create a quiet interior. These benefits of adobe construction has been the focus for those who are designing and building sustainable homes. The use of straw bale and compacted or rammed earth has seen a resurgence of the hand crafting that was a part of our early history. There are many fine examples of both the older adobe and the modern straw bale and packed earth homes located here. If you are looking for a home that carries historical interest and hand built elements, look for these. Become one of the caretakers of our cultural history. Not an easy task yet quite rewarding.
The bungalow is another of our historical designs, with many fine examples here, especially on the east side of Sonoma. Many of the older ones have been tastefully restored and you will also see the bungalow style carried through in some new construction.
The Craftsman bungalow is especially sought after. With its fine detailing, the use of natural wood throughout, the earth tones and natural materials used, it makes a durable and esthetically pleasing home. The Craftsman style became popular when Bernard Maybeck was building shingle houses for the professors in Berkeley in the early 1900’s. The style captured the interest for living comfortably, in a well-crafted home that felt personal, with renewed importance to the structural rather than the applied elements. As an architect his work was dominated by a “search for truth” in design. His ideas and style of building spread throughout California particularly in the bay area, including Sonoma.
If you are lucky enough to live in a Craftsman bungalow, I urge you to think carefully and do some research before starting any renovations, additions, or decorating. There is a lot of information that is available from local architects, contractors, and design professionals in restoring a bungalow to its heraldic place in history. It is a joy and a very satisfying accomplishment for those who appreciate the details that made this style so revered. It’s that sense of history, the continuation from one era into the present that motivates us to take on this challenge.
A cottage, what an image that projects, traditionally was a small home that was simple, cozy, and with a garden. For many people, perhaps single, retired, or a couple who enjoy intimate settings, a cottage can be ideal. Words like comfort, charm, simplicity and romance suggest “cottage”, a serene retreat. It also makes for affordable living as fewer furnishings are needed, there are smaller spaces to heat or cool, and they have an unpretentiousness that can be soothing. Sonoma and the surrounding areas abound in cottages.
Cottages carry an early tradition, historically from England and Ireland, where they were simple hand built homes for workers. During California’s gold rush era cottages became popular for their simplicity and intimate lifestyle. They could be built quickly and economically, much of it with salvaged materials and built by hand.
In past years, when Sonoma was often a vacation retreat, the cottages were perfect for the getaway from the cities. Often sought after by artists and writers, they are now homes for those requiring a lifestyle that is manageable, comfortable and simple. They make a great starter home and the charm of a cottage cannot be denied. Now for many visitors their wish is to find that special house to make it their home.
There is a lot of pride in the neighborhoods in Sonoma, and it shows in the care of the homes and their gracious gardens. It is not an ostentatious town, more of a quietly elegant continuation of its history. People take great care of their homes, and that is obvious to anyone who is really looking to buy a home. There is good reason for that - this is a town with roots. Welcome to Sonoma!