Design Your Perfect Backyard Space: Your Outdoor Home Guide

Outdoor Space

With summer here, it’s time to think about how to make the most of every square foot of sunny space. Here are some great ideas on how to do it, plus resources and inspiration.

A Sneak Peek at Stunning Photographs From the Forthcoming Book “At Home in the Wine Country

at home in wine country

If you’ve always dreamt of owning a home in Napa, Sonoma or nearby, At Home in the Wine Country (Gibbs Smith, August 24) deserves a place on your coffee table. Authors Heather Sandy Hebert and Chase Reynolds Ewald take readers inside 17 new, swoon-worthy wine country homes by elite architects and designers — and the photography is breathtaking.

The design of the homes is deeply attuned to the environments, which range from sun-drenched vineyard valleys to forested hillsides with challenging rock formations.  SPACES editor Liz Logan sat down with the authors to discuss what makes the new architecture of wine country so special. Read more.

3 Experts Share Their Best Tips for Maximizing Your Outdoor Spaces

Doheny Rd

The SPACES live virtual event “The Art of Living Outdoors” brought together three experts on design and gardening to discuss how Covid-19 has changed outdoor living, and what the future looks like.

We were joined by Jesse Harrison, principal of the international design firm Harrison Design (see one of their projects here); Heather Sandy Hebert, brand consultant and author of At Home in the Wine Country (photos here); and Ben Lenhardt, author of Gardens of North Shore of Chicago (photos here) and chairman emeritus of the Garden Conservancy. Read more.

A Tech Entrepreneur and Triathlete’s Elite Home Gym Wins a Gold Medal for Style

Private Gym

Triathletes are fanatical by nature. To swim, bike and then run for miles requires dedication and, of course, an amazing gym where one can train when the weather isn’t cooperative for cycling or running outside. Jim Westover, a partner and principal at the San Francisco-based firm William Duff Architects, recently finished a home gym for a triathlete that’s spades more stylish than the average basement corner.

“We started working for these clients in 2010 when we remodeled the family’s main house,” he says of the project, which is located on the San Francisco peninsula. “That renovation included a significant addition, gut remodel of the existing house and a new garage with a room that could be used as a gym.”

Westover and his team are known for award-winning residential renovations and new construction, as well as commercial projects such as retail stores and wineries. Loving their home renovation, the clients called Westover and asked him to add an addition to the garage, which would replace the relatively small gym with a first-class training center for the husband, who is a dedicated triathlete and a tech entrepreneur. Read more.

Take It Outside: These 4 New Furniture Pieces, from Dedon, Menu and More, Effortlessly Work Both Indoors and Outdoors

Extremis
Suddenly switching to work-from-home during the pandemic highlighted the value of flexibility when it comes to design. These furniture pieces work both indoors and outdoors, offering a ton of options when it comes to changing up the look of your home. Read more.

This Sonoma Home is an Ideal Blend of Indoor and Outdoor Living

After renting vacation homes in the Sonoma Valley community of Glen Ellen for over a decade, San Francisco real estate developer Howard Epstein and interior designer Tami Epstein found a property they had long admired was about to come on the market. “We’d been looking at this property through the gate for many years, but we never saw anyone there,” Tami says. “Then, one day we saw a sign for an estate sale, and went right in. We knew it was the one.” In spite of multiple bidders, the couple successfully purchased the home, closing on a Thursday. On Saturday they picked up the keys, spent some time at the house and walked the property, then they locked up and went home, excited about their new home. Read more.

A Marin Home Gets Remodeled for Outdoor Living

Rydal

Crafting the perfect home happens with many iterations. The Sullivan-Newman family’s journey started in 2016, with a significant remodel of their home’s interior.

Now, four years later, they have completed the finishing touches — the expansion of their outdoor living.

After they put their two-year old son, Axel, and one-year old daughter, MJ, to bed, Morgen Newman (the co-founder of Cora, an organic feminine products company) and Kayti Sullivan (a senior vice president at Yelp) will often crack open a craft beer, and sink into the hot tub on their deck, which, thanks to their wood-clad home’s location atop a steep hill, has unobstructed views of Mount Tamalpais. “Living here feels like being on vacation,” Sullivan explains. Read more.

Budgeting in a Home Remodel

home renovation

WATCH ANY HGTV home improvement show and you quickly realize the cost of remodeling in Marin County isn’t exactly commensurate with prices in the rest of the country. In fact, a luxury kitchen can cost as much as a turnkey home in other parts of the U.S. “For projects in Marin, you’re looking at renovation costs of around $400 to $600 per square foot,” says Michael McCutcheon, owner of the Berkeley-based McCutcheon Construction. But that’s only a rough estimate, he adds. “We’ve done jobs that cost the owner as little as $250 per square foot to as much as $2,000 per square foot. It depends on an owner’s expectations.”

While costs are admittedly steep, there’s a silver lining to living in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the nation: “Every dollar you spend on a kitchen or bath remodel returns up to $4 per square foot in resale value,” says Thomas Dreyer, president of the San Rafael–based Marin Realtors Association. There’s also value in simpler projects like creating a user-friendly entryway, updating flooring, redoing lighting, landscaping or just painting, assuming you don’t over-improve for the neighborhood. “The metrics are obviously different for a modest home in Terra Linda and a luxury estate in Belvedere,” Dreyer says.

Exact costs depend on a range of factors, including scope, finishes and just how much hand-holding you need. The all-in price for a DIY project, for example, will relieve you of considerably less cash than one that engages architects, engineers, contractors and interior designers.

Price aside, noise, mess and general interruption into your daily life during a full remodel is just too much for some homeowners. As an alternative, consider a soft remodel — one that doesn’t require construction, but can still go a long way toward making a dated house feel new. The results you can achieve simply by refreshing paint, flooring, fixtures and window treatments can be astonishing, especially if you spring for new furnishings. “It’s the reason I encourage clients to hire a stager when it comes time to sell,” Dreyer says. Read more.

Looking for more ideas? Have a look at our home resources guide.