Designing the Perfect Vintage

Once the lot was chosen for the 2009 HGTV Dream Home it was time to decide what the house would look like. The design process began with a drive through Sonoma to get a sense of authentic Sonoma homes. It wasn’t long before the design started taking shape.

First, HGTV Dream Home planner Jack Thomasson described his vision to developer Steve Ledson, who made a few sketches. The rough drawings were taken to draftsman Norm Oliver, who has been friends with Ledson for more than 30 years and has drawn about 70 percent of the two-thousand homes Ledson has built. Oliver created the documents that guided builder Bruce Lee as he and his crew began building the house.

Located within an established community the HGTV Dream Home needed to look like it has been there since the 1800s, like so many other homes in the community. The need to blend in was the primary driver of the home’s design. “The details, of course, are important, and we drove around the town of Sonoma and looked for houses that could be inspiration for some of the detail,” Thomason says. “We found a house actually located really close to the square, and we got out. We studied this house. We took scouting photographs. We studied the pitches, the angles, the dimensions, the proportions. And we used that house to help us design a house that was inspired by historical Sonoma, but that was also in keeping with what we'd want in an HGTV Dream Home.”

Sonoma Living

The lifestyle of California wine country had a tremendous influence on the design of the home. The team’s goal was to create a house that fits into wine country, but also fits into a planned community, and this house accomplishes both, Thomasson says.

The house is inspired by the way Sonoma residents take advantage of the fabulous weather and spend much of their time living outdoors. “So we've got great porches on this house. We're gonna have some great outdoor spaces in our landscape. And then you carry that inside the house. So we're gonna have a phenomenal kitchen, for example, because this place is about feasts and wine and entertaining. We wanted to provide those spaces that you'll need to entertain in the way that people in Sonoma entertain,” Thomasson says.

Entertaining is a big part of Sonoma living, but there’s more to it than that. For example, a drive through the HGTV Dream Home’s Sonoma neighborhood reveals the lack of cars on the streets and the peace that results, said Ledson, who developed the community. “We put the garages in the back, so you don't see the cars. And if a guy has the garage door open, working in his garage, you don't see what's going on. You don't see his toys and motorcycles and laundry and stuff stacked in the garage.

“When you come home in the evening, you can sit on your porch and be a neighbor like when I was a kid. So here, people will be sitting out on their porches and be having a glass of wine. They'll be walking by saying, ‘Hey, Steve, how ya' doing? Hey, Tom. Bill … how's it going?’ The fences are not solid. They're wire. There's landscaping to give you your own quiet space. It creates a different feeling, and if you look at the homes here, you look at the roof pitches and the shadowlines, the architectural detail to the house, it also creates a very soft, peaceful feeling. It's relaxing,” Ledson says.

The Kitchen

A big part of Sonoma life is a home’s kitchen, which means the kitchen in this home will be well equipped, said Linda Woodrum, interior designer, who has been the interior designer for this and every other HGTV Dream Home project. “It's a fabulous cook's kitchen with amazing appliances; a 48-in. stove, great big hood, two refrigerators, two wine refrigerators, two dishwashers. It goes on forever. It'll be pretty amazing. But that's in the future. So right now when you walk in, it's kind of typical. But I want you to know in a couple of months, it's gonna blow you away,” Woodrum said.

Sonoma restaurants emphasize fine eating in a casual environment, so the HGTV Dream Home kitchen will be the kind where people will gather and cook together, Woodrum says, and the kind where the homeowner can't wait to have people over. “And you're right near the outside. You can go outside and eat.”