Sometimes the best collaborations aren’t marked by instant harmony but by welcomed challenges. Such was the case for this compound in Sonoma Valley, California, designed by Palmer Weiss with architecture by Charlie Barnett. As the decorator explains, she’d be able to nail straightforward English country house style any day, but the magic with this project came about thanks to her client’s distinct stylistic preferences.
“The clients definitely had a strong point of view that we sort of evolved together over time,” Weiss explains. “It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, Palmer, go do whatever the heck you want.’ They wanted it to be reflective of them as people, too, and of them as a family.”
The final product is a vacation property that balances the coziness of an English cottage and the material palette of Scandinavian design with the scale of a grand American vacation home. “The wife in particular is very savvy and very stylish, and so there was a lot of influence based on what she was interested in,” Weiss adds. “She was particularly taken with the aesthetics of Sweden, which informed some of our designs and proved to be a North Star.”
While some homes with high ceilings and abundant windows can feel impersonal, Weiss’s skillful use of texture throughout helps ground the abode. The architect, Barnett, relied on architectural details, like beams and tongue and groove details, to add further weight to the structure. This is especially evident in the great room, which includes the dining space, kitchen, and living area. “We didn’t want them being sheetrock boxes,” Barnett states. He adds that they were able to make the scale of the space approachable “through the use of architectural details, and [by] complementing Palmer’s vision with fabrics, textures, and color.”
Weiss and Barnett came on the project as soon as the family bought the property in 2017, helping to develop what was then just an abandoned barn and a dirt road. “We had to figure out how we want this to fit into the land, while avoiding cliché and the look of every other barn and textured structure that’s in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. It was very much a collaboration,” says Palmer. The process took three and a half years in all, with Weiss and her team picking out every detail for the interiors, right down to the garbage cans.