The sun finally came out for an extended period of time and it meant that we’ve been able to get some footings dug around the main house and the final conduit work done. So the WWII-style tunnels are covered up and gas/electrical and plumbing lines are buried and connecting up 4 buildings on the property. Pool house is complete except for polishing the cement floors, which need to cure before they are buffed and sealed. I’ve moved my “office” into the pool house as we expect to be demolishing the areas of the main house that will undergo a transformation.
The garden is happy and we have lots of greens/lettuces to harvest and are awaiting the beets, onions and fava beans. We’ve started the okra, cucumbers and eggplants in the potting shed and they will be transplanted at the right time.
I’m loving the new fencing and even though I fought getting rid of the traditional white farm fencing…. The new black powder coated hog wire is a better look. It’s encased in a wood frame, painted a dark grey (Benjamin Moore Falling Night). Plans are to add more of the fencing in key areas as we complete the look.
Now—hoping for more dry weather so foundation can get poured and framing can begin on the main house.
Pool house is almost complete and has an excellent view of the gardens from inside. White fencing is gone and the new hog wire with dark grey framing is the new fence line.
Still need to pour final plaster color and then the pool will be complete. Notice the grey toned tile and coping.
The raised beds with winter cops and pool house in background
Pre-concrete pour of back of house with fig tree about to fill in with it's lush leaves.
Some pool house highlights. Still awaiting some finishing touches after we put in the water tanks and can pass the sprinkler inspections.
A custom built-in bookcase with a bit of ship lap in the background.
The main room of the pool house and the concrete floors (flannel colored) are curing and will be polished in several months.
The shower in the pool house. Waiting for Nebia shower to come in.
A Restoration Hardware find. Makes a special bathroom!
In spite of working around the rain that sometimes created a moat around the pool house, we kept plugging away at it. As it nears completion, I’m pleased with how it has turned out. We had a long (52 ft) building that was narrow (16 ft). One of the things we did to keep it looking like a trailer in the back yard—create an indentation in the middle of the building (see photo) and to have a cathedral ceiling through the entire building. In addition, we’ve added a lovely and useful built in cabinet with just the right amount of ship lap to give a farmhouse statement. We found a Restoration Hardware lavatory from their shutter line that is the perfect addition to the bathroom and finished it off with Pottery Barn hardware.
The floors are tinted concrete and after they are given time to dry out, they will be polished to highlight the flannel color with a bit of shine. Lighting from a variety of vendors and were chosen to give a nod to the farm motif without being overly thematic. And then there’s that sunny yellow Dutch door which just makes me smile every time I look out. Finally, we decided to give the exterior a polished finish with board and batten, metal roof, galvanized round downspouts and barn lights. Windows are graphite black exterior and bring together the white/dark grey theme.
The kitchenette is the last area to be completed but we decided to go with a Formica product that looks a bit like marble. It’s a good look and just perfect for a pool house.
We so desperately need sunshine in Sonoma that I decided to focus on finding the perfect yellow for my Dutch door (double hung/half door) on the guest house which will also be the front door color for the main house. I love all the names that the paint companies have used to describe yellows which are far less numerous than grays.
After narrowing the choices:
Benjamin Moore Stuart Gold- way too deep a Dijon mustard for me
Benjamin Moore Imperial- as bright as the brightest sunflower and a bit too electric yellow
Benjamin Moore Yellow Highlighter- exactly as the name implies and therefore not the front door statement I wanted
Sherwin Williams Sundance- very close but not quite it
The finalists came down to:
Benjamin Moore Raincoat: https://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/color-overview/find-your-color/color/2020-40/yellow-rain-coat?color=2020-40
C2 Bonjour: http://www.myperfectcolor.com/en/color/12765_C2-C2-3065-Bonjour
An interesting market study. I painted the swatches on foam core board to show around-- all the men picked the same color and the women picked the other…. with the 12 plus folks that I asked, the gender preference was clear.
Check out the colors and I’ll let you know with the next post which I chose and see if you were in keeping with the male vs female yellow color preference.
Raincoat yellow as the chosen door color
We are thankful for rain, but January 2017 delivered up the most rain in Northern California in 22 years. I like to think that we've stress tested the property. It also meant that we decided to raise the pool house up about 6 inches given that Canappela Farm is on completely flat terrain. The vineyard that we abut is about 6 inches higher than our acre.
Yet, we made headway in December and January. The pool got poured and gunnited and promptly filled with water before we could get on the coping or plaster and tiles in. We are hoping that will happen before the next big rain storm that is predicted for the end of this week.
The week of dry days meant that we could get the pool house exterior painted and start on the interior. Of course, I was ready with the colors after having agonized over 12 shades of grey/gray. Yes, I now think that grey might just be the hardest color to get right. I read so many blogs that described the colors, but until you see swatches in situ, you just can’t get it right. I’ll join the rest of the color experts and describe my impressions of the greys that I tried—searching for that not too warm, not too cool color.
I had ordered Magnolia paints https://shop.magnoliamarket.com/pages/paints because I’ve been taken with Joanna Gaines’ aesthetic when she does a farmhouse makeover. And while I generally liked the tones she has, they were much too dark/concentrated for the airy feel I wanted for my vaulted ceiling rooms.
Magnolia Loft- much too concentrated of a grey
Magnolia Cement- seemed almost lilac
Benjamin Moore Oracle- too cool
Sherwin Williams Repose- a nice grey that is warm and was close to
Benjamin Moore Gray Owl- seemed to be warm and cool at the same time
Benjamin Moore Stoningham Gray- too grey a tone for me
Benjamin Moore Intense White- misnamed as it’s a every so slight a grey to be called white
Benjamin Moore Blue Lace- too cool and too blue
Benjamin Moore Silver Satin- a runner up that could be used else where
Benjamin Moore Bunny Gray- seemed initially pleasing but it’s just too “soft”
Benjamin Moore Horizon- a beautiful tranquil color with a wisp of grey that might very well get used in the main house
Benjamin Moore Classic Grey- a classic as the name implies and only seems grey when you put it against a white.
The winners: Benjamin Moore Gray Owl for the main rooms. https://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/color-overview/find-your-color/color/2137-60/gray-owl?color=2137-60
Classic Gray for the bedroom and bathroom. https://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/color-overview/find-your-color/color/1548/classic-gray?color=1548
As we savor the Technicolor show that our persimmon tree is putting on to remind us that fall is leaving, we await the moment when they become ripe. There are 4 types of persimmons and ours is Hachiya. “The custardy flesh of a Hachiya, soft and squishy as jelly when it is ripe, makes a sweet, candy-like dessert. Those lucky enough to have a bountiful tree in their yard might even have enough to be able to save the flesh and freeze it for use throughout the year. We must patiently wait until it is ripe, and then dig into the gelatinous goo. But woe is you if you try to eat a Hachiya before its time. This is known as an astringent variety, which means it will be bitter, unpleasant and maybe even painful unless it is perfectly, squishy-ripe. It will suck the spit right out of your mouth with its soluble tannins. You have been warned. But when it IS ripe, you have also been warned that you might become addicted; that’s how good it is.”
These are not the type of persimmons to be dried, but we are going to experiment with canning/jamming them. If in Sonoma, stop on by to help us harvest and take some home.
No…. these are not olives (though we do have 1 olive tree)-- they are the last of the harvest of our purple tomatillos. Thanks Cooper for meticulously harvesting a basket of them. Note to readers, just rinse them off and freeze in a plastic bag for use later in the year.
Also, we anticipate one more batch of figs from our magnificent fig…. so 6 months of delicious black mission figs are earning this tree the distinction of being named the Queen of Canappela Farm!
Canappela Farm came to us with its own voice/style-- that of a farmhouse reimagined. The 1-acre property was built in 1958 by a retired San Francisco fireman and according to my neighbor and one of his best friends, he lovingly planted 10 walnut trees (2 different types and while we love the black walnuts, he preferred the larger variety in our front yard) and he also tended the very old fig tree carefully on the property so that it’s now truly a spectacular specimen. His favorite was the persimmon tree, which now that it’s early November, I can see why (see photo below). At various points in time, the property has also housed animals and I noticed in photos as recent as 5 years ago, there were animal pens where there are now raised vegetable beds. In addition, we have a lovely potting shed and well room with a good size storage area. Plans are to install a few chickens in the back and enclose them in a spiffy chicken coop so the local “vermin” don’t get them.
We haven’t totally decided what to do with the very large space that we call the “barn,” but I was told by our neighbor that it’s actually 2 portable school classrooms and has served many purposes through the years.
As I designed the addition to the house and the pool house, I decided to stay with the Farmhouse design theme that if Pinterest is any indication, seems to be the style du jour. I can honestly say that I inherited the aesthetic and the more time I spend with the design, the happier I am that we have this and not some Mediterranean knock-off that is so prevalent in Sonoma. I swear by this book and it’s guided much of my decision-making through the design phase: The Farmhouse: New Inspiration for the Classic American Home, Sept. 2006.
I can’t believe I am wishing for rain to cease in drought-plagued California. If predictions for El Nino are accurate, this may be a tough road to get this property done in a year. But Dino (my contractor) and I are determined!
Instead, I’m going to enjoy the bounty of the soil and focus on the beauty of nature as I watch the puddles expand on our construction site. I’ve included below, a collection of garden highlights over the last year and pictures I took of the grounds through various seasons.
It took 1 year for permits to be granted. We needed to come off the septic tank and hook up to a sewer line that ran down the middle of the street from a residence that found it necessary to abandon his septic when it failed. So, our gain—the ability to pay mightily to hook up to the county sewer system. We will stay on well water, but no longer have to deal with all the joys of maintaining a septic system.
Once permits were given, we were able to break ground, literally. As the topography reports revealed that the soil, which made everything grow so well, was full of clay and required much fortification for building on. So 50 yards of soil was withdrawn and new soil and rock brought in for the new pool house.
First up: the pool house. In an attempt to glam up a 58’ long x 16’ wide building that could have ended up looking like a trailer, we decided to add height. So, we now have a delightful pool house chapel. It also needed to block the neighbors’ party house that features every conceivable outdoor sporting activity in very small backyard. I think we have succeeded in doing just that.
Board and batten goes on before another rain storm comes in.
Slow progress due to intermittant rain storms. Milgard windows went in.
For years, we’ve contemplated how to create a place where we could celebrate all the things in life that we value: gardening, cooking, music, art and friendship. We’ve jokingly called it Canappela Compound. Canappela is blending of our last names and “compound,” well we can’t think of an alternative word. We’re not quite sure if we are of the commune or kibbutz mindset.
Last year, while dealing with the impending death of a mother and looking to sell some San Francisco property that had once been in a transitional neighborhood was now white hot in a trendy social media location-- the value was clearly climbing/peaking, we happened on a stunning piece of property in Sonoma, Ca. We had lived there for 18 years in a weekend home and we were now ready to look at it as our retirement community.
We knew we wanted to be as close to the town square as we are now and we also hoped to have some land to grow veggies on and have some chickens. So when we heard about a 1-acre parcel that had been designed by a flipper to appeal to urban gardeners wanting to expand into more nature, there was little to ponder.
Canappela Farm (our new name for the property) became ours in August 2015. See the realtor pictures of the cottage and property-- creatively brought up to date in good taste. Now we just to put our imprint on it to make it uniquely ours.