So, I’ve been self described as Modern Farmhouse for quite a time now, and yet, today I believe it’s time to change my tune or at least to tweak it.  I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t really mean much anymore.  Or, should I say.  It just doesn’t mean…much any more.  Honestly, I think that what the style started out as was pure.  It was authentic.  A genuine homestead by all measures.  It was simple.  It was kind, warm and inviting.  It had been standing for years.  Possibly generations.  Unfortunately now though, I’m afraid that it has become a trend.  Ugh.  It’s become commercialized, commoditized and bastardized.  People by the droves are latching on to “tag line” features.  Barn doors, farm sinks, shiplap…  And if you know me at all, then you know that the last thing that I would ever want to do is go along with the crowd.  Not my bag.

So, I took a step back to have another look.  The essence of the Modern Farmhouse is still there for me.  The comfort is what I am drawn to.  In the finer examples, you’ll find the substance.  The home’s solid construction.  It’s use of lasting materials and timeless finishes.  Great techniques.  And, in my world, these are essential.  They are, of coarse, not exclusive specifically to this particular genre.

So, what is it that so captivates me.  To figure it out, I had to go deeper.  I had to discover the root of the essence.  For me, the trouble with most of the reproductions of the modern farmhouse today is that they are flimsy, weak and even somewhat plastic like.  The care and craftsmanship is simply not there.  The design is completely lacking and with practically zero attention to detail.  They are created in large part by complete novices.  Leaving us with a product that is, for lack of a better term, phony.

And then, ding, ding, ding…Aha !!!  I saw it clearly.  It’s the landscaping.  The connection to the land.  That’s the theme.  The string that runs through it.  The thing that makes it true.  The grounds make the home complete and whole.

Alright, confession time.  It was actually an architect and good friend of mine, Eduardo Contreras, who shed the light on this for me.  I had shared with him a couple of images of homes that I’d liked, curious to their style.  And he definitively said that my style was Napa Valley.  What??? Are you sure?  I would have never thought that.  Isn’t it funny how it takes someone with a keen intuition who can listen to what we are saying and then articulate our own disposition even when we can’t see it.  But, it’s true.  It’s as if the veil had been lifted from my eyes.  The grounds wrap the Home in beauty.  They make the Home feel like it fits.  Like they grew up together.  In harmony.  That’s what the Napa Valley product is all about.  You can’t have one without the other.  Even though there are numerous architectural styles in the valley, they all share the cohesive picture by bringing each of the elements into synch.

So for me, I can confidently say that my architectural style is

the Napa Farm Home.  Pretty cool.

Here’s a little sampling from Napa Valley firm Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects.












And, perhaps my all time favorite.


“Not only are all of these elements well conceived and executed, but all of them – woods, vineyards, plants, architecture, furnishings combine and interlock into a seamless whole”.

Stanley Abercrombie,

Observations from the Hillside

Whenever you can harmonize the built environment with the ‘scaped environment, everybody wins.

Time to go plant something.

All my bests,


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