Over the summer Natalie and I had the incredible fortune of going to Napa and Sonoma County for some serious vineyard tours. We were part of a small group of three couples led by my friend Mike (of rock wall fame), who works in the industry here on the east-coast. The entire trip was incredible from start to finish, including a number of private vineyard tours and tastings not open to the general public. To top it off, two of the three couples (ourselves included) counted this amazing trip as our first vacation without our babies.
The details and stories are too numerous (and hazy – lets be honest, we drank a lot of wine on that trip) to recount in any number of blog posts. Instead, I’d just like to share some pictures we captured as decor inspiration for when we (grudgingly) returned back home. This first post will focus on just the exterior of one specific vineyard. I think I have enough material here to make it a running feature for a while. And like I said, it really would be too much to try to capture in one post. Over time I hope to implement some of these touches at Camp Davis or even at home, but for now I just have to look back in nostalgia while dreaming of the future.
One particular place on our trip just oozed Camp Davis inspiration from the moment we stepped onto the property. MacMurray Ranch (named after the actor Fred MacMurray, of My Three Sons fame, who owned the ranch before it became a vineyard), managed to capture that classic 1950s/1960s upscale farmhouse vibe that we have since fallen in love with.
In restoring the farm these folks really took their time and nailed every last detail. Going through pictures all these months later I’m still finding little hidden touches (like the above hose compartment to the right of the picture). Around just about every corner was another surprise worthy of a picture. Below you’ve got a horse-shoe pit, with the playing shoes hanging off a fixed horse shoe hanger. The old wood just screams history, while the chest-high rosemary makes for an aroma-filled (and edible) shrubbery, that doesn’t ever really need manicured pruning.
The rosemary-as-shrub concept is one I definitely plan to implement after the frost thaws this spring. It really is brilliant. Just plant it here and there and let it grow. I always cook with it anyway – why not have the outside of my house smell as good as the inside? I’m not even a shrub person really. In fact, I don’t particularly like them all that much. But when you start growing food in place of shrubs, you’ll get my attention.
I just love the following zoom-out of the barn. Particularly inspiring is the two-tiered sliding barn doors, giving you the option of closing it off entirely with the wood doors, or allowing the light to come in through the glass doors. They run on parallel tracks, making both all the more functional than either on its own.
The farmhouse itself was really just as humble (considering a movie star lived there and all) as the barns seemed to be. Again, I just love how they mix it up with the shrubbery. Below you can see the beginnings of lavender bushes under the bay window.
In keeping the exterior white, the grounds come off looking even greener than I could have imagined. For all the glitz and flash we try to put onto our houses, these guys really boiled it down to the bare essentials, and let the classic style speak for itself. Clean lines, white siding, modest in size, then let nature do its work. Just to the right of the above bump-out is the real kicker though:
Boom. Covered patio, with an outdoor dining area. I’ll get into the details of this a little more in a later post. After touring the property we were fed an amazing private lunch (with wine pairings of course). This touch of color and life, was the perfect compliment to the overall exterior design of the ranch.
While everything is maintained perfectly, the style is still pretty humble. Everything is rustic – lots of wood, brick and iron. You’re technically outside, and the decorating style doesn’t try to hide that.
If I could live anywhere in the world, this particular ranch house just might offer everything I could ask for.