Saddle Peak House is a breathtaking modern vacation villa in Topanga Canyon above Los Angeles, overlooking the Santa Monica Mountains and the Pacific Coast.
What is the story behind the Calistoga Estate, what was your inspiration to create it?
I am an interior designer by profession and have created several other vacation homes but have never seen a property quite like this one. It really is breathtaking, with redwood trees up to five feet in diameter and a creek running through it, all in the middle of Northern California’s wine country. The lot appears in the Napa County assessor’s records and I think it was initially given for free with a subscription to the “San Francisco Examiner”.
When I bought it, the existing dwelling was not habitable and it took me many years before I tore it down and rebuilt it with what you see today. Sonoma County is tough when it comes to building permits, so the process took a long time!
In the late-19th century, Calistoga was a logging town, so I wanted to make the house true to that era and the region — outlaws, Indians and hunters. Calistoga is the name given to the covered wagons with hook-shaped canvas tops that you see in old movies and this was my inspiration.
I also designed the property along the lines of a LEED-certified building as I wanted to make it as green as I could. We have state-of-the-art septic, rainwater capture and greywater filtering, as well as backup generators and radiant heat in the floor. It’s really cosy and well insulated.
How would you describe the atmosphere and interior design of Calistoga Estate?
It’s Victorian but poor man’s Victorian — like a cowboy’s barn that is being rented out for the weekend! There are 27-foot ceilings in the main living space (which is massive) and many of the fittings are from the 19th century. Anything that I could source from the period, I did. For example, the light fixtures in the kitchen are 1800s gas lamps that have been converted. All of the wood is reclaimed, which makes the house feel older than it is, and we have a lot of books on the Wild West and the 19th-century forestry industry for guests to read.