In Paso Robles wine country, amidst the hills and vines of Booker Vineyard’s 100-acre property, is a new tasting venue with a lounge-y vibe that invites guests to gather with friends, settle in and make themselves at home.
Signum Architecture’s minimalist design honors the California winery’s natural surroundings, matching the sensibilities of owner and vintner Eric Jensen, whose respect for the land is central to his winemaking approach. The fracture patterns of the area’s limestone soil, for example, were used as the basis for the layout of the structure’s long walls. The restrained material palette includes cedar, board-formed concrete and natural steel, which architect Juancarlos Fernandez says “will rust over time, just like the stakes at the end of each vine row.”
The architecture is complemented by understated interiors by Katie Martinez Design, whose warm, light color palette was also inspired by the limestone soil. Tactile surfaces abound— from raked limestone bathroom tile and bleached walnut and white oak cabinetry to cedar siding and beams and burnished brass at the bar front.
The new spaces set the stage for various experiences at the winery, from a VIP limestone cave tasting with the owner’s personal library of wines, to an afternoon of “Bocce and Bottles” on a private outdoor lounge area.
There’s something almost primordially comforting about living in the mountains. In the quiet seclusion of the surrounding landscape, time seems to slow down so one can truly savor moments of laughter and joy, swapping stories by the fire. This is what Craig and Mariah Morris craved most for their Aspen home. Though they love the contemporary structure—with its bright, voluminous rooms and expansive windows that perfectly capture views of the awe-inspiring mountainside—they also craved something more intimate and cozier. They turned to designers Joe McGuire and Matthew Tenzin to cultivate close-knit gathering spaces perfect for cocktail hours and family dinners.
Originally built in 1977, the mountain abode was renovated in 2019 by the previous owner into its sleek statement of glass and sunlight, made in consultation with architect Scot Broughton. In their work, McGuire and Tenzin especially delight in making such grand contemporary structures feel welcoming and human-centric. “People seem to be drawn to us to create cozy interiors in these types of spaces,” notes McGuire. “We balance the architecture and complement it, so it doesn’t feel cold and stark.”
The home already provided an inspiring canvas for the designers to explore, and they found able partners in general contractors Thaddeus Eshelman and Jimmy Terui, who also oversaw the 2019 renovation. Collaborating on the new customizations with McGuire and Tenzin “was the bow on the present,” notes Terui. “All of their final touches really put it over the top.” Together, they focused on incorporating new finishes that would add more visual weight to the interior’s broad white walls and pale oak flooring. The abode featured black metal-framed windows and ceiling box beams that cut through the light and airy spaces, and the designers emphasized this juxtaposition by adding a few bolder finishes, such as staining the kitchen cabinetry in a deep ebony hue. The rich color “gives some structure and energy to the space, so it’s not just neutrals,” Tenzin explains.
To temper the angularity of the architecture, the designers introduced some curved elements to the interiors. “Right now, we have this desire for softer lines, yet still done in a very contemporary way,” says Tenzin. This was the guiding principle behind selecting the new furnishings and accents: all are unequivocally modern in silhouette, but never too sharp or sleek. Chairs and sofas have rounded backs and arms softened with tactile materials like shearling, wool and saddle leather. Mixing abstract designs with traditional Moroccan weaves, “the rugs are also really special, as they add a lot of comfort and interest,” says McGuire. The couple’s bedroom in particular is a study in tactile layering, with an upholstered bed frame, a fabric-paneled wall and artful Apparatus sconces featuring wefts of horsehair. “Textures were a key part of adding in that warmth to the home,” notes Tenzin about their overall approach.
The designers also kept everything within an organic palette borrowed from the surrounding mountain woodland to create cohesion. “Golden tones from the aspens, amber tones from the scrub oaks and greens from the evergreens all filter in through the house,” notes Tenzin. And in the couple’s serene main bedroom “there’s a little bit of a lavender hue that relates to the lavender and sage that grow so beautifully here in Colorado.” Artwork introduces more personal and playful notes of color, like the specially commissioned comic book-inspired piece by artist Nelson De La Nuez, which serves as a touching reference to the couple’s love story.
A self-confessed lighting fanatic, Tenzin was particularly passionate about how they would illuminate the home. Style wise, materials ranged from minimalist black metal to delicate amber glass globes. But “it was also really important for us to find LED fixtures that get warm as you dim them,” he explains. “It’s so critical for creating the right vibe.” These technical details are very much like “the difference between gray, cool lighting, which makes everybody look like a ghost, and that beautiful candlelit feel where everyone looks glamorous,” adds McGuire.
Nestled in this soft glow and laden with lush textures, the dwelling now feels more approachable. And for the designers, there’s nothing better than infusing soulfulness into such shiny, modern spaces. As McGuire says, “When you can walk in and see the family truly relaxing in their own home, that’s a feeling of success for us.”
When it comes to her list of wants, Gale Singer, founder and president of Circa Lighting, does not waver. She is as discerning about crown molding (pass), vibrant art (irresistible) and window treatments (no, thank you) as she is about pendants, sconces and chandeliers. After about 15 years of pondering, her agenda for her own Savannah home pinpointed everything from a high-functioning kitchen with great traffic flow to pocket glass doors that open to reveal a saltwater pool and sculpted greenery. Once she found a lot she loved in an eclectic, tucked-away neighborhood not far from the Vernon River, all those years of dreaming finally came to fruition.
By the time she turned over her inspiration folder to Rudolph Colby—the residential designer behind more than a decade’s worth of Circa Lighting stores—Gale felt confident he was the person to bring her vision to life. “Rudy is an artist,” she says of Colby, who, working with general contractor Josh Brooks, also orchestrated the home’s landscaping and pool. “He has a wonderful sense of style, detail and proportion. His designs are classic and timeless.”
Gale is a hands-on client. “The most fun we have, ever, is when we sit down together, spread out a piece of paper and each pick up a pencil,” Colby says of their tactile process. Having initially conceived of an on-site renovation that ultimately had to be scrapped due to water damage beneath the property’s existing house, the residential designer’s “take two,” as he calls it, followed the original home’s layout quite closely. What transpired was a practice in extreme simplification, subtracting everything extra. “Any time there was a line or shadow that could be removed from a window or door or piece of hardware, she would nix it,” Colby says of his client, who dictated the project’s concealed door hinges and nearly invisible reveals.
“There’s nothing trendy about it,” Gale adds of the residence, which cleverly combines modern-leaning and ranch-inspired influences behind a façade of slender white Norman brick and horizontal board-and-batten siding. Though her linear, tightly landscaped home might diverge from the typical Lowcountry vernacular, it’s connected to the fabric of the city in a manner very personal to its owner: fine art. “I’m lucky to live in a place with such close access to the Savannah College of Art & Design and all the wonderful artists that have come out of that university,” says Gale, an ardent collector.
Her expansive art assortment comes to life thanks to sizable skylights—Colby’s solution for illuminating the east-west-oriented house from the inside out. “You get direct sun at different times of the year, and it’s really quite fabulous,” Colby reveals. As a lover of natural light, Gale eschewed window treatments in most rooms, adding extra layers by way of Circa Lighting fixtures. However, her selections were not chosen for dramatic impact, rather for subtlety. Most had remained stalwarts on her personal wish list for years—particularly a pair of Thomas O’Brien-authored pendants named in her honor, which today suspend over her kitchen island.
To ensure interiors that would incorporate all of these items masterfully, the discriminating homeowner looked to Michael Del Piero, a designer whom Gale praises for her “neutral palettes, and ability to layer textures and to curate objects.” Del Piero, who had previously designed Gale’s Chicago loft, has long felt a sense of aesthetic alignment with her client. “What Gale wanted is what my firm is known for: livable, approachable and interesting interiors with nothing too precious or fussy,” she notes.
Decorating decisions between the two were uncommonly swift, with most made on a single trip to High Point Market. “For three days, in the pouring rain, we literally furnished the entire house, inside and out,” Del Piero recalls. Together, the pair selected deep sofas with simple lines, intriguing Louise Nevelson-esque nightstands, even an oak dining table to sub as an oversize desk in the grass cloth-clad home office. “Gale is super no-frills; she wants the best but she wants it simple,” says Del Piero, who finished off spaces with antique rugs to warm up the sleek wood and stone floors.
In sum, the lighting maven’s Savannah home demonstrates her strong understanding not only of design, but of herself. No space is wasted, and every element is optimized for the way she wants to live. “She has a really sharp eye,” Colby concludes. “There’s a place for everything and everything has meaning. And I think there’s a strong reason for that: Gale sees things differently.” Certainly, in the case of curating her own home, she’s seen the light.