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Wine Country Home Dressed in Neutrals

A family-friendly home east of San Francisco welcomes in warm hues and fabulous texture

Written and produced by Julianne Hilmes Bartlett

Once upon a time, dedicated homeowners camped out for two nights on a parcel of hard-to-come-by California land in order to secure the lot for their future home. The lot in question was located in a family-friendly neighborhood of Livermore—one of California’s oldest wine regions. The homeowners’ diligent effort paid off. The home was completed in 2002 and is conveniently within walking distance of many of the city’s wineries. By 2016, the homeowners were ready to update their dream home, so they called upon San Francisco-based designer Kriste Michelini. “These clients are dream clients,” Michelini says, “everyone loves them.” For the interiors, Michelini took direction from the natural surroundings and the homeowners’ passion for wine and entertaining by creating a home that flows from room to room and from indoors to out. The result: earthy tones and textures in a home that is California casual yet warm and inviting.

Dream clients. Dream home. Scroll through to see the fairy-tale ending. 


The gracious living room is ideal for entertaining. Two separate seating areas create intimate spaces for immediate family to gather, but provide easy flow for a larger group. A wine barrel in the informal seating area holds sentimental value. It was signed by nearly 100 friends and family members at a party marking the 50th birthday of one of the homeowners. 


Stone walls, a wooden mantel, nubby rug, and wing chairs upholstered in luxurious faux leather infuse the living room’s second sitting area with texture. A fireplace warms the cozy space, which is as ideal for board games as it is for wine tastings.


A striking 68-by-78-inch mirror framed in reclaimed oak steals the show in the dining room. Chairs from Holly Hunt pull up to an X-base dining table from Gregorius Pineo. Heathered flannel drapery panels soften the space and frame the doors leading outside.


Sub-Zero, Wolf, Viking, and Dacor appliances provide all the necessary function in this high-end kitchen. The warm tones used throughout the house carry into this space courtesy of a barn-style pantry door and a wood prep countertop. A clever framed chalkboard in the pantry serves as a fun and easy way to keep track of the grocery list. 


A massive 90-by-90-inch Calacatta marble island surrounded by Palecek bar stools encourages gathering. A chopping block prep area warms the space and minimizes the scale of the island—a happy accident that came about when Michelini discovered that the marble slab was a few inches short of the entire island. A trio of glass pendants from Thomas O’Brien’s collection for Circa Lighting illuminates the work space. 


Complete with a wine rack, a beverage fridge, and Dacor’s WineStation, this area is Michelini’s favorite part of the kitchen. “This is a dream area,” she says. “It houses coasters, appetizer plates, and glassware so this unit can be self-sufficient for an impromptu wine-tasting party.” 


Drawers, hooks, and cubbies for baskets helps corral outdoor gear in the mudroom. 


“Command Central” lives inside a reclaimed-wood frame in the mudroom. A roll of paper to jot notes, a calendar, and clock, as well as a place for everyone to place their own keys and mail helps contain the business of life into one designated area.


A generous U-shape sectional from Perennials anchors the family room. A NanaWall opens up to the outdoor dining room and pool area, creating a natural extension of the living space. 


The cabana near the pool is a year-round favorite. “In the colder winter months, it’s the husband’s favorite place to watch sports,” says Michelini. “He’ll spend an entire Sunday out there, fireplace lit and football game on.” In the warmer months, the cabana’s NanaWalls fold back to create the ultimate space for outdoor living and entertaining.


The neutral color palette from the main house continues here, but expands to include a pretty blue. Bar stools from Palecek pull up to a bar area stocked with snacks and beverages. Family and friends are encouraged to help themselves.


Kriste Michelini is the principal and founder of San Francicso-based Kriste Michelini Interiors.

Photography: Thomas Kuoh