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George Googins’ home appears like a hacienda perched up in the vast brown landscape of Andalusia. But in fact, the Spanish-Moorish style house that George built — parts of it with his own hands — is nestled among the grassy folds above Chileno Valley on ranchland that has been in his family for generations.

He spent 25 years planning and envisioning it in his mind, all the while collecting architectural salvage, ideas and pictures from his many travel adventures around the globe, storing it for the time when he would eventually build his dream hacienda.

The result is a house that is singularly his own, filled with unexpected surprises, and designed not to impress anyone, but only to please his own eyes and stir memories of places he’s been and people he has known.

“It was truly an art project and I really enjoyed the whole process,” said Googins, who acted as his own general contractor, working closely with a talented carpenter, Johnny McCulloch of Windsor, who figured out how to make Googins’ designs and ideas work.

“I couldn’t have done it without him,” he said.

The beauty of the house is in the details — the rounded iron grills over the windows that he had admired in Tunisia and that cast ornate shadows on ochre walls, the timeworn doors layered with flaking patina brought from Mexico and the half circular metal arches tucked above doorways. There are the pendant light fixtures from Morocco with delicate cut-out designs that make the light pour through like diamonds and the giant Talavera ceramic pot he bought and trucked up from Dolores Hidalgo near San Miguel de Allende.

“I had this file that went back 25 years, where I collected various stuff. So I knew what I wanted,” said Googins, a tall, lean man of 72, who favors his Irish side, with a light and slightly freckled complexion and blue eyes. A former bond department manager for a global financial services firm, he retired at the young age of 39 and hit the road, traveling the world, from the Amazon to Southeast Asia.

While he didn’t grow up in Chileno Valley –– his father, Paul, was a civil engineer for the U.S. Forest Service and the family moved around — it had been his ancestral home since the mid 19th century.

He made his way back in later years, living for 14 years in a small Victorian farmhouse on the hilly land he inherited that straddles the border of Sonoma and Marin counties. It came down to him through his mother, Anita Dolcini Googins. She was descended from Carlo Martinoia, a Swiss immigrant who came to Chileno Valley in 1852 and bought his first ranch in 1856. It was another great-great grandfather, John Gallagher, an Irish immigrant, who bought the ranch in 1862 where Googins now lives. He sold it 10 years later. But then, in 1918, Googins’ great-grandfather Peter Dolcini, who had married Anita Martin, a granddaughter of Carlo Martinaoia, bought the ranch, bringing it back into the family, where it has remained for a century.

Googins’ sister, Sally Gale, lives nearby on Chileno Valley Ranch in a valley where the name Dolcini is still common. Their mother died at her daughter’s home in 2015 at age 99.

“My mother grew up over those hills in Hick’s Valley, across from Lincoln School,” he said, pointing out in the distance across hills as pale as sand in the summer heat. “All the kids spoke Swiss (an Italian-Swiss dialect) at recess.”

The home, which sits on the Sonoma County side of the ranch, reflects both his family roots and his peripatetic life.

He keeps mementos of his mother, like a photograph displayed in a wooden box shrine, one of a number of similar rustic antique shrines he sourced from Brazil and incorporated into wall niches and even used as a medicine cabinet. He also has displayed large reproduction maps of The Chileno Valley in the 19th century, bearing familiar as well as long-gone places and names.

Among the most distinctive features are the Tunisian windows with fancy iron grills reminiscent of North African’s French influence. Each are 150 to 200 years old and came with the original wood window casings. A cupola over the kitchen that he had made in Mexico and copper caps on the chimneys, help set this home apart from other Wine Country homes with a Mediterranean feel.

Everywhere Googins has incorporated the old with the new. He had kitchen cabinets made and distressed to match an antique wall cabinet from Tunisia that he found and fancied. Other elements are designed to look old — wood beams and doors he distressed, the stained concrete floors and counters he poured himself, the tile work he had made in Los Angeles from an old design he fell in love with at the Biltmore Hotel in Santa Barbara.

Fortunately, he found a local supplier, Tunisia-born Raouf Benfarhat of Petaluma, who sourced many of the North African details that captivated him as a traveler.

The most striking area of the house is the living room. Here the eye is fooled by multiple spectacular focal points. Along one wall above the sofa is a 2,000-pound stone relief carving depicting a fable about a fight between good and evil. Googins had it made in Cambodia, inspired by a carving in Angkor Wat, a massive complex of ancient temple ruins in Cambodia.

Googins combed the nearby city of Siem Reap before he finally found the stone carvers he was told could handle the commission. But that was only part of the story. He stored it for years in a barn. When it came time to build the house he had to design and engineer the wall where it would be displayed, so that it could handle the 1-ton piece.

In contrast to the rustic stonework is the ceiling, an Old World masterpiece painted in gold leaf in a spiral vine pattern. To create this he went to Agustin Parra, a master of the decorative arts from Guadalajara, who has done many pieces for the Vatican, including reliquaries, sculptures and a papal chair.

Designing to accommodate non-standard doors, windows and other architectural elements was more challenging than he imagined going into the project. And the whole process took five years, with Googins doing much of the labor himself.

But the result is a home that is so much more reflective of who he is and how he wants to live at this point in his life. Every detail means something to him. He remembers the problem solving, the creativity and the occasional aggravation that went into every nook and cranny.

“Anybody can buy something. It just takes money,” he said. “But it’s different when you put your own physical labor into it. This is my house. It’s not something I bought because I liked 80 percent of it. I like 100 percent of it because I designed and built it.”

You can reach Staff Writer Meg McConahey at meg.mcconahey@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5204. On Twitter @megmcconahey.