1927 Sonoma home redesigned for sophisticated comfort and grandkids
The original essences of Kim Schuh’s home on the east side of Sonoma haven’t changed — a welcoming front porch, inviting window seats, mature trees. Yet this historic home, built in 1927, is vibrantly of the moment, newly energized with an open floor plan, a crisp white and gray palette, and furnishings that promise relaxed fun for Schuh’s family and friends.
Schuh still treasures memories of the years she spent raising her family in Philadelphia in an 8,000-square-foot traditional Georgian manse full of antiques and the requisite crystal and silver. But these days she thrives on elegant simplicity and surroundings untethered to the past. Life bounced her forward, and she couldn’t be more thrilled.
Schuh’s notion of heading West was fueled when her daughter came to the Bay Area for law school and found true love, a fulfilling career, and the desire to stay forever. When her first grandchild was born nine years ago, Schuh could resist no longer, finding a home in the Oakland Hills not far from her daughter’s family so she could help with the kids (there are now three) and be part of the daily swirl.
With time, she grew weary of the relatively urban environs, thinking how much she enjoyed day trips to Wine Country. Wondering if it would work to be an hour away from her cherished grandkids, she decided to experiment — she would rent a house in Sonoma for one year, and if it suited her she would buy a permanent home. “I called it my Four Seasons in Sonoma, but it didn’t take that long to know I loved Sonoma,” Schuh recalls. After six months she started house-hunting; she found the perfect one six months after that.
She quickly set about renovating it.
The remodel, designed by architect Robert Baumann and constructed by Steve Burlington, both Sonoma-based, took a year, and Schuh has now been happily residing in the 2,450-square-foot home for two years. “I wanted to keep the cottage feel, but with a contemporary sensibility,” she says. “As my life has evolved, so has my taste.” Christine Curry was the interior designer, helping to choose tiles, faucets, finishes, and fabrics, but many of the furnishings were sought out by Schuh herself.
The original living and dining rooms and the kitchen were all separate small rooms, and are now completely open from the front of the house to the rear, including the addition of a bump-out into the back yard for a light-filled breakfast room with a banquette, a round glass table with acrylic chairs, and a built-in desk. The 9-by-4-foot white Caesarstone-topped island anchors the kitchen, “and is where everyone always ends up gathering round,” she says.
The original fireplace is now gas, faced with white Caesarstone and flanked by white wood built-in shelving on either side. Four large, gray, square shaped swivel chairs from Chateau Sonoma sit beside it, with a sofa facing a flat-screen TV on the opposite wall just beyond them.
“I love that some guests can be sitting in front of the fire and others watching the football game and we can be all together without seeming like we are in the same room,” Schuh says.
The master suite is completely redesigned, and includes a seating area and window seat. One of