Monday, March 2, 2009

Wine Country and HGTV Dreamhouse – Part 1

Just returned from my mother/daughter trip to Sonoma and Napa.  Wow!  I just need to say Wow!  I’ve lived in California for 13 years and have never been to wine country… that’s considered a sin in these parts!

Enough of my rambling… let me get onto sharing some of it with you…


Driving into the Napa/Sonoma area you are surrounded by rolling hills of green and yellow and rows of grape vines.


One of the many wineries along the route into Napa.  


Broadway Street leading into Sonoma.  Straight ahead you see the Old City Hall, which has doors on all four sides, because the creators of the city wanted everyone to feel welcome.


The town of Sonoma is set up as a big town square, which houses their City Hall, Visitors Bureau and a beautiful park.   The surrounding square has all the shops, boutiques, restaurants and one of the California Mission’s above, the Mission San Francisco Solano de Sonoma.   This is the only California mission to be established under Mexican rule.  You also see in the photo one of the historic bells that guide you from mission to mission all along California.  To find out more about California’s missions, click here.


Some of the sidewalks around the square are made of this charming cobbled stone.  That’s my daughter Rachel’s sequined feet!


The town square park and some of the surrounding shops and restaurants.


We weren’t the only visitors in the park.



Sonoma’s City Hall.  That is my daughter Rachel at one of their four entrance doors!


The old town theatre – Sebastiani Theatre, established 1833.


The entrance into the Sebastiani Theatre.  You can’t see it very well in this picture, but there is a mannequin inside the ticket booth dressed up – what a hoot!


The Ledson Hotel next door to the theatre.  This is where they were selling the HGTV Dreamhouse tours (the developer of the Dreamhouse is Steve Noble Ledson)… but we were too late!  The tickets were all sold out.

So, we set out to go shopping.  The first shop we stopped into was Artifax, a cool, zen-inspired shop filled with jewelry, blown glass, statues and knick-knacks.  The owner, Kaeti Bailie was as sweet as could be.


The view that greets you as you enter Artifax.  Fountains, buddhas, and greenery.

You can click on Artifax here or visit them at 450-C First Street East in Sonoma, CA.


A view out the window to the town square from Artifax.  I’m in love with the Trojan horse here (not a great picture of it).  From there, Kaeti suggested we pop on over to Sunflowers for lunch, her favorite town square eatery.


I didn’t intend for the sun to be peeking from behind the sign, but how fortuitous!


Sunflowers did not disappoint.  My lemon-pesto chicken sandwich was outstanding, my latte was oh-so-good and the side salad was a mix of crushed walnuts, tomatoes, raisins and lots of other stuff that I did not have time to analyze.  I just know that it was good!  Definitely a must-visit for any tourist.


This was the back garden where we ate.  What a lovely space to enjoy our lunch.  Very relaxing!

You can go to Sunflower Caffe here or you can visit them at 421 1st Street, Sonoma, CA.

From there we were going to drive over to the HGTV Dreamhouse, which is only a few blocks from the town square, but… DSC02083

…my brakes went down hard when I spied Chateau Sonoma, a French antique shop along the route!


The shop was filled with beautiful antiques and one-of-a-kind accessories for your home.  This antique poster bed was decked out in lighted tree branches as a canopy and it looked just fabulous.


This air-balloon light fixture was much more spectacular in person than this photo shows.

Interestingly enough, when I got back home today I was looking through a home magazine and came across an ad with a similar  light fixture…

Not exactly, but the same idea.  This is from Marvin Alexander, Inc.


Very interesting art, statuary and figurines line the shelves and tables all throughout the shop.


I fell in love with this antique spiral ladder/bookshelf.  What a wonderful addition this would be to a corner of living room, study or office.


And finally, I almost walked out of the store with this beautiful hemp antique tablecloth from Romania.   Terry Wicks, the gorgeous and very friendly shopkeeper and buyer told me the tablecloth was over 150 years old and that it wears like steel!  I was thinking about buying linen, but this one definitely tugged at my heart!

You can visit Chateau Sonoma here or visit them at 153 West Napa Street in Sonoma, CA.

Onto the Dreamhouse!!!


As we pulled up to the Dreamhouse, I was immediately drawn to the neighborhood, which is just beautiful.  Very serene, quiet and the homes are all built to look like they’ve been there 100 years.  I love that they kept that old tree on the corner.


My daughter and I weren’t able to tour the house, as I mentioned the tours were sold out (bummer!).  But that didn’t stop me from snapping away.  My favorite thing about the exterior of this house are the lanterns on the porch.  I’m a lantern freak and the simplicity of these are perfect for this period home.   I wanted to tell the tourist on the front porch, “Hey… you are sitting on my porch!”


A view from the right side of the home.  Look at the architectural embellishments under the front windows.



The detached garage to the right of the home.  The trellis on the right is the entry into the garage space.


A view of the driveway, with trellis leading to the garage.  Whoops… someone forgot to take the port-a-potties away?  Or are they for the visitors?


A view into the backyard (garage on the left).  They’ve started a vineyard for the lucky winner too!


A view into the backyard of the Dreamhouse.  You can see the picnic table and chairs, a built-in grill on the back left and the Doggie Dreamhouse in the background.


A view of the side of the Dreamhouse.  They have all of the plants labeled.


Just to the right of the Dreamhouse, the neighbors have their home up for sale.  Another beauty.  Although, they need a landscaping help out front and a lot of green!


Another view of the next door neighbor’s home. 

There were so many beautiful homes all around the neighborhood.  I had to take a few pictures and share them with you…


This is the neighbor behind the Dreamhouse.  LOVE this home too, with it’s wraparound porch and tall shutters.  Gorgeous.


And on the opposite corner of the block, another beautiful home with a lovely iron gate to it’s backyard.


Three walk-out porches on the upper level give this stately home a welcoming feel.


This one-story is very simple and stately all at the same time.


The homes in the neighborhood ranged from very formal (above) to more on the charming side (below).


The blue shutters on this beautiful chateau-inspired home are nice, but I think I would paint them either black or another contrasting color.  Do you like the blue?


Another white single-story home in the neighborhood.  I’ll take any one of them!


Mini-White House anyone?


Finally, there are some older homes across the street from the Dreamhouse, but they look well maintained and charming.  Not everyone can own a 2 million dollar home!


Our last glance at the Dreamhouse…. until I move in!!!

Onto Napa…. that’s Part 2 for another day…


Terry said...

I don't like those giant blue shutters. It's not the blue, it's that they dominate the house. I'd say lose them, no matter what the color. The roof, the lintels, the archs, the windows, and the lanterns are cool enough by themselves. I can imagine designer/owner fights over the shutters.

Cote de Texas said...

I can not believe you couldn't go inside - they would have had to pull me off the porch kicking and screaming - it doesn't even look like anyone is there? weird!

MyLittleHappyPlace said...

What a trip! I'm drooling over the stucco one-story with the large shutters...Whimper, whimper ;)

Anonymous said...

Somehow I thought you only had sons--I didn't realize you had a daughter too! What a wonderful trip for the two of you to take together! I've been to Sonoma with my mom on a number of occasions (the huz and I even had our wedding reception up there!) and it gets better and better with each visit. The shopping is killer! She's coming in May for my birthday and we have another trip planned. Can't wait!

alice said...

I would definitely paint those shutters on the French style house too! The blue was just too much blue or something... thanks for the tour of Sonoma- its so charming!

Thank you so much for your comment by the way. If you are able to find a home for a window frame mirror you'll have to let us all know!

Things That Inspire said...

I like the blue shutters!

This post brought back memories of a great trip to Sonoma in 2007. I would have visited Chateau Sonoma if I had seen it...

I can't believe they would not let you into the 'dream house' even though it was technically sold out. Not good business on their part!

LindsB said...

What beautiful pictures! The BF and I have been dying to get out there and tour wine country, and I'm going to show him these pictures tonight so he will get the hint :)

LOVE the dream house, if I win you can come visit me, I promise haha.

vicki archer said...

I would love a visit to Sonoma and the wine country - it sounds like you had a wonderful time with your daughter and I look forward to part 2, xv.

Haven and Home said...

Wow, what a fabulous trip!

kari and kijsa said...

What an amazing trip- and so many beautiful houses!
kari & kijsa

Patricia Gray said...

Hi Rebecca
It looks like you had a memorable trip. Isn't that always the way, we live somewhere and never visit it. Don't worry I am the same. I only see the sights in my own area when I have visitors.
Thank-you for your lovely comment on my Blog. I have added you to my Blog List also. Could you please use this link to update my Blog which is showing as a year old:

Bella Vista Tile said...

Found your blog by accident, (well perhaps there are no accidents), had to write and let you know how wonderful I'm finding it!
Thank you, it's stunning visually, informative and interesting. It looks like a lot of work, but fun work! I'm a little homesick, I grew up in SF, Harmony and Home is a great connection. I live in western NC, in the mountains, and design and create handmade tile with my husband. If you'd like to see our work: To see some of my original artwork:
Thanks again,
Lisa TeviaClark

Callie Grayson said...

what a fabulous trip! looks like you had a wonderful time with your daughter.
can't wait until part 2

Linda Lou said...

How fun for you and your daughter-my husband spent summer's near Sonoma, and loved it--We are gonna win that dream house, I tell ya!! LOL! So is everyone else who watches HGTV - great tour of the town and all the beautiful houses!

Julie EJ said...

Oh~ Now you made me homesick.(smile) I used to go there often. gezzz.. Thank you for the great posting. loving your blog..

Julie in OZ