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A Modern House Built on the Fire-Ravaged Land of Sonoma Valley

01.09.23 | By
A Modern House Built on the Fire-Ravaged Land of Sonoma Valley

Sonoma Valley comes with a tricky past – volcanoes erupted millions of years ago spewing lava across the surrounding land. Once cooled, “the eruption’s gases became trapped, forming porous cavities instead of crystallizing into dense stone.” Fast-forward to 2017 when fire tore through the landscape, leaving behind burnt land and the ancient igneous rocks revealed post burn. Despite the trauma the area has seen, the land remains a desirable backdrop for some people longing for a simple retreat outside of the city. Enter Schwartz and Architecture who designed this small yet mighty pavilion-like home. The Leit House comes in a small package but with all the basic functions one could need.

small black modern home open to outdoors

small black modern home open to outdoors

small black modern home open to outdoors

small black modern home open to outdoors

While the roof is a solid black mass inspired by the surrounding black volcanic rocks, it still appears light as if it’s floating above the pavilion. The Leit House is built off of a solid wall, which operates as the service core, with the interior expanding out to open living spaces with views of the valley.

side view of small black modern home open to outdoors

angled exterior view of modern pavilion like house

The roof cantilevers out to provide shade to the outdoor areas. On both sides, the extended roof provides additional living space, including an outdoor kitchen and dining room.

side view of small modern black house open to outdoors on sloped land

closeup view of modern black house with blue chair in front

Part of the exterior is clad in blackened Shou Sugi Ban siding, giving nod to the resilient previously charred land.

interior view of small kitchen in modern house

Hidden behind the compact kitchen and adjacent main bedroom are an additional bedroom, closet, and bathroom.

side view of modern bedroom open to outdoor landscape

exterior view of small modern black house

exterior view of small modern black house with door open

side view of exterior view of small modern black house

evening view of exterior view of small modern black house and pool

evening view of exterior view of small modern black house

Photos: Douglas Sterling Photography
Contractor: Eames Constructions, Inc.
Structural Engineer: Framework Engineering

Caroline Williamson is Editorial Director of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.