Howard Backen’s clients know that the Northern California architect has an affinity for designing indoor-outdoor kitchens that typically become the most popular room in the house. In a barnlike residence that he designed in Napa Valley for the owners of a winery (also on the property), a 16-by-10-foot expanse of windowed doors slides up and into the wall so that the kitchen gives completely onto a terrace overlooking the valley.
But the room itself is worth staying inside for. The ceiling—which rises to 21 feet—and walls are sheathed in recycled timber, while antique terra-cotta tiles from Jerusalem cover the floors. Above the Wolf range are locally produced concrete tiles in shades that echo the landscape just outside. Countertops are cast concrete; butcher block tops the island. “All the surfaces are lit,” says Backen. “At night, the room just glows.”
Photo by Christopher Irion, architecturaldigest.com.