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Wine Country: Architecture and Interiors    by Mary Whitesides order for
Wine Country
by Mary Whitesides
Order:  USA  Can
Gibbs Smith, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This lovely coffee table volume presents the diverse architectural styles of the wine country (Napa and Sonoma) region of Northern California, an area similar in climate to Tuscany. Mary Whitesides tells us that 'architecture is the manifestation of the region's prosperity and European legacy' in an area whose residents enjoy 'a discriminate way of living.'

In these pages, we see echoes of Tuscan farmhouses, Spanish mission buildings, French Chateaux of Normandy, and Victorian-style mansions, as well as contemporary designs, including those that translate 'Barn architecture' into living spaces, and exploit 'outdoor rooms'. Eighteen homes and wineries are visited, from the 'Yountville Barn Style Complex' (a series of buildings for living, rather like a campus) to the farmhouse-style 'Backen Residence'. I love the looks of an outdoor courtyard fireplace in the 'French Manor House Chateau'; an old and elegant wooden spiral staircase at 'Far Niente'; a warm, shelved wooden table in the guesthouse bathroom of the 'Classic Modern House'; and welcoming, well-used verandas in many of the homes - but you'll find your own favorites.

After the home and vineyard tour, the author tells us 'How to Achieve Wine Country Style'. She includes questions to ask yourself when 'Individualizing Your Home'; discusses how to hire, and work with, an architect, in order to have the result reflect your own creativity; and she lists resources at the end. Wine Country: Architecture and Interiors is a beautiful book, full of inspiring ideas. In particular, I love the different ways these homes relate to (and even open up to) the outdoors and to the gorgeous wine country landscapes all around them.

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