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Fire Country Lookout, a sustainable luxury home, seamlessly blends modern efficiency with timeless design, offering panoramic views and a deep connection to nature, inspired by South African heritage.


Fire Country Lookout


Nestled in the serene hills of Healdsburg, California, the Fire Country Lookout is more than just a home; it’s a testament to sustainable living and architectural excellence. This striking residence is the brainchild of a couple—one a dreamer, the other grounded with a passion for sustainability—who envisioned a family sanctuary where luxury and efficiency coalesce.

The property, hidden away at the end of a winding gravel road, offers panoramic views that echo the rolling hills of South Africa, a homage to the husband’s childhood. His father’s legacy of “being out in the bush” and a deep connection to the land, combined with a background in construction, profoundly influenced the design ethos of this Sonoma County home.

To capture the essence of the site, the clients and architects from Studio VARA immersed themselves in the environment. They camped, hiked, and meticulously studied the solar and wind patterns, along with the local wildlife’s routines. This intimate understanding of the land informed a design that seamlessly integrates with its surroundings.

Fire Country Lookout
Fire Country Lookout

Architecture: Chris Roach, Maura Abernethy,
Andy Drake, Nick Brown, Luis Tilano

Landscape: Graham Quinn

Interior Design: Maura Abernethy, Zoe Hsu,
Jacqueline Lytle, Yennifer Pedraza, Gail Avila

Photography: Matthew Millman

Lighting Design: Tucci Lighting

Structural Engineering: Strandberg Engineering

Contractor: Fairweather and Associates

Pool Contractor: Blue Revolution

Civil Engineer: Adobe Associates

Mechanical Engineer: Monterey Energy Group

Audio Visual Design: Audio Visual Engineering

Fire County Lookout 5.jpg
Fire Country Lookout


The house stretches along the ridge, with generous porches that blur the lines between indoor and outdoor living. Louvers provide shade, while strategically placed windows optimize daylighting and cross-ventilation, framing breathtaking views. These thoughtful design elements transcend specific architectural styles, ensuring the home’s timeless appeal.

Beyond its aesthetic charm, the 3,896-square-foot home is a paragon of efficiency. It operates off-the-grid, thanks to photovoltaic panels, a private well, and a propane gas supply. Solar panels heat water for daily use and the pool, while battery storage systems provide energy security. The house’s resilience was tested during the Walbridge fire of 2020, which temporarily halted construction. However, the protective outer shell of non-combustible cladding and a comprehensive fire protection system ensured its safety.

Despite its robust exterior, the home exudes an easy-luxe vibe with clean lines and open spaces. The great room, with its pitched ceiling and exposed wood beams, offers a grand yet inviting atmosphere. The modern kitchen, anchored by a large island, is ideal for entertaining. Bedrooms are located in a separate wing, connected by an open-air breezeway, providing both privacy and tranquility. Additional features include a pool house, carport, and covered terrace, adding another 694 square feet to the living space.

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