In a market where everyone wants a new, move-in ready home and with so little overall inventory available, let alone newly remodeled or new build, it is exciting and refreshing to see RiverHouse Healdsburg coming on the market. This development, the brainchild of Jim Heid, which I wrote about here, comprises eight single family homes offering a combination of single level and two story living with and without an ADU or secondary unit. As the construction nears completion the things that make this development so different, really stand out. As Jim and I walk around RiverHouse, we talk about the things that make this such a different place to live.
1) Hidden Cars
One of the first things that strike you is there are no cars in sight. No driveways and no garages in view from the house. According to Jim, "A fundamental part of the design was to push the cars to the outside so they didn't detract from the sense of place, the open space or the places where people interact." Every home does have a large two car garage as well as additional parking for ADUs but the garages are very much out of view.
2) Large Porches
One of the charms of Healdsburg as the sun begins to go down, is to wander around town seeing people hanging out on their porches. Jim has taken the porches to another level on this project making them deep enough to be actual living spaces. These porches are anything but token take on porches. With three of the porches screened in, and directly off the kitchen, they function as a delightful extension of the house with room for a large dining table.
3) High Ceilings
As soon as you walk in to either the cottages or houses you will be greeted by huge vaulted ceilings. "Creating a sense of drama is key to the overall feeling you get as you walk in. The houses are intentionally not so large, but the high ceilings and eight foot doors throughout make them live quite the opposite."
"The kitchens are made for both cooking and entertaining," explains Jim. An important part of the lifestyle in Healdsburg is eating and drinking and so having a kitchen designed for cooking enthusiasts was a must. High quality stainless steel appliance package which include French door refrigerators, wine fridge and even drawer microwave mean you can move right in and start cooking. Equally important that the kitchen is the kitchen also serves as a focal point for everyday dining as well as a place for friends to hangout as part of entertaining.
5) Detached ADUs
The City of Healdsburg, along with many other places in California, is actively encouraging the addition of ADUs (accessory dwelling units) to help ease the housing shortage. The ADUs at River House are truly best-in-class if you are looking at how to design the perfect ADU. At just 500 sq ft they pack a lot in, a full kitchen, laundry, living/dining room, bedroom and bathroom. Even the ADUs have their own private porches.
6) Dutch Doors
Every home has a Dutch Door with its own distinct color. As you walk onto the central green, you can't help but smile as you look around and see the bright colors of all the different doors, providing a fun accent against all the white homes. However as you walk into the houses, you leave the bight door behind, and enter into a serene color palette that immediately makes you relax.
Walking around the homes you come across doors everywhere that have been used to create a huge amount of storage for the size of house. "The challenge with many new homes is that storage is compromised as part of maximizing the liveable space. However, having a smaller footprint house doesn't change the need for storage," explains Jim. As an example, the roof spaces have been fully finished created huge storage rooms, many of which you can walk right into.
8) The Green
Creating a sense of community was at the core of the design of River House. Everything from creating chance encounters as people walk from their garage to their house to people chatting as they hang out on their porch. Place right in the center, the Green acts as a focal point for the community to hang out around the fire pit or making cocktails and chatting at the communal table.
9) Big Trees
It's unusual for a new development to feel like it has been there for years. The big trees, a combination of Redwoods and fruit trees, are from another time, giving River House the feeling that it has been established for some time. As well as giving a sense of maturity, the inner photographer in me really appreciates the interesting light the trees cast over RiverHouse at different times of day.
10) The River
We can't talk about what makes River House different without mentioning the river! Because the modern day Healdsburg is so 'Plaza-centric', it is easy to forget Healdsburg's long history with the Russian River. Not only can you hear the water flowing over the dam from River House, but you have access to a small beach along the river, giving resident owners a chance to recreate on the river.
The River House has been in development for over five years and I am sure many people were unsure as to whether the dream could be turned into a meaningful reality. I have now worked with the team for nearly 18 months as the project has taken shape. As little as 3 months ago it was hard to see if it would deliver its true promise. As we get ready to put the homes on the market, I have now shown River House to nearly 30 different buyers, whose feedback has allowed us to continually refine the details of this one of a kind new home opportunity. The most common comment is along the lines of "how many offers are you expecting on each one?" Due to release the first four to the market July 4th weekend, we will find out. Only then will we see the proof of the pudding.