East Hurlbut Ave, Sebastopol

sebastopol-01Craftsman-style “homes with soul” harks back to the 1920s. Sebastopol builder Chuck Johnson grew up in the hills of Marin, where he came to love the inviting and homey brown shingle homes built during California’s 1920s Arts-and-Crafts period. Now his company, Artisan Builders, translated his love for that style into a one-of-a-kind twenty-first-century Craftsman home.

“I researched the market, and was horribly disappointed with what people were getting for half a million,” Johnson says. “The homes I saw lacked originality and soul.”

services-01Johnson, a self-taught designer who learned from reading, working with architects, and twenty years of hands-on experience with smaller projects, believed, “There is a buyer out there who will pay a premium for true custom craftsmanship.” So he took a big gamble and bought two acres outside Sebastopol and designed a 3300-square-foot, 4-bedroom home that takes the visitor back to 1925, except that it’s prewired for high-tech equipment and has a central vacuum system. It’s also open and airy inside with a two-story central great room and a dramatic bridge linking the two sides of the upper story.

Johnson works with a team of artisans who do everything from site preparations to staining the trim, a team that he says resembles a medieval guild. “My crew is obsessive about quality,” he comments. “We’re artists.” Artisan Builders has been remodeling and building custom homes in Sonoma County for 12 years.

sebastopol-02As much as possible, Artisan Builders uses natural materials to avoid indoor air pollution and salvages old redwood to take advantage of its beauty and durability. All the trim in this new home was made from recycled clear-heart redwood, which is a deep rich chestnut hue. The beams were recycled from the Strawberry Shopping Center in Marin. The floors were finished in oak, tile and pure wool carpeting.

An admirer of Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as the Arts and Crafts architects Maybeck and Greene, Johnson fits his homes into their surroundings using landscaping to maximize privacy. His designs takes advantage of southern light and the site’s views.