Above Image: In the living room, Benjamin Moore’s Simply White is the canvas for vibrant statement pieces and artwork. Modular sofa is upholstered in Fabricut’s Lovelust Linen in Forresto. Gray throw pillows are in Cusco Metallic Bouclé in Noche by Lauren Hwang through Kneedler Fauchère. Green throw pillows in Miro in Canopy by Romo through De Sousa Hughes. Drapery fabric is Chivasso through De Sousa Hughes. Flooring throughout is Casual Weathered Windmill in white oak through Carlisle Wide Plank Floors. Artwork above fireplace, Swimming Bunnies, Zhou Hongbin art above banquette, As if Time Stood Still, Salustiano Garcia Cruz. Photo by Joe Fletcher.
Upon seeing the tasting room at Sinegal Estate Winery in St. Helena, Amy Dornbusch knew she had found her interior designer. “I just loved how it had a little bit of a bohemian aesthetic but was contemporary overall,” Dornbusch says. She and husband Adam subsequently hired Katie Martinez, the talent behind Sinegal’s interiors, to help transform their nearly 7,000-square-foot home in the hills of Orinda. The house was a 1978 postmodern cocktail, but, recognizing that it had good bones and expansive outdoor space—more than three acres where they could entertain and their two young daughters could roam—the couple purchased the property in 2018 and commissioned the team of Martinez and Butler Armsden Architects to reimagine it.
The resulting home has the allure of a resort—functioning not only as a residence but as a venue for hosting parties and events. Amy (née Marks) manages her family’s foundation and hosts frequent philanthropic functions, and Adam is a digital-entertainment executive. “We are very social people and entertain a lot, and it was important to translate those aspects of our lives into the home,” notes Amy. The couple also own Gemstone Vineyard, an estate winery an hour away in Yountville, and previously Amy founded and ran Radish, a Brooklyn-based catering company.
“The design process felt a little bit more hospitality driven,” says Martinez. And in that milieu, she adds, “creatively you can take more risks, since it’s supposed to be an experience for the guests.”
Designer Katie Martinez.
Known for her chic New England meets California style, Martinez has studios in Boston and San Francisco and designs homes on both coasts. Taking inspiration from the Dornbusches’ contemporary art collection, Martinez envisioned interiors that she describes as “playful but sophisticated.” The living room in particular is an artful statement in vibrant, unexpected hues. Martinez chose sofas in emerald and orange, punctuating the composition further with pops of pink. She was more than happy to take a break from a neutral palette, noting, “Most of my clients probably wouldn’t do a pink onyx bar, a huge floating emerald sofa, or a resin-dripped powder room. Those are pretty bold decisions to make for your house, and I really like that.”
Martinez also employed elements of the modern-rustic materials palette she featured at Sinegal. In the living room, the nearly 16-foot-tall, ceiling-height fireplace of blackened steel and shou sugi ban charred wood is a dramatic anchor; floors throughout the home are engineered oak; and pickled-wood-plank ceilings were refinished in a light stain.
Martinez also commissioned local artists to create bespoke elements: Aleksandra Zee crafted an intricately inlaid wood headboard for the main bedroom; Valerie Santillo of fashion label Kamperett hand-painted the drapery in one daughter’s room; and decorative painter Caroline Lizarraga embellished the powder room walls with bronze-colored resin.
As wine purveyors—Gemstone’s cabernet sauvignon can be found at select restaurants, including the French Laundry—a dedicated wine room was a must, and the Dornbusches, rather than relegate it to a lower floor, have an urbane “cellar” right off the living room. With its steel-framed doors, black accents, and custom-built storage showcasing Gemstone and other labels, the couple now have their very own Katie Martinez tasting room right at home.