[UPDATE: This story was originally published on March 4, 2013.]
When one thinks of a home in wine country, traditional structures with wooden rocking chairs out on the porch might come to mind. But such is far from reality for S.F. tech couple Kate Imbach, currently head of marketing at Showyou, and Tom Conrad, CTO at Pandora. The pair's modernist marvel in Sonoma is more like a glass box (and a very impressive one at that!) placed smack-dab in the middle of rolling hills and awe-inspiring views. Trust us, she's a beaut.
But we'll let you be the judge of that in our virtual tour of the surprising pad, led by Miss Imbach, herself. Of course, in addition to showing you around the surprising and pared-down space, we had to play dress up with the stylish, multi-tasking owner (she's a short-film director, too). Take a peek at it all, right here. Just make sure you prep yourself for a major dose of home envy. It's pretty much unavoidable.
Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux
Tell us how you and your husband found this amazing home in Sonoma. How did you know it had to be yours?
"We weren't seriously looking for a place, but I would occasionally browse real-estate websites for property in Sonoma. I was sold as soon as I saw it online. We did it all in a bit of a rush, but luckily it turned out to be one of the best decisions we ever made."
Kate, in front of her gorgeous home, wears a Cheap Monday dress, slip from Rabat, and Jimmy Choo heels.
Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux
What are you favorite aspects of the home?
"The architects worked to blend the outdoors with the indoors and to maximize the views from any angle. No matter where you are on the property, you have an amazing view of either the house or the surrounding mountains and fields."
The tech lady soaking up the Sonoma sun.
How often do you find yourself spending time here and what do you guys do? How does it differ from your city life?
"We come as often as possible. We love to have friends up and cook big dinners, go hiking, wine tasting, or kayaking. The best thing about having a place to consistently go with friends is getting to spend so much quality time together. We spend a day on blankets by the pool, have dinner together, then play a long session of Cards Against Humanity, cook a big breakfast, and do it all over again. In the city, time with friends is normally just drinks or dinner. So, we have a great time in S.F., but are really able to use our Sonoma place to take advantage of all the activities that Northern California has to offer."
A peek at the three-bedroom main house (left) and one-bedroom guest house (right).
How would you describe your personal style?
"It's taken me a very long time to figure out what I like. I spent a lot of time wearing trendy clothes that didn't fit together and never felt like me. Now I like to mix simple, well-tailored classics with edgy pieces. When I stick to that look, I always feel comfortable and like myself."
Kate shows off a bevy of locally themed jewels, including a ring from Fiat Lux, bracelets from Celine, Gypsy Warrior, and Ambiance, and necklace from Wonderland SF.
How would you describe your home style?
"The architecture of the home is very modern, but we've worked to make the interiors relaxed. The style that we're going for is modern but comfortable."
A glance at the living room, featuring soaring ceilings and glass walls overlooking the property.
What three pieces in your wardrobe get the biggest workout?
"My black Frye boots, Nixon Vega watch, LNA tank tops (which go under anything and are great for layering in S.F.'s weather), and Helmut Lang colored skinny jeans."
Kate, in a Duo shirt, Rag & Bone jeans, and Minnetonka loafers, lounges in the guest house, which looks out over the pool.
Do you find yourself dressing differently in the city vs. the country?
"In Sonoma it's all about lounging and reading or outdoorsy activities. We see more horses and bunnies than people on a typical day and they don't care what you wear! Here it's about Lululemon and Sports Basement."
Kate's sparse, but high-impact accessories include a Nixon watch, Celine bracelet, ring from Ambiance, and necklace from Two Birds (in previous picture).
What are some of your favorite pieces of decor in the house?
"My husband picked up some beautiful mid-century lamps from Monument, which I absolutely love."
The sleek living-room furniture matches the clean lines seen outdoors.
Did you and your husband take equal parts in the decor?
"We're lucky — we have almost exactly the same style, so we have fun picking out things together. This house has definitely been a collaborative project. He grew up with parents who love Danish Modern, and I grew up in Colorado and Massachusetts. So, it's a mix of Eames chairs, the occasional antler candleholder and preppy throw pillows."
A dining-room table vignette.
What are some of your favorite places to shop for furniture, art, etc., both off and online?
"For furniture, Monument
, and Room & Board
. For art, The Ghostly Store
, and I've bought a lot of our art directly from photographers, who I find by reading a million photo blogs. Some of my favorites are Aint-Bad Magazine
, Verve Photo
, and Lenscratch
The view from the television room looks out over the neighbor's property, including a few horses roaming about.
Would you guys consider yourselves minimalists?
"We do like clean lines and open spaces, but our style is more warm and comfortable than you might think for a minimalist home. Can we be warm minimalists?"
Artsy tabletop tomes in the living room.
Tell us about your current gig.
"I'm Head of Marketing and Community at Showyou
. Showyou features all the best videos of the day in one place. You can curl up with our iPad app at the end of the day and check out all of the videos Refinery29
has shared recently. I'm also a documentary filmmaker. You can see my work with The Taxi Composer
or The Mayor of Noe Valley
The blonde beauty, in a Smythe blazer, LNA tank top, Asos leggings, Gucci heels, and bracelet from Gypsy Warrior, in her living room.
Would you consider yourself a techie?
"I think so! I've been working at tech startups since 2005. I kinda love the internet."
What would any tech girl be without her trusty iPhone?
Besides Showyou, what apps are you constantly playing with?
"The apps I use most are Pandora
, and Rdio
. I love them for keeping entertained, informed, and in touch with friends."
A peek at the guest room in the main house. We're loving the sock monkeys!
Tell us your background before joining Showyou.
"Previously I was Style Editor at NewlyWish, a registry designed for your lifestyle, VP of Marketing at 8tracks
, an internet-radio service for handcrafted playlists, and had the same role at Skyhook
in Boston, a provider of software for location positioning and intelligence. Before that, I was at m-Qube/Verisign
Fresh flowers and old books decorate a table in the guest house.
What's a typical work day look like for you?
"I spend my time at work thinking up creative ideas for how to spread the word about Showyou and watching a lot of Jennifer Lawrence videos. It's a tough job!"
We wouldn't mind waking up to this second-story view.
Did you and your husband meet on the job?
"We met at a conference. Romance!"
What sort of parties do you guys throw out here in Sonoma?
"We do a blowout BBQ every summer, crab feasts, and long weekends just hanging around with friends. We're hosting a friend's weddings this summer and I can't wait!"
The guest-house bedroom opens up to a private deck with stunning vistas.
What are some of your favorite surrounding venues and things to do and see?
"Glen Ellen Star
is the best restaurant in the Bay Area. Also amazing is Farmstead
in St. Helena and Solbar
at Solage Calistoga. We love wine tasting at Scribe
, Matanzas Creek
, or whatever winery we're driving past at the time! For outdoors options, Annadel State Park and Sonoma Coast State Park are stunning, and kayaking on the Russian River."
A little slice of modernist heaven, tucked into the Sonoma hills.
When you're not in Sonoma, where would we find you in the city?
"On the weekends we're always grabbing breakfast on 24th Street in the Mission, browsing bookstores on Valencia Street, and hanging out in Dolores Park. During the week, I'm at Yoga Tree
, Park Tavern
for dinner, Wilson & Wilson
for cocktails, or Delfina
for a late lunch."
Kate, in a Black Milk dress, cuffs by Free People and David Yurman, and Miu Miu heels,
dips her feet in the pool.
What's your philosophy when it comes to accessorizing?
"I'm a bracelet girl and have been ever since my mother introduced me to turquoise cuffs when I was growing up in Colorado. I like bracelets because the more I layer them together, the better the story behind what I'm wearing. There's no other accessory that pulls that off."
Miu Miu heels and Free People and David Yurman cuffs, against an astro-print-dress backdrop.
What's the best part about having a getaway in wine country?
"A real summer with 90-degree days and pool parties!"
Sitting pretty poolside.
Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux