MIJI – Contemporary House Petaluma Sonoma County

A new custom home in Sonoma County nestled amongst Mature Oaks and a farmhouse on an urban infill site blocks from Historic downtown Petaluma.

MiJi – A Maker House for Milli & Jim

The clients are Milli a ceramic artist and collector… and Jim, a developer, building the first ever house for himself.

The practical task was to provide a small, intimate home for two with the flexibility to temporarily house their combined children and grandchildren when they visit. More importantly, they wanted MiJi to celebrate their love of art as a place to create, display and incorporate it.

Historic Farmstead Site
The house is situated on a sloped infill site in the middle of Petaluma with panoramic views of the town and Sonoma Mountain. It was subdivided from an Oak studded property where a lone Victorian farmhouse has presided for 130 years. The goal was for MiJi House to respect and complement the farmhouse by compiling familiar, simple agrarian forms and materials into a single building. The MiJi tower, in deference to the large Oak, leans gently back while peeking around the corner to grab some South light. The house also acts a ‘sentry’ structure marking the entry to the new 8 unit Courtyard project beyond.

Artists / Craftsmen
The view East shows large cranes arising from the West Coast Studio of international sculptor Mark di Suvero. Getting to know his work was the impetus for using exposed steel throughout the interior. We used 3 different steel fabricators to collaborate on the design of the wide flange structure, a custom stair, a breezeway door, and a sheet steel wall where super magnets hold their art. Milli’s artistic sensibility for bold color can also be seen throughout the project.

Local Industry / Found Objects
The Clients penchant for weekend treasure hunts resulted in an eclectic array of building materials discarded from local industry. Be they steel ‘drops’ from Van Bebber Steel, colorful cast concrete ‘over pours’ from Sonoma Cast Stone, tile ‘2nds’ from Fire Clay Tile, there was a desire to reuse and incorporate the best finds wherever possible. The challenge was to create a cohesive design for MiJi assimilating the many influences which inspired it.


AIA Redwood Empire, 2016 Design Award
Peoples Choice Award, Custom Residential

Petaluma, Sonoma County, CA

Single family home

Photography: The Morrisons