T W G : Design Journal


[This article first appeared on Kirsten Honeyman's lifestyle blog, La Dolce Vita California, and is reprinted here with her permission.]

Drawing - Kristi Reed

What a plum assignment! After writing about Quinta Fay (a historic ranch home in the Central San Joaquin Valley) for Pacific Horticulture, the magazine asked if I would be willing to write another article. I gladly accepted the challenge of finding a worthwhile property to feature. It had to be a unique home with a noteworthy, water-wise garden.

My search ended when, through mutual friends, I was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of Richard Snyder, attorney and erstwhile law professor at UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. After talking with Richard about the home he shares with internationally-known designer Paul Vincent Wiseman, I had a feeling I had found just the property I was looking for. I eagerly accepted his invitation to come visit them on Belvedere Island, north of San Francisco in Marin County.

The Mediteranean-style home of Richard and Paul
Photo - Matthew Millman

Meeting Paul Wiseman for the first time, it quickly becomes obvious that one is in the presence of a great natural talent. As the day of my visit unfolded, his genius for interior design, gardening, and cooking revealed itself in waves.

Here's the short version of my perfect Marin day:

8:30 AM   Paul and I head to the Marin Farmer's Market. There he picks out flowers, french bread, fresh salmon, and spring vegetables for our gourmet lunch later that afternoon.

Paul picking out yellow tulips, sold with their bulbs attached
Photos by the author, unless otherwise indicated

Paul gathering brussels sprouts

Kirsten pulling hard duty
Photo - Paul Wiseman

9:45 AM   On the way home from the market, we make a quick detour to the couple's Mill Valley "home away from home," a charming house in a shady redwood canyon, already owned by Richard when they met one another. They have kept this home as a get-away -- as though one really needs to get away from Belvedere!

[Check the list of magazine publications at The Wiseman Group website to see coverage of this home in Architectural Digest, September 2010.]

Stone buddha heads have sprouted moss in the moist redwood canyon

10:15 AM   After a short ten-minute drive, we are back at the Belvedere house unloading market bags of fresh produce.

Munder Skiles market bag hangs at the back door

11:15 AM  After Paul whips up a delicious breakfast, Richard, a voracious reader, retires to his study; Paul heads out to tend to the garden; and I am left to happily wander their lovely home, camera in hand, soaking in its sophisticated decor, marveling at the views, and envying the lush succulent garden below.

The airy living room with its comfortable custom seating designed by Paul 

Cozy window seating in the living room calls for relaxing with a good book -- if you can take your eyes off the view!

On the terrace next to the dining room, the view across the San Francisco Bay to Angel Island can be enjoyed outside

Large, healthy hybrid aloes, Aeonium, and Senecio flank the entrance to the guest room

A carpet of mixed succulents beautifully sets off large Aloe plicatilis

A wonderful mix of Aeonium and Graptoveria line the front walk

3:00 PM   After tweaking a few areas of the garden and making them even more fabulous, Paul heads to the kitchen to cook our late lunch/early dinner.

Richard and Kirsten raise a glass as sailboats catch the afternoon breeze on the Bay
Photo - Paul Wiseman

Arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette, served with fig and olive tapenade on grilled market bread

Super-fresh salmon fillets, glazed with Just Like Grandma's red pepper jelly, and topped with perfectly cooked asparagus

4:00 PM    After we munch on crispy bread topped with olive and fig tapenade and arugula salad, Paul serves the market salmon and thin spring asparagus. In a perfect ending to a lovely, simple meal, Richard serves a cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee he has roasted himself paired with a slice of homemade pear tarte prepared by Paul.

5:00 PM   I finally force myself to get in the car and drive home to Fresno, leaving Paradise behind. It's a hard life, but someone has to live it -- even if only for a day!

View to the west across the upper terrace, comfortably appointed with teak furniture from Munder Skiles

View of Sausalito from the upper terrace

Tip: Check the Pacific Horticulture Society website for their publication about this stunning home...