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Esso Bar Soll Residence

Inspired by the mid-century mania for home bars and cocktail hour, Esso Club West transforms a little-used 470 S.F. home office into a glamorous but intimate private barroom, complete with professional-grade equipment, high-end commercial materials and finishes, and an adjoining outdoor patio. Admiring an LA-area gastropub designed by the firm, home owners Dean and Carla Soll approached form environment research (fer) studio with the unique renovation project.

The Soll residence, located in rural Coto de Caza, California, is a colonial-style home with expansive formal gardens that feature spectacular hilltop views. Conservative on the outside, the interior of the home is unexpectedly fresh, with vibrant furnishings and contemporary artwork throughout. Early on, it was agreed the new bar and adjoining patio, accessible through the primary first-floor corridor, would follow the lead of the home’s interior with a modern contemporary look-and-feel, meant to transport the clients and their guests to a downtown destination, without leaving home.

The challenge was finding the balance between the old and the new. Taking cues from the home’s classical architecture, while stylistically diverging from it. On the interior, the approach was to connect the bar to adjacent rooms via throughways, views and by bridging materials. Two matching doors and a hot rolled steel plated fireplace directly connect the barroom and the formal dining room, creating a visual dialog between the two spaces. On the exterior, the resolution was to follow the existing layout of the formal columns and windows, slightly reduce the scale of the barroom trellis, and clad it in a reflective material, so as to not compete with the rest of the home.

Designed as a plane folding into itself and jutting out, the design concept for Esso Club West is to open up the relatively narrow space by engaging the outdoors. The structural lines of the room, along with the directional layout of the materials, move in unison to focus attention down the 22’ long bar top, along the linear wood and aluminum-clad ceiling, through the folding glass doors and towards the framed vista. The private bar extends seamlessly into a 220 S.F. outdoor patio that shares the same overhead ceiling structure and black basalt stone paving material. The modern patio reintegrates into the formally manicured grounds through planting areas that stitch together the new with the existing.

Behind the carrera marble bar top, Esso Club West features a liquor and barware display in rosewood and bronze mirror, two draft beer taps, Perlick undercounter refrigerators and ice maker, dishwasher, a Miele built-in coffee system, Sub-Zero wine refrigerator, 3-compartment sink, and all the accouterments of a commercial-grade establishment. On the other side of the bar is seating for twelve, including leather tufted barstools and a built-in bench, under which a custom-made Esso sign hangs in homage to the clients’ favorite college-time watering hole and the bar’s namesake.

Converting an underutilized home study into a functional and sophisticated adult entertaining space, Esso Club West and home bars, in general, represent the logical next step in the resurgence of speakeasies, private member clubs, and the art of mixology.


Dean & Carla Soll


Coto de Caza, California


November 2012

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