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Sonoma Real Estate Blog

Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 87

Elements of Outdoor Entertaining

by Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner

Here in California, especially in the summer, we love the indoor-outdoor living. That is, when our exterior spaces act as additional places to live, work and play. The outdoor spaces of our properties are so much more than your basic backyard, they are an extension of your home. Enhancing these spaces can help your family and friends to enjoy your outdoor spaces, and there are a few elements to incorporate into your living spaces that can emphasize all of your exterior assets. 

5832 La Cuesta Drive, Santa Rosa, California

Preparing Food
Having a safe and comfortable space to prepare food is an essential element to any backyard entertaining and living space. Grilling out with friends or cooking for your family, in the breeze, is quintessential California living. These spaces should be far enough away from the home as to not pose a risk while using the grill, with adequate ventilation. These spaces can also have shade so that the cook can be comfortable in the summer sun. Outdoor cooking spaces can allow the host, or cook in the family, to still be included in the fun in the sun.  

5832 La Cuesta Drive, Santa Rosa, California

Enjoying Food
Having a comfortable place to “eat, drink, and be merry” is another essential place to have in your backyard living spaces. These spaces allow for your loved ones to gather and be together over food and conversations. Creating an inviting space through comfortable seating that is organized in a way to enhance togetherness will help for people to be naturally drawn to these places. 

5832 La Cuesta Drive, Santa Rosa, California

The perfect outdoor living space has a little fun mixed in there too. A pool can provide the element of fun for any backyard experience. Whether it is for cannon balls or lounging, a pool can create the life in the outdoor lifestyle. If a pool is not your style, other activities can help to get people moving in your outdoor spaces. Small patches of grass can be used for a bocce ball r croquet courts. Just imagine your backyard lifestyle, there are people chatting, others eating or cooking, and a few throwing a football or lounging by the pool. Activity is as much a part of optimum outdoor living as any other element in life. 

4059 Burnside Road, Sebastopol, California​

A View
A view can draw you outside and keep you outdoors. If you have a property with a view, your outdoor living is enhanced by giving you a sense of place, as you gaze out at the expanse. All of the things we love about the outdoors, its ability to restore us, to make us think about life, to breathe in the fresh air and to breathe out our stress can be seen in one snapshot. The view provides the backdrop to life, it gives the living a context in the world as a whole. 

4059 Burnside Road, Sebastopol, California​

Easy Access to the Outdoors
One of the biggest impacts our home can have on your indoor-outdoor lifestyle is how easy it is for us to access that outdoor space. When our homes have easy access to the outdoors, we are more likely to use those spaces as extra living spaces. You can enhance the ease of access by having large windows, beckoning out outside. The egress can be enhanced through large doors (i.e. french doors) that can be left open to allow the breeze to percolate through the whole home, incorporating the outdoors, in, and vice versa. 

Outdoor living spaces can enhance the life in your California lifestyle. There are many aspects that can increase the use of these places, on your property but make access easier, and the spaces more inviting, comfortable, safe, and entertaining. 

Half a Dozen Vacation Safety Tips for Sebastopol Homeowners

by Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner


An overstuffed curbside mailbox, blazing porch light at noon, or a pile of newspapers out there by your front door all indicate a couple of things Sebastopol homeowners would do well to avoid. For burglars and housebreakers of all stripes, these are like lighted billboards announcing:

  • This Sebastopol homeowner is off somewhere enjoying a nice summer vacation; and
  • This afternoon and/or evening, there’s nobody home!

Every Sebastopol homeowner deserves an extended break now and then—and the July/August weather makes now the ideal time for many—but it’s also high season for break-and-enter artists (or just ‘enter’ artists, since 34% of burglars walk in through the front door). As long as we’re discussing the percentages, the common assumption that break-ins are midnight outings doesn’t hold water. Sixty-five percent of burglaries happen in broad daylight; most between 10am-3pm.

For vacation-bound locals, a few precautionary steps will do much to avoid a miserable discovery on your return home. If your home is currently listed, we think it’s a good idea to notify your agent to add a “Do Not Disturb Occupants” rider under the “For Sale” sign (whether it’s occupied or not!). In general, here are another six good vacation safety tips:

  1. Recruit some trusted neighborly help to keep an eye on the place and gather any mail and newspaper overflow. Most Sebastopolites are delighted to help—and you should offer to reciprocate.
  2. DON’T POST VACATION PIX on Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media haunt until you get back. High among leading vacation safety no-no’ s are tweets like, “Off to Maui!”
  3. Think like a thief (that is, take a few minutes to case the joint). You’ll find yourself securing little-used doors and windows that are usually unlocked.
  4. Either unplug automatic garage doors that can be triggered by remote control frequency scanner or install a deadbolt lock.
  5. Do a better job of hiding the spare key. Thieves know all the common places. A spare key can be a vacation safety backstop if you need to phone someone to help get into the house in an emergency, but a spare key under the flowerpot is asking for trouble. Best hiding place: inside an envelope, you entrust to your neighbor.
  6. Cancel deliveries. An Amazon Prime carton beside the front gate is a commonplace—but when one or more remain uncollected for more than 24 hours, it’s a virtual invitation to the unscrupulous.

Even for Sebastopol neighborhoods that are safer than most, vacation time burglaries can happen anywhere and anytime that basic vacation safety precautions aren’t observed. A few minutes of prevention should yield added peace of mind while you’re on the road as well as a pleasant return to a safely secured home. We will be standing by to help when you start planning the more extended kind of outing: to your next Sebastopol home!       

Top 6 Obscure Tips for Coping with Sebastopol’s Weather

by Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner


The heat of summer is upon us. The extreme temperatures of late caused us to rummage for a few useful tips for coping with Sebastopol’s hot weather. Most everyone can guess the commonsensical ones, like the NAR’s number one Home Showing Tip in Hot Weather: “Keep the house cool;” or the lead safety tip from the National Weather Service: “Stay out of the sun.”

Seriously, here are some ideas that don’t appear often. Some are only applicable in special instances, but all of which make a lot of sense:

Comb your fins. 

This tip for coping with Sebastopol heat spells has nothing to do with keeping any tropical fish well-groomed: it’s about your air conditioner. You’ve probably noticed that the sharp metal ridges that populate the exit side (the “fins”) are easily bent: just brush up against them, and they crumple. The problem is that when bent, they retard airflow. What you probably didn’t know is that there is actually a tool called a “fin comb” to straighten the condenser fins. 

Sub-tip: turn off the power before you comb.

Vacuum the pollen. 

This tip for summer pollen is already applicable here in Sebastopol, where springtime pollen is equally evident. The idea is to vacuum the front door flashing and window jamb crevices where pollen lurks, eliminating lingering allergy or asthma issues.

Rethink expensive suntan lotions. 

We can’t vouch for this one (we don’t have the lab equipment to test out CR’s findings)—but was surprised that Consumer Reports says that WalMart’s in-store brand (“Equate”) tests highest for effectiveness and lowest in price (less than half of some). If true, it might be practical to leave those fancy French-sounding versions in the shade.

When the house is empty, don’t turn the A/C off. 

Instead, set the thermostat up a few notches so that the place doesn’t absolutely bake. Sub-tip: when you enter a too-hot home, resist the temptation to set the thermostat ‘way cold: it won’t cool the house any faster.

Plant for shade. 

This is a strictly long-term tip, yet it’s one that’s probably the most valuable of the lot. Sebastopol homeowners whose roofs and walls are shaded by majestic trees and plantings have the best of it: lower cooling bills and the pleasure of shady porches and yards. When you are thinking about improving your Sebastopol home’s landscape profile, this is the tip to remember! 

Visit the grocery store. 

A lot. The wikiHow site explains that not only are grocery stores air conditioned (they are here in Sebastopol, though that’s not universally true)—but for extra chill, you can “visit the freezer section and peruse for a while.” 

All right—we admit we threw in wikiHow’s tip to round out the half-dozen. Another summertime tip that you could take advantage of right now, before Sebastopol’s summer ends: give us a call if you’re ready to plan your next real estate venture!  

This Land is Your Land

by Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner

Land purchases are sought out by buyers for different reasons. Sometimes, land can be a great, low-maintenance investment or it can be the start of a client's dream. The spectrum of reasons for buying land is just that far-reaching. This spectrum makes finding the right land for the right person, so interesting! We love matching motivations to parcels and feel like we are really helping to set in motion something special for our clients.

Some of the reasons buyers seek land are universal, regardless of what their ultimate goal for the property may be. There is a huge opportunity for increased property value when buying land, after all, they are not making any more of it. This opportunity is compounded by the fact, land can be very low maintenance. Whether you are investing to one day resell, or build your dream home, when there are no existing structures of maintenance issues to impede your vision, the possibilities are endless (and less expensive). Also, in the competitive market, we often find ourselves in, here in California, land purchases may be a way to relieve some of that tension. Often times, buying and selling land is less stressful and buyers often reap the benefits of that fact.

All of these benefits can be found at our listing at 3500 Sweetwater Springs Road. This property has breathtaking views, one of those perks found more often when buying property versus neighborhood homes.  Gently rolling ridge top features open sunny meadows, natural springs and incredible views of the Russian River Valley, Mt. Saint Helena and beyond. The views continue to sweep through the entirety of the 480± acre parcel. This property is the perfect canvas awaits to create your dream estate with vineyard potential. There are multiple building sites on this property that will provide the idyllic backdrop, your dream in wine country has always deserved.


Sebastopol Home Ownership: a Bedrock of the American Dream

by Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner


You’d think that the whole notion of the American Dream is vague enough that it would be immune from challenge, and for the most part, that’s still true enough. Not so for its principal emblem, which most Sebastopol residents would agree is owning your own home. Being free to work hard to reach that goal—no matter who you are or how humble your origins—has long been the leading sign that the Dream is alive and kicking.

Even so, lately it’s been getting hard to ignore some media discussions that seem to challenge homeownership’s legitimacy as a pillar of that whole American Dream notion. Simply put, the suggestion is that the financial benefits to be had from owning your own home are no longer valid—or at least, that they are growing less valid. 

There’s no arguing that there are many situations where renting makes more financial sense than does buying. Most of them are related to the expected duration of residence. As The New York Times observes, “Buying tends to be better the longer you stay” if only because the upfront costs are spread out over many years. In one of its Upshot commentaries, the Times presents a calculator which adds up “Initial,” “Recurring,” and “Opportunity Costs” for various rent and buy situations in order to show at what monthly rental dollar amount “renting is better.” 

Sorry, Times. Your calculator may accurately display the tradeoffs in dollar costs—but it overlooks one factor that can ultimately prove to be the most significant. It’s the real-life factor that is built in whenever Sebastopol families decide to graduate from renting to buying. It begins to take form with the first dollar saved for a down payment and continues until the last mortgage check clears the bank. 

You can call it “enforced savings”—but whatever its name, in addition to the emotional benefits of owning your home, a measurable infusion of financial independence is the usual outcome. For example, when the Federal Reserve last reported “Changes in U.S. Family Finances” during the years from 2010-2013, it found that although median incomes fell 5%, “the median net worth of homeowners increased 4%, whereas that of renters or other non-homeowners did not change.

If the American Dream is one of self-reliance and independence, then owning your Sebastopol home isn’t likely to disappear as its leading goal anytime soon. It’s one of the greatest parts of our job to help clients turn that distant dream into today’s reality. It’s a process that starts with a simple call to our office!

Same Ol’ List: Not Just for Those with Homes for Sale

by Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner


It’s that time of year again when those of us who write about Sebastopol homes for sale and related matters have a hard choice to make: do we run the risk of boring everyone to death by writing the same ol’ spring cleaning blog, or can we (please!) just skip it this year?

This time, despite our inclination to do without it for once, we are once again making the same decision. Yes, here is yet another spring maintenance reminder list. (Here’s the list first, ending with why we always make this same decision):  

  • Of course, clear the gutters, downspouts—and any channel that water finds on your property
  • Take a look at the roof—if anything looks screwy, best to assume it needs a closer look
  • Seal the deck (unless you did that last year, in which case check whether it’s still doing its sealing job—with weather like we’ve had, it might not last another season)
  • Inspect the driveway and walks
  • Do a test run of the sprinkler system
  • Change smoke and carbon monoxide alarm batteries
  • Change air filters
  • Take a leisurely stroll around the house to check for infestations (“leisurely” because the evidence can be minuscule)

This isn’t an exhaustive list, so as you’re taking the leisurely stroll you’ll probably notice one or two details that can use attention: some caulking here, a screen that could use replacement there. 

And here are the reasons why we always wind up deciding to repeat the same old points:

  1. Because first-time homeowners often need to be reminded that now they make up the first line of defense
  2. Because if and when your home comes up for sale, having religiously maintained the place will make a real difference
  3. Because for homeowners, a stitch in time saves nine…ty.
  4. Because once you’ve attended to your spring maintenance list, summertime enjoyment of your property won’t be spoiled by nagging upkeep worries

That last one could be the most important. Your Sebastopol home will only come up for sale one time, but you can enjoy it year after year when you feel good about how it’s cared for. But from our point of view, when the day comes that your Sebastopol home really is on the market, not having to scramble to correct maintenance lapses makes the whole process that much easier. Then all you have to do is give us a call!

Breathtaking Vistas

by Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner

Some properties have a certain draw, a way of capturing your imagination and not letting it go. Often times, a home has one characteristic, the main focus, that runs through every aspect of the property, setting it apart from all of the others. Moments after stepping foot on 4059 Burnside Road, one can easily identify this stunning property’s unique signature.

With awe-inspiring views of the majestic Mount Saint Helena ridge tops, Sonoma County vineyards, redwoods, and valleys below, this Spanish-inspired home will capture your heart. Enjoy the privacy and seclusion on approximately 7.35± acres, nestled in the hills of the beloved West County. This home features exquisite architecture that was thoughtfully designed to capture the breathtaking views in each room and frame the artistic distinction of profound natural beauty outdoors. 

The 4,182± square foot home includes 3 bedrooms and 3 full bathrooms. The outdoors is brought in again through the use of materials found in the natural environment. Faux wood beams mimic the forest found outside the back door and are matched to the rich wooden-frame windows found throughout the home. The floor tiles and stone are a warm earthen brown, with rustic, old-world, and rich colors mirroring the hues found in the surrounding hills, easily seen through the many large windows.

This home’s architecture is meticulously calculated to maximize the view from every location in the home. The whirlpool tub is set in a large bay window, helping you wash the day away while bathing in the setting sun. The luxury kitchen is oriented so that entertaining friends and family are simultaneously comfortable and awe-inspiring.

Enjoy pursuing your culinary goals while enjoying the incredible views in this gourmet kitchen complete with a Thermador 5-burner gas cooktop and warming drawer, granite kitchen island, dual under mount sinks, built-in wine rack, informal dining area, custom cherry wood cabinetry, and a built-in refrigerator.  Bring your wine up from the naturally temperature-controlled, 800± bottle wine storage closet – built below the frost line – to your kitchen in the classically charming dumbwaiter.

Many details of this home bring not only comfort but also an appreciation for the artistic design of the home. Renowned Marvin windows with low-E-tinting frame the landscapes outside. A locally sourced, custom-forged iron staircase banister welcomes you upstairs, as well as the custom solid wood doors and crown molding, with Peldaño Portuguese tile throughout. The entire home is wired with Cat5 ethernet, built-in security system, and custom doorbell chimes.

The master bath is a spa-like escape with the Aquatic Century whirlpool hydrotherapy bathtub with reheating element, steam shower and Japanese Toto toilet with bidet, all in the tranquil master bathroom adorned in travertine tile, vessel sinks and views of the valley and vineyards below your mountain top retreat.

Additional amenities include a 20 x 20 upstairs office complete with built-in desks, bookcases, and stunning views. A dedicated laundry room with Corian counter space which is plumbed for both gas and electric. There is an on demand hot water heater with recirculating pump and a dual-zone heating system.

The property includes 7.35± acres of lush countryside overlooking the Mount St. Helena ridge tops. From the property, you can gaze upon vineyards, redwood forests, and the peaks and valleys that make up our beloved Sonoma County.

Outdoor amenities include a total of (5) 2,600± gallon water storage tanks housed under the deck. 4 tanks are reserved for irrigation and are sourced from the roof’s rainwater runoff, and 1 tank contains filtered water from the well.  Also included is an underground fire suppression water tank.

The 557± square foot garage can occupy 2 cars and the outside decking measures approximately 1,960± square feet.

There is something about the view at this property that begs you to come back and gaze at the great expanse in front of you. Everything in this home and in the property that surrounds it is dictated by that stunning view. Windows become picture frames and decks become platforms for the imagination. Come and take a look for yourself and see why we think this property is truly spectacular.


Change is in the air and on the ground

by Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner


Change is in the Northern California air. With the shifting seasons, our areas are seeing a change in drought conditions and even a change in landscaping trends. Even with the wet weather we have enjoyed recently, there are lasting changes from the drought we can still see in the natural landscape as well as the attitudes of those of us who call this special place home.  

For years, the landscaping trend in California has been focused on reducing our need for supplemental watering. Landscapers have been working in overdrive since 2014 to tear up traditional sod yards to replace them with drought-resistant, native species of foliage. This type of landscaping helps to improve your property’s environment in so many ways, and at the same time, saves your family time and money. 

Homeowners that opt for these alternative landscaping ideas, tends to see more wildlife and more fascinating ways to live in the space, themselves. Swapping typical landscaping plants with native species encourages native species (insect and bird) to visit your property. When you change your yard from grass to a variety of drought tolerant shrubs and flowering plants that attract pollinators and other wildlife to your landscaping. What a wonderful way to add life to your space. These nontraditional yards create a dynamic backdrop to your home that traditional sod just can’t create.

Drought tolerant landscaping uses many different techniques to reduce the water needs of the space as a whole. Homeowners can section off parts of the yard to use in different, interesting ways. A patio with a nice table and chairs can help a family spend more time enjoying food and family outdoors. Fire pits with seating for relaxing can create conversations and warmth in those crisp spring evenings. Small plots for herb gardens can give your property a little taste of that farm to table lifestyle. Pathways and hidden crannies create an alluring yard full of interest and intrigue that with capture the imagination of children and adults, alike.  

Even using different species of grasses can help to cut down on water consumption and help your family save money and benefit the planet. Landscapers are trading traditional grass species for species like buffalo grass or sedge grass, which can use half the water of traditional species. There are so many innovative ways to incorporate water (and money) saving techniques to your landscaping, catching on this California post-drought trend, has never been easier, or more beautiful. 

For additional reading:




For Spring Cleaning in Sebastopol, Keywords for Googling

by Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner

Ah, springtime! As the daylight hours grow longer and buds and blossoms dot Sebastopol’s trees and gardens, even when a rainy day is in the forecast, the feeling of new life in the air can’t be denied!

Also undeniable is the all-too-apparent fact that Sebastopol’s bright April sunlight is now illuminating months’ worth of dirt on the windows. And now we can see more areas of the carpet that show the winter’s accumulation of … what is that? For residents from one end of California to the other, the balmy weather definitely triggers a popular urge to put households in shape. But since there is a simultaneous contradictory urge to get outdoors to enjoy Sebastopol’s good weather, it seems like an apt moment to try to retrieve some of the many time-saving tips that are out there on the web.

In other words, it’s time for Google. To aid in in Sebastopol’s Googling efforts, here are some valuable spring cleaning search keywords. Enter any of these in combination with “spring cleaning” and Google will bombard you with scads of valuable insights and shortcuts:

  • “White Vinegar.” It’s a universal disinfectant that’s carried in gallon jugs on Sebastopol grocery store shelves. Many of Sebastopol’s professional housekeepers know how effective and environmentally friendly diluted vinegar is—and how rapidly the residual odor disperses.
  • “Sponges.” Cut down on paper towel consumption by collecting a variety of quality sponges and having them at the ready. If you wet and microwave them regularly, bacteria won’t accumulate (and they’ll smell fresh, too). Side benefit: when you nuke wet sponges, stuff on the inside of the microwave will come off easily!
  • “Dusting mitt.” They’re useful for more than just Venetian blinds. You can also substitute with athletic socks (then just throw them in the washer).
  • “Baseboards.” Vacuuming the floors doesn’t eliminate the edge problem—that’s where the most stubborn winter debris tends to shelter in place. If you use whatever attachment (soft brush or nozzle) that lets you vacuum the baseboard contour before starting on the floor, the problem disappears.
  • “Baking soda.” The cure for smelly carpet areas: sprinkle, let stand overnight, vacuum.
  • “Cola.” Clean toilets by pouring, waiting an hour, flushing. But when you google “cola” with “spring cleaning,” you’ll also find warnings about the deposits cola leaves behind. Solve that by following up with an undiluted cup of—you guessed it—vinegar.
  • “Lemon.” Google this one along with “spring cleaning” and you’ll be able to choose which of the 2½ million hints to put into action!

For some Sebastopol homeowners, this spring will find them putting their homes up for sale. If that’s the case, give us a call for a professional Realtor’s® take on which spring cleaning efforts are likely to reap the greatest rewards!   

Sharing the gold

by Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner

Sonoma County is world renown for many things. The natural landscape of Northern California evokes all the senses, all at once, and is one of our area's most enjoyable and precious assets. The Sonoma County Park System is such a constant in the area now, that many remember a time when the system and the protection and recreation it provides, did not exist. Fifty years ago, on the 30th of January in 1967,  the first county park was created in Bodega Bay at Doran Beach. With camping, fishing, hiking, and many other outdoor recreational opportunities, this park is still a local staple, even today.


And now at the Sonoma County Park System’s golden anniversary, the beauty expands over 56 parks across 11,000 acres. Among this pristine collection of lands, trial systems, beaches and water recreation areas are available and protected for the use of all of us. Visitors enjoy the novel experiences available in these locals and residents gain intimate knowledge of their favorite, local outdoor playground.

More and more people are enjoying all of the park splendors. As the population has tripled since the inception of the county park system, 50 years ago, so has the yearly membership holder, now around 25,000 individuals. And although budgets always fall short of utopian aspirations, the system has recently added four more major parks in the last seven years. Taylor Mountain, North Sonoma Mountain Laguna Trial, and Coastal Prairie Trail have been added and improved for the public to enjoy. In the future, the change in ownership of Tolay Creek Ranch, a 1,665-acre plot to help double the Tolay Creek, Regional Park.

From towering redwoods, to dramatic coastlines, and every wild space in between, our parks are little pieces of the best this area has to offer. Whether an outdoor adventure or a relaxing place to unwind, the Sonoma County Park System is as diverse as interests themselves.


For more information, and further reading:

The Press Democrat, “Sonoma County parks system began 50 years ago with Doran Beach”

Doran Beach Regional Park

Sonoma County Park System


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 87




Contact Information

Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner
Artisan Sotheby's International Realty
7775 Healdsburg Ave.
Sebastopol CA 95472
(707) 696-6272
(707) 480-4098
Fax: (707) 824-0587