FGA featured in Modern Farmhouse Magazine!

Spring 2022

Read the article below and learn more about the project on our website here: Blending Family.


A biotech exec turned interior designer discovers the secret to modern farmhouse style is a balanced formula of classic and contemporary. 

Palo Alto, California. It’s not exactly Mayberry, and perhaps the last place you’d expect to see a farmhouse. But this isn’t your typical farmhouse, and Soleil Maxwell isn’t your typical interior designer. After 15 years in the biotech industry, she attended design classes at night and apprenticed during the day before tackling her first project: her very own family home.

 “It was quite a big leap between the biotech and design worlds,” Soleil says. “But there were creative components to my job—working on websites, annual reports, and marketing materials—that helped me develop my eye for color, scale, and styling.” 

Soleil and husband Alex Rofman enlisted architects Dan Garber and Jillian Langley of Fergus Garber Architects, giving them the tall task of designing a structure that would live large enough for their blended family of six despite the size of the lot. Unlike the sprawling acres that exist beyond Silicon Valley, Palo Alto parcels are small and siting is tricky due to the city’s stringent codes and regulations. 

“Building ‘up’ rather than ‘out’ enabled us to maximize the footprint,” Garber says. “We designed an expansive common area where the whole family could congregate comfortably, but also gave each member their own private place to retreat. Thanks to the efficient and creative use of space, we weren’t forced to sacrifice the yard and had room to incorporate a pool, multiple patios, and an urban garden with raised vegetable beds.” 

The house boasts the best of both classic and contemporary design not only through its architectural balance, but from a balanced aesthetic as well. Classic shiplap walls, vaulted ceilings, and old-school farmhouse lighting impart timelessness and coziness while sleek stone surfaces, smooth metal finishes, and a black-andwhite palette exude contemporary California cool. 

“The house truly reflects who we are as a family,” Soleil says. “Fun-loving but low-key, creative but practical, modern in mind-set but traditional in values. When it comes to balance, I think we’ve got it down to a science.”

Entry and Stair: Vertical, diagonal, and horizontal lines presented in the shiplap, stair rail, and steps form a playful pattern that creates an illusion of depth in the narrow entryway. 

Kitchen: Accessories made from natural materials and with vintage flair express Soleil’s penchant for simplicity. below: White oak flooring and white perimeter cabinetry blur the line between the kitchen and grea troom. The substantial scale of the inky black island grounds the generously proportioned area and offers essential storage and counter space for prep, serving, and homework. 

Living room: Dormer windows add architectural interest and bathe the great-room in sunlight while offering privacy from neighboring homes. The motorized windows also open to capture cool breezes.

Child bedroom: To avoid sibling rivalry, bedrooms boast equal footprints and views but are distinctly decorated to match each teen’s personality. 

Powder room: The powder room’s Carrara marble-clad vanity recalls the look of a farmhouse sink, but its modified block design features an angular apron. 

Primary bedroom: Soleil deviated from the black-and-white palette and surrendered to sleepier shades of gray for the main bedroom. “We love how secluded we feel here,” she says. 

Primary bath: In the main bath, graphic marble floor tiles put a twist on the traditional basket-weave pattern.

Patio: The patio off the main suite was inspired by the couple’s favorite Calistoga resort, making every day feel like a holiday. The lush landscape acts as a privacy screen and a sound buffer for ultimate tranquility. 

Color Palette Minimalism:

There is nothing basic about black and white. Homeowner and interior designer Soleil Maxwell shares how she maximized style despite a minimal palette. 


Be fearless! Overcompensate for a restricted color palette and go wild with eye-popping prints including wide cabana stripes, complex geometrics, and retro florals.


Ebony, ink, bright white, or candlelight, even the slightest deviations in hue can provide interest. The same theory applies to finishes. Matte, glossy, honed, and polished surfaces reflect light differently, resulting in increased depth and dimension. 


For rugs and upholstery, choose feel-good fabrics like wool, jute, leather, and linen that are soft on the eye and to the touch. 


Let natural wood tones “neutralize” high-contrast interiors and infuse spaces with warmth.


Let the bones of the house get in on the action. Carry out the color scheme in your millwork, cabinetry, and stone selections.


Want to talk? We’re ready to listen. Let us help you bring your project to life.

Contact us