The Sea Ranch, California

Sonoma Coast House was a 3800 SF residence originally constructed in 1971 and haphazardly remodeled over the years into a conglomeration of level changes, multiple stairways, and light starved awkward rooms (white walls on plans). The site is a bluff top lot overlooking a small picturesque cove below. The new construction (black walls on plans) concentrates on opening up interior spaces to one another, as well as to the surrounding light and trees. Ventilation chimneys are used to bleed off summer heat build-up from the extensive southwesterly glazing, a concern for vacation houses that can sometimes go weeks at a time without being occupied (the local design committee all but prohibits roof overhangs).

The original house treated the lot as little more than a placemat, with very little interaction with any site amenities. One now approaches the house via a new meandering stone path passing beneath the boughs of a magnificent old Monterey Pine, and arriving at a massive redwood and concrete trellis designed to support Giant Honeysuckles. The entry space between the kitchen and dining room descends to a split function living room: fireplace and television to the right, and a new glazed octagonal conversation area to the left. Framed with timber girts and debarked Douglas fir log columns, the new tower-like octagon accepts sun deep into the house, visually connects the interior with an adjacent large Monterey Cypress, and affords enhanced vistas for kitchen and dining spaces. The dining room also looks back to the northeast through an exposed braced frame and sloped glazing to the old Monterey Pine and coastal hills beyond.

Although only 850 SF were added to the original footprint, the interior is now completely reworked functionally and structurally, and a new recreation level has been added beneath the ground floor. Existing battered walls are retained, braced, added to, and covered with standing seam copper cladding. Exterior vertical walls are redwood, all interior wood is Douglas fir, and all materials inside and out are left unfinished to age and weather naturally.