Houzz Tour: A Cedar-clad Coastal Home With a Space-smart Layout
On California’s Sonoma Coast, a designing duo create a stylish getaway in a famed planned community of modernist homes
That dream is now a reality in the form of a one-bedroom, glass-and-cedar-sided “object” with forest and ocean views, a flexible floor plan, and cool experimental design details befitting two pros who lucked out with the ideal clients: themselves.
Who lives here? Architect Geoff Campen and his wife, architectural designer Diana Ruiz
Location The Sea Ranch, Sonoma County, California, USA
Size One bedroom, one shower room and two cloakrooms; about 155 sq m
General contractor Empire Contracting
Structural engineer ZFA Structural Engineers
Photos by Mariko Reed
The Sea Ranch development – a paragon of West Coast modernism founded in the 1960s – comprises privately owned homes and plots, an extensive trail system and a handful of recreational facilities along a 10-mile stretch on either side of California’s iconic Highway 1. Geoff and Diana’s home is on the eastern side of the road, where the coastal meadows begin to rise into the wooded hills.
“The house is kind of among the trees, and in the forest a little bit. And the front of the house has the ocean view. So we were pretty lucky to be able to find this site, in that it had a little bit of both,” says Geoff, a partner at San Francisco-based Klopf Architecture, a Best of Houzz-winning firm.
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“The general idea in The Sea Ranch is the houses and buildings share and complement the land. That’s part of why we liked The Sea Ranch,” Geoff says. “Of course, being an architect [and designer], we tried to challenge some of the typical sensibilities a little bit through some of the geometries and shapes.”
For example, the home is low at the front and taller at the back, giving it the appearance of an “object” that sits down and shares the landscape with the trees rising behind it, Geoff says. Technically, the roof is a modified gable, which is common among homes at The Sea Ranch – but “the gable just goes from corner to corner instead of from the middle of the front to the middle of the back,” he says.
The exterior is covered in vertical cedar cladding, a material traditionally used in the neighbourhood. A semitransparent black stain through which some of the natural wood is visible helps the home recede into the trees’ shadows.
“It’s temperate inside all the time, but there’s no moving air with [underfloor heating],” Geoff says. The home is also wired for solar, which the couple plan to install when the budget permits.
In the open-plan dining and living space, seen here, large aluminium windows frame the view of the meadow and the Pacific Ocean beyond it. Above the windows and around the home’s entire first floor at that same level is a shelf fitted with linear uplighting and downlighting. Roller blinds that blend with the window frame are mounted below it.
“We thought about doing the whole recessed-[blind] thing, but it’s kind of an expensive detail,” Geoff says, adding, “If there’s a box and it’s recessed, everything gets a bit chunkier and bigger. So I kind of like the casualness of just applying it underneath.”
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“The basic organisation of the house is all very open,” Geoff says. “The only doors in the house are going into the bathrooms. So this kitchen surrounds the powder room and is open on both sides. It connects the back of the house with the front of the house, and the kitchen kind of becomes an L, but the opposite L of what a kitchen typically is... That opposite L, and how it integrates with the space, was something we definitely wanted to try, and we think it works really well.”
Along the hall on the left of the photo, you can see the “guts” of the kitchen, which disappear behind a curtain when not in use. Its budget-friendly cabinets from Ikea are topped with a laminate worktop. Hiding the utilitarian elements behind a curtain allows the cleaner, more elegant main part of the kitchen to take centre stage.
“Raw steel, you know, it changes. So it looks different now than it did in the pictures,” Geoff says. “Water droplets, anything that’s left on it, does leave a mark.… We were kind of hovering around, trying to protect it as much as possible for a while. And then you get a few rings on there and it doesn’t matter anymore.”
In collaboration with Heath, painter and sculptor Brendan Monroe created the wavy accent tiles that are integrated into the stretcher bond tile pattern.
“Ninety-eight percent of the time, it’s all open, without the Murphy bed,” Geoff says. “We didn’t want to spend a lot of the extra square footage in the house on a separate guest room. Because while we love people to come visit, it doesn’t happen all that often.”
“[Her artwork is] very contrasting to mine, which is very angular and regimented and hers is very loose and natural,” Geoff says.
Separating the shower area is another design experiment that Geoff has deemed a success.
The space under the stairs conceals the water heater and boiler, as well as storage space.
The vintage wall unit was a total score: one of Klopf Architecture’s clients planned to throw it away during the renovation of their Eichler home, but gave it to Geoff when he expressed an interest. He and Diana use it to hold decorative items picked up through travels and made by friends.
“The dual-tone part in the upstairs was an effect that was necessitated by the tile we were able to find,” Geoff says. “That kind of blue tile is a dual glaze, and those don’t come around very often in their overstock or seconds. So we had to do a combination with another tile, but I think, at the end, it worked out great.”
“No matter where you are in the house, you always have some semblance of the view that goes out towards the ocean and some semblance of the view that is back in the trees,” Geoff says.
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