Settle in the Celebrated Sea Ranch For Under $2.9M

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By Jenny Xie
Designed by iconic architect Charles Moore, this oceanfront home enjoys its own promontory in a historic community in Northern California.

Stretching 10 miles along the Pacific shoreline in Sonoma County, California, the groundbreaking Sea Ranch community is now 51 years old. The iconic settlement is responsible for the now-familiar concept of living lightly on the land, a philosophy championed by landscape designer Lawrence Halprin, who devised a master plan for the Sea Ranch in 1963. Now, those who want to experience Halprin’s utopian vision have the chance with the arrival of a 1971 residence designed by Charles Moore on the market. Moore—who formed the original Sea Ranch architectural firm of MLTW along with Donlyn Lyndon, William Turnbull, and Richard Whitaker—believed in architecture that promotes exploration and discovery, and his style is readily apparent in this three-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath oceanfront home.

Photos by Paul Kozal

Settle in the Celebrated Sea Ranch For Under $2.9M - Photo 1 of 11 - Original wood paneling and tile flooring run throughout the house. The front entry leads into an integrated kitchen and dining space.

Original wood paneling and tile flooring run throughout the house. The front entry leads into an integrated kitchen and dining space.

Settle in the Celebrated Sea Ranch For Under $2.9M - Photo 2 of 11 - Barring the bathrooms, every room in the house looks out at the ocean. "Even though the house was designed and built before there were any neighbors in view, Moore anticipated them by having no windows to the east apart from a skylight, thus insuring privacy," says co-owner Alison Owings.

Barring the bathrooms, every room in the house looks out at the ocean. "Even though the house was designed and built before there were any neighbors in view, Moore anticipated them by having no windows to the east apart from a skylight, thus insuring privacy," says co-owner Alison Owings.

Settle in the Celebrated Sea Ranch For Under $2.9M - Photo 3 of 11 - A favorite view of Owings' is looking up while lying on the living room rug. "I am constantly astonished how Moore worked out the angles, with wood and steel and braces, all in plain view," she says. A mirror hangs above the fireplace, reflecting the water. The stairs to the right lead to a multifunctional loft space, where the sunset is visible year-round.

A favorite view of Owings' is looking up while lying on the living room rug. "I am constantly astonished how Moore worked out the angles, with wood and steel and braces, all in plain view," she says. A mirror hangs above the fireplace, reflecting the water. The stairs to the right lead to a multifunctional loft space, where the sunset is visible year-round.

Settle in the Celebrated Sea Ranch For Under $2.9M - Photo 4 of 11 - Banquette seating in the living room places guests at the edge of a panoramic view. A 1970s chessboard hides under one of the cushions.

Banquette seating in the living room places guests at the edge of a panoramic view. A 1970s chessboard hides under one of the cushions.

The current homeowners, Alison Owings and Jonathan Perdue, purchased the residence in 2000 and have maintained the original wood paneling, tile flooring, and countertops, down to the painted chessboard under a banquette cushion in the living room. The only modifications have been the addition of two interior doors for warmth and privacy. "We work assiduously to keep the house in excellent condition, considering ourselves more stewards than owners," says Owings. "We knew in an instant that the house was spectacularly well-thought out and well-designed. I gave my husband a thumbs up sign behind the realtor’s back."

Settle in the Celebrated Sea Ranch For Under $2.9M - Photo 5 of 11 - The angular master bedroom benefits from plenty of windows, including a skylight above a built-in vanity.

The angular master bedroom benefits from plenty of windows, including a skylight above a built-in vanity.

Settle in the Celebrated Sea Ranch For Under $2.9M - Photo 6 of 11 - The freestanding tub in the master bath leads to a private, raised deck.

The freestanding tub in the master bath leads to a private, raised deck.

Settle in the Celebrated Sea Ranch For Under $2.9M - Photo 7 of 11 - A hot tub offers a private sanctuary with scenic views.

A hot tub offers a private sanctuary with scenic views.

Settle in the Celebrated Sea Ranch For Under $2.9M - Photo 8 of 11 - An outdoor patio provides the perfect setting for morning coffee or a summer get-together. The trail that connects the Sea Ranch community runs behind the house, lending it more privacy in comparison with other buildings.

An outdoor patio provides the perfect setting for morning coffee or a summer get-together. The trail that connects the Sea Ranch community runs behind the house, lending it more privacy in comparison with other buildings.

Set on a private flag lot west of a continuous bluff trail, the home offers ocean views from nearly every room and a large outdoor patio. The asymmetrical home rises and falls across multiple levels in response to the terrain. From the master suite tower, two wings emerge: one includes the master bedroom suite with its own private deck and hot tub; the other includes guest areas, full of playful elements like library shelves installed in the bathroom and bunk beds. The layout of the home makes it ideal for renting out, which the current owners do when they are out of town. "There’s lots of privacy, especially for two couples, or one couple and another group," says Owings. "In addition, there are many nooks for reading and napping."

Settle in the Celebrated Sea Ranch For Under $2.9M - Photo 9 of 11 - A bunk room in the guest wing sleeps four, ideal for family reunions or bigger groups.

A bunk room in the guest wing sleeps four, ideal for family reunions or bigger groups.

Settle in the Celebrated Sea Ranch For Under $2.9M - Photo 10 of 11 - In keeping with Moore's whimsical design sense, a guest bathroom has its own library.

In keeping with Moore's whimsical design sense, a guest bathroom has its own library.

"The house is extraordinarily comfortable—or is the word ‘livable’?" continues Owings. "A lot of visitors note that they planned to go out to eat somewhere, but the kitchen was so inviting, and the dining room right there, and with a fire in the fireplace...they never left."

Settle in the Celebrated Sea Ranch For Under $2.9M - Photo 11 of 11 - Sea Ranch master planner Lawrence Halprin envisioned an ecologically-minded community that wouldn't disturb the breathtaking natural surroundings of the coast. Charles Moore's design nestles into the land. "There is nothing flashy—or tall or garish—about the house; it is sturdy, solid," says Owings.

Sea Ranch master planner Lawrence Halprin envisioned an ecologically-minded community that wouldn't disturb the breathtaking natural surroundings of the coast. Charles Moore's design nestles into the land. "There is nothing flashy—or tall or garish—about the house; it is sturdy, solid," says Owings.

The house is on the market for $2,875,000. More information can be found online. For those looking to rent the home, the Owings-Perdue Residence is available for $941 for two nights through Sea Ranch Escape.

To submit a home for rent or sale, email jxie@dwell.com.

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