In 1963, landscape designer Lawrence Halprin devised a master plan for a community that would live in harmony with the natural environment. The resulting Sea Ranch, which stretches 10 miles along the Pacific coastline in Sonoma County, California, is characterized by timber-frame, wood-clad structures that are in dialogue with the local climate and terrain. Sited on a bluff within this pioneering community is the vacation home of a lawyer couple. After purchasing the residence in 2007, they lived in the home as it was for four years, even keeping the previous owners’ furniture. Envisioning a retreat that would accommodate their extended family and guests, they then recruited Butler Armsden Architects and Leverone Design to help guide the project.
In keeping with the philosophy of Sea Ranch, the four-year remodel and addition honors the landscape and emphasizes a sense of place through material integrity. Vertical grain, clear cedar siding clads the exterior while clear fir wraps the interior, and floor-to-ceiling windows offer stunning glimpses of the sea and surrounding meadows. White rift oak, stained a smoky tobacco hue, creates a complementary floor. The clients, who have three adult children, requested durable finishes that would withstand the comings and goings of a large gathering.
Butler Armsden Architects added a new tower to hold a second office, accessed through a powder-coated steel circular stair. The existing garage was transformed into a family room that blends comfort and function—zealous Giants fans, the homeowners now have a communal place to watch games on the TV in front of a fireplace. A new outbuilding houses guest bedrooms, lounge areas, and a garage. All throughout the family retreat, Leverone Design selected fabrics whose texture and color palettes reflect the seaside environs, and work well with the whitewashed fir paneling.
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