We extensively remodeled a small 1916 uninsulated former ranch foreman’s cabin, enlarging it while maintaining the original footprint and the bulk of the stone foundation. We took a modern look at the local rural vernacular and made an effort to reconnect the house to the local landscape, light and air. The cabin is located in a small Southern California town within a grove of protected 200 year old oaks. The additions work with the trees and respect their root systems.
The cabin was originally 1350 sq. ft. A new front porch, entry, and master bedroom extension were “clipped” onto the existing structure, bringing the new size to 2135 sq. ft. The 8’ ceilings and interior walls were removed. The house is in a flood plain and the finished floor height was raised accordingly. The roof was reframed and the exterior walls were newly insulated. The front porch roof is flipped up butterfly-style to enlarge the welcoming face of the house, to allow more sunlight inside, and to focus on the views of the distant mountains, citrus groves and palm trees.
The porch is outfitted with large canvas roll-down shades with sailboat hardware, tempering the afternoon sun and creating an outdoor room in the evenings. In winter the shades block the wind and rain allowing the porch to be used year-round. New French doors allow the new open kitchen, porch and living room to function as one large space for entertaining. The porch acts as a stage for occasional musical events. With the restored original stone fireplace and new high-ceilinged living room, it provides a large space for friends and family to gather.
A new metal roof is a response to local fire threats and serves as support for a solar system that provides the electrical requirements of the house. The bathroom is enclosed with open framing and acrylic panels. With a large skylight and LED lighting the small structure glows like a paper lantern. The semi-detached bath house is sheathed in Sho-Sugi-Ban Burned cedar siding.
The 650 sq. ft. guest house studio was converted from a garage. Polished concrete floors were added along with a random-width whitewashed wood ceiling. A small Rais wood-burning stove heats the studio when necessary.
The adaptations of the outbuildings give new life to the unused structures and extend the owner’s living space out into the property. With its rediscovered connection to the Southern California landscape, this small house thinks of itself as being much larger.