I recently came back from my first stay at Sea Ranch. This was a pilgrimage to visit the works of Charles Moore, William Turnbull and Joseph Esherick, and it was a chance to disconnect and relax. Sea Ranch, which was formed in the 1960’s, is a planned community which was built on the idea of preserving and appreciating the land. Homes were designed to sit gently on the land and are built-in a mid-century rustic vernacular: timber-frame structures clad in wooden siding or shingles, and designed to open onto the landscape. Homes blend into the landscape, sitting low to withstand the rugged winds, and are clustered together to maximize the open meadows and woodlands to be enjoyed by all. Connection to nature is crucial, and during my stay I enjoyed viewing the resident deer, jack-rabbits, turkeys, and varied coastal birds, along with the local frogs that lived under the deck.
Blend into nature. Inspiration and lessons abound at Sea Ranch. First, homes are set close to the land, with the boundaries between home and open-space blurring.
Window seats. You probably know that I love a good window seat…probably a reflection of upbringing on the farm, where being immersed in nature was a fact. At Sea Ranch, expansive walls of glass are coupled with sprawling window seats, allowing one to chase the sun, to take a nap, or to entertain family and friends. Here the biggest decision often comes down to where to sit for the best view.
Cascading levels. Along with blurring boundaries, many of the homes follow the graceful slope of the land. In part this is due to a height limit of 16′. The result is interior spaces that unfold gracefully, with the view of sea and meadow always within reach.
Dual purpose. A headboard is also a closet. A sofa back is also a bookcase. In small homes, multifunctional custom pieces take on greater importance, expanding our experience of space.
Wood cladding. Original to the aesthetic of Sea Ranch, ceilings and walls of untreated, smooth cut lumber are a common sight. The simplicity references the local vernacular of farm sheds, and creates an informal tone. One of the consequences is that yellow/orange are a near constant in any interior. Poured concrete, sisal, white walls and grey accessories act as a counterpoint to all this wood.
Intimate spaces. Small rooms, quiet corners, and private rooms all frame a view, elevating daily activities into reflective moments. Sit back and enjoy your morning coffee, and enjoy the view of deer grazing in the meadow.
David Bjørngaard, August 2018
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