Along a rugged, ten-mile stretch of California’s foggy and windy coast, about 100 miles north of San Francisco and 120 miles west of Sacramento, in the small community of Sea Ranch, an innovative and amusingly unconventional house perched on a high cliff above the Pacific Ocean has a ‘mystical portal’, a corrugated iron pipe that uses the wind to transmit ocean sounds to the house.
The multi-story residence, which recently went on the market for $ 8 million, was originally designed and built in 1972 by architect Carson J. Bowler, and carefully remodeled and expanded in 1997 by architect Obie Bowman. The exterior clad with redwood copper and standing seam cladding gives way to light-flooded interiors clad with Douglas fir.
The house covers about 4,700 square meters and is spread over more than half a dozen levels with a total of five bedrooms and three bathrooms. Among the many unique and innovative features, the south-west facing glazed tower fulfills two purposes: it showers the house with natural light even on foggy days and contains ventilation fireplaces that release warm air that builds up when the afternoon sun warms the house.
A discreet series of stone steps lead from the driveway and pass under old Monterey pines as you walk to the front of the house where a concrete and muscle redwood trellis marks the front entrance and a large terrace with a fire pit offers a view of the sea.
On one side of the slender entrance hall, overlooking the living room, there is a dining room with a monumental fireplace, and on the other, the custom-made kitchen, flooded with light thanks to a huge skylight, brings the exterior with coal slate tiles and mossy green granite counters. It’s up a handful of steps to the forked living room, which includes a double-height room with high glass walls and a more intimate lounge with a built-in window seat and fireplace. Each room has a wide view of the ocean.
At the western end of the house, a private study with tall bookshelves and a built-in desk leads to the master bedroom with en-suite bathroom, floor-to-ceiling windows, walk-in closet and a separate bathroom. Two guest rooms with sea views are located below the office and the master bedroom. They share a spacious bathroom with a huge shower and a sauna, as well as a recreation room with a wine cellar.
At the western end of the house, a wooden staircase leads to a secondary guest wing, which includes a cozy media lounge, two more guest rooms and a bathroom. In one of the bedrooms, which is located on the lowest level of the house, the sea sound transmitting tube enters the house. Outside, a number of decks, one with a jacuzzi, offers plenty of space to look out to sea and watch the stars on clear nights.
The Sea Ranch Community was developed from the 1960s onwards as a community that should be in harmony with its dramatic natural environment. The distinctive architecture of the community, an example of the Third Bay tradition that swept the Bay Area and northern California in the 1960s and 70s, consists mainly of wooden structures clad with wooden boards or shingles, giving a geometric touch to the native agricultural structures. The roof lines are steeply sloping with no overhang, allowing the ever-present breeze to pass over the landscape with little resistance.
Taking the third bay tradition to a new level, this unique residence is listed by Pattie Lawton of San Francisco brokerage Sotheby’s International Realty.