Sea Ranch, California
Designing a new, 1,030-square-foot house at the famed Sea Ranch development on the California coast was more than a building process for Turnbull Griffin Haesloop. Principals Eric Haesloop and Mary Griffin also built upon the legacy of firm founder William Turnbull, who in the early 1960s was a chief creative force behind the seminal site. Haesloop puts it simply: “It’s a special place that has evolved a lot.”
In the past four decades, the coastal settlement has grown to roughly 1,700 homes; orienting a new structure thus entailed challenges not faced in its formative years. This L-shaped residence, with an oblique view of the ocean, sits on a lot that bridges dense forest and open meadow — what Haesloop calls a “threshold” condition. That same phrase describes the kitchen, positioned at the intersection of the home’s living and sleeping wings.
Throughout the flowing interior, core walls are sheathed in gypsum, peeling back selectively to reveal cedar framing — a nod to both the original Sea Ranch aesthetic and the clients’ passion for traditional Japanese woodworking and joinery. Painted white, the kitchen cabinets recede into the wall, while a stone-topped cedar island more boldly demarcates the boundary between the kitchen and dining/living area.
The homeowners requested a dedicated breakfast spot separate from the main dining table. Adjoining the kitchen is a compact cedar-clad niche — “apart from the main space, but present in it,” says Haesloop — with built-in slab benches and a cantilevered table. Reached by a single 6-inch step (a rise that allows diners to see over the island to the ocean view beyond), the alcove is dominated by fixed glass windows, dissolving the walls into the surrounding landscape and becoming another kind of threshold: one between indoors and out.