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1968

Demonstration House​ at

The Sea Ranch

reimagined by Framestudio

 
Nestled in the towering redwood forests of The Sea Ranch, think of the Mini-Mod as your private hideaway. Designed in 1967 by Joseph Esherick and his associate George Homsey, the cabin was reimagined in 2017 by Chad DeWitt and Framestudio. The 683 square foot, 3 level cabin captures the original spirit of The Sea Ranch with its post and beam construction, open plan loft living, period furnishings while delighting our guests with its privacy and thoughtful appointments. 
 
The Mini-Mod sleeps 4, and due to its fragile historic nature, we welcome equally well-behaved children and canine guests. The cabin is inventoried after each guest, so we'll be in touch should any items be left behind or go missing. 
 
The Mini-Mod has garnered accolades from international media outlets for the preservation of the cabin's architectural integrity.  
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The 20' x 20' footprint is spread out over  3 levels of open plan living.  The living room is on the lowest level with a wood burning fireplace and access to the deck and hot tub. The kitchen and dining area is at the entry level, overlooked from above by the loft bedroom. A unique cantilevered bunkroom, with extra-long twin beds, is suspended off the side of the cabin. 
The generous dining area gathers as many as 6 people around its generous trestle table.  It's the perfect place for dining or assembling a puzzle.  Through the picture window, the ancient moss-covered redwood stump, nature's own sculpture, is surrounded by lush native ferns. An Anthony Burrill print offers sage wisdom for those considering your own bolthole at The Sea Ranch. 
The compact kitchen is fully equipped with everything you need to create your culinary masterpieces. There are restaurant quality cookware and tools, sharp knives, and a full spice rack.  The home's vintage studio pottery collection and Finnish tableware are on full display in the original open shelving.  Cleverly hidden from sight is a compact Bosch dishwasher, and a  drawer storing trays and bakeware hidden in the toe kick.  Eco-friendly Woken Coffee and a gas outdoor grill are provided for your stay.  
The living room, with a built-in wool sectional sofa, is the perfect place for mastering the art of doing nothing in particular. Generous enough to seat the everyone in your party under warm throw blankets in front of the open fire.  It's also an ideal place to watch movies like Star Wars: Return of the Jedi from the movie library. Lose yourself gazing out the window, questioning if Ewoks are real. (They are.)  The Sonos soundbar connects via a simple phone app to your music playlists.  The Xbox One provides hours of distraction-free adult time away from the kids.
You may catch yourself daydreaming about what life was like in the days when The Sea Ranch was a rural sheep farm from your tractor seat stool.  Once you've wasted a sufficient amount of time, use the fiber optic 50 Mbps internet to catching up on emails or at very least to extend your out of office responder for a few more days. From this driver's seat, you are mere inches away from the towering redwood forest that surrounds the cabin.  
The comfort of the queen-sized bed in the sleeping loft overlooking the dining area is the most commented on amenity by our guests.  Behind the headboard is a locally themed library.  Peruse books on local subjects like Christo and Jeanne Claude's Running Fence, monographs on The Sea Ranch architects or a find a guidebook to help identify the local fauna. The latest issue of Surface and Sonoma Magazine are always on hand. You won't find a guide to the local edible mushrooms, as we can't endorse that style of culinary risk-taking. 
While compact in size, the Mini-Mod is not short on storage.  Inside the blue bedroom cupboards, you'll find space to hang your clothes,  extra pillows and blankets to help you sleep extra soundly under the starry sky above. Games, folding beach chairs and tennis rackets as well as an emergency power outage kit and clothes iron can be found in the bunkroom closets. At the top of the stairs, there's a hidden hinged partition that affords privacy between the two sleeping areas.  
The bath at the top of the stairs retains the original full-sized bathtub and shower combo but has been updated with the addition of a heated towel rack. The bathing amenities are from NYC's  Malin+Goetz, and we feature their  Eucalyptus Body Wash, Peppermint Shampoo, Cilantro Daily Hair Conditioner, and Lime Hand Wash. Terry bath linens and beach towels are provided, and should your bathing suits not dry from last nights soak in the hot tub,  there is a full-size washer and dryer in the outdoor closet to assist. 
The original bunkbeds were rebuilt according to the original plans - each with its own operable window and reading light. Lower the cargo nets to provide extra safety for your little guests, while adults will appreciate the extra long twin mattresses. Under the bunk are Supergraphics, a painted wall graphic wayfinding system pioneered at the nearby Moonraker Recreation Center by Barbara Stauffacher Solomon. (Ours points the way to the toilet.)  As our guest, you'll have access to the 3 recreation center pools, tennis courts, pickleball courts, and miles of private trails. 
 

Location

The Mini-Mod sits in the historic south end of The Sea Ranch, an area that's known for its natural beauty, important architecture, and for being most true to planner Lawrence Halprin's original vision.

 

Located 107 miles north of San Francisco, driving times are approximately 2.5-3 hours, depending on traffic.  

 

The sound of waves crashing beckons you to the beach - only a 30-minute hike from the cabin.

  

Stewarts Point Store - purveyor of modern essentials like coffee, wine, baked goods and pizza on Friday nights is a 4 mile drive to the south.  

 

Gualala, with its gourmet Surf Market, flagship Placewares store, and numerous art galleries and dining options lie 9 miles north. 

 

 

History

Commissioned by the original developers of The Sea Ranch, Hawaii based Oceanic Properties, the cabin was built in 1968 by Matt Silvia. Along with Esherick's more famous Hedgerow Homes on Black Point Reach, these homes were Demonstration Homes - model homes that demonstrated the design guidelines and lifestyle of The Sea Ranch in practice. Esherick collaborated with his associate George Homsey in the work done at The Sea Ranch and is responsible for the design for the Sales Office, General Store, and Restaurant, better known as The Sea Ranch Lodge. The Mini-Mods were conceived as inexpensive, entry-level homes, with three variations allowed them to adapt to any lot a buyer might choose. The modest homes were designed from the onset with future expansion in mind, and as a result, most of these homes have been modified. The Esherick Mini-Mod is unique in that it retains its original layout. 

 

Homsey remarked in a response to the original owners who inquired about commissioning plans for expansion:

"As I remember your house was one of our best mini mods; it represented the latest refinements in a series of three."

 

The cabin was purchased partially furnished by John and Carol Marchant in 1968.  A prominent Berkeley attorney, Marchant served as president of the board of directors at The Sea Ranch during the Bane Bill years that lead to the formation of the California Coastal Commission.  Marchant recalled that the cabin was well loved; nicknamed "Old Yeller" for the yellow painted interiors, traces of which can still be seen.

 

In 2010, long deferred maintenance was commenced and Homsey was again consulted to add insulation to the roof. The original redwood plywood siding was replaced with mahogany plywood, as the redwood siding was no longer in production. New replacement windows and sliding doors with mullions attempt to capture the look of the originals which had a mullion dividing the tempered lower lite from the untempered upper. The interior suffered over the years, with many original elements dismantled or missing.   

 

The home changed hands to its present owners in the winter of 2017. The new owners, the Creative Director of Bay Area design and architecture collaborative Framestudio and his partner, a health physicist, conceived of a design that would balance modern functional needs while preserving the original historic fabric and spirit of the cabin. New interventions were intended to both contrast with and complement the original interiors. Missing elements were recreated from old wood.  Period appropriate furnishings were installed, along with a dramatic enameled artwork designed by Barbara Stauffacher Solomon, the graphic designer responsible for The Sea Ranch rams head logo and the Supergraphics at Moonraker Recreation Center. 

 

The new owners consulted George Homsey in their design and were honored to receive his enthusiastic approval for their work on the Mini-Mod prior to his passing in 2019. 

 

Recommended Reading Links:

Journey to the Sea Ranch 1962-1970 

Sea Ranch: Architecture, Environment, and Idealism 

Appropriate: The Houses of Joseph Esherick

Hall of Femmes: Barbara Stauffacher Solomon

The Sea Ranch: Diary of an Idea

 

 

 

 

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