By Essia Sahli
Photography by Drew Kelly
July 26, 2018
Framestudio architects give a second chance to the Sea Ranch Cabin, a low-cost holiday home from the mid-twentieth century, maintaining balance between both new and old
Who said the perfect holiday home has to be big? Offering up big style, tiny homes (many of which can be completely disassembled) have exploded over the last few years for their flexibility and potential. The latest example comes from the Framestudio design collective, which has restyled a 1960’s cottage in the forests of northern California. Originally constructed by American architect Joseph Esherick as a model for low-cost holiday homes, the Sea Ranch Cabin is part of a special series of homes in San Francisco’s Bay Area.
The cabin, situated in Sonoma County, covers 63 square meters. Maintaining its character, Framestudio decided to leave the original exterior, made completely of wood, in tact. Designed in the 1960’s according to Modernist tradition, the tiny holiday home in the countryside was constructed with local materials like Douglas Fir and Sequoia. This practice would give life to a style known as “Third Bay Tradition” or more simply, “Sea Ranch”, although many of the nearby properties have since been modified or expanded.
Because of the elementary layout and reduced dimensions of the homes, very few are left in their original state. During the restoration, architects maintained modest interiors, honoring the original layouts by Esherick, balancing their modifications with the conservation of the exteriors. Additions included a complete kitchen and night area along with a simple storage area. Wardrobes in black laminate were installed, as well as a dishwasher, extra drawers, and a disposal system based on restored wooden elements recovered from the construction period.
The night area of the cabin is found on the second floor, divided between two bedrooms, where Framestudio constructed a separating element at full height to guarantee privacy between the sleeping areas. This element can also be folded into the wall, connecting with the raw panels of Douglas Fir to leave an open plan.
Within the Sea Ranch Cabin there are diverse space-saving solutions to maximize every square meter, including bunk beds and an integrated sofa in the living room with a queen-size pullout bed.
To little surprise, the small, modernist architectural gem is now inspiring new homes in the community to utilize local materials while uncovering more of the historical 1960’s design.