Architect / Firm: Michael Barron-Wike Architect AIA
Awards: Peoples Choice Year: 2012 Entry Categories: Alteration/Restoration/Rehab/Historic Preservation
Project Location: The Sea Ranch, CA
Owner: Larry & Gladys Marks
Completion Date: 06/01/2011
Esherick “Hedgerow House” Revived
In 1964, Joseph Esherick designed a complex of environmentally conscious residences for a new development on ten square miles of unspoiled northern California coastline. Esherick carefully sited these six homes among the existing cypress hedgerows, and these “Demonstration Houses” became architectural prototypes for the community to follow. The design concept became so influential that this complex of homes was recognized in 2006 by Fine Homebuilding Magazine as one of “The 25 Most Important Houses in America.”
Working closely with the community’s design committee and the owners, the project goal was to balance this Demonstration Home’s historical preservation with improvements for contemporary living. This 1,860 square foot, three-bedroom home had minimal improvements since the original construction. Therefore, all of the existing structures required renovations including: the house, entry porch, garage, workshop, decks, and walkways. Portions of the project needed redesign; 75% of the property structures needed rebuilding; and additions were kept to a minimum (less than 90 sf). It was time for a complete makeover with a project budget of $600,000.
The buildings were stripped down to framework with a two-story window seat bay added on the ocean side of the house. Combining spaces and removing unnecessary walls simplified the interior rooms. For example, the small, confined kitchen was redesigned to become a larger, more functional social space. The adjacent dining room was also opened up to dramatic ocean views with the addition of the window seat bay. (See pictures #6, 9 & 11 for additional before photos.)
Similar to the lower floor, the upper floor master bedroom was enlarged and improved with the bay window seat addition. A walk-in closet and larger, en suite bathroom replaced the old bathroom and third bedroom. The staircase dormer was raised and extended over an enlarged storage room, now converted into the third bedroom. Wood paneling throughout the house was removed, refinished, and reinstalled. The pecan floors were preserved and extended into the remodeled kitchen. The existing equipment, appliances, and fixtures were inadequate and inefficient. New cabinetry, heating, plumbing, lighting, and insulation systems greatly improved the functionality of the home.
The exterior renovations required equal care. The deteriorating brick fireplace was removed and replaced with a more efficient, wood burning assembly. New re-sawn cedar shakes preserved the original look of the house, while new technology, such as a wall drainage membrane and stainless steel fasteners, increased durability against harsh, oceanfront elements. Clad, wood framed, double-glazed windows and doors were added, replacing existing windows and doors. This upgrade dramatically improved views and the thermal values of the building envelope. Larger decks, new benches, and a flagstone patio expanded the wind-protected, outdoor living areas.
Through thoughtful design and careful use of 21st century materials, this iconic home now honors its heritage while enhancing the quality of life for the owners.
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