Design and Nature in Harmony


Why now is the time to head to the Sonoma Coast and check into the Sea Ranch Lodge, re-envisioned by Nicole Hollis

above: San Francisco-based NICOLEHOLLIS created a tightly edited material and color palette to authentically elevate the 17 guest rooms and suites at the Sea Ranch Lodge (photo by Adam Potts).

To design afficianados, arriving at the Sea Ranch is more than just a welcome relief after braving the twists and turns along Highway 1. It’s a pilgrimage of sorts that now—following the multiyear renovation of the Sea Ranch Lodge’s public spaces, 17 guest rooms, and meeting facilities—better than ever underscores why many make the voyage to this remote swath of Sonoma County’s northern coast.

A view of the original bar area that was emblazoned with supergraphics by pioneering designer Barbara Stauffacher Solomon (photo courtesy of Sea Ranch Lodge).

The experimental master-planned project, undertaken by Hawaii-based developer Oceanic Properties and subsequently realized by an all-star team that included famed landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, architects Moore Lyndon Turnbull Whitaker (MLTW), Joseph Esherick, and graphic designer Barbara Stauffacher Solomon, is more relevant than ever.

Corner bench seats and cozy, earthy elements connect the guest room interiors to stunning views of the wild Sonoma coast (photo by Adam Potts).

Updates by designer Charles de Lisle and architecture firm Mithun that respectfully transformed the Sea Ranch Café, Dining Room, Bar + Lounge, and other shared gathering areas in the original 1964 10,000-square-foot main lodge building were revealed in late 2021, revitalizing this historic community hub of the 10-mile-long development. Terremoto’s gentle landscape interventions add another layer of masterful design cohesion. And most recently, Nicole Hollis has reimagined the adjacent individual rooms and suites with a fresh take on NorCal-inspired Mid-century bohemian modernism.

The bar area was sensitively reimagined as part of Charles de Lisle and Mithun’s updates to The Sea Ranch Lodge’s public gathering spaces, payting tribute to the original design (photo courtesy of Sea Ranch Lodge).

“The rich rust tones of the eroded soil and deep blues of the ocean as you drive along the coastline inspired the color and material palette,” Hollis explains. That way, “the landscape and interiors would feel visually harmonious and wouldn’t distract from the incredible views.” Custom millwork by Santa Cruz Woodworks, fiber art by Berkeley-based Jess Feury, ceramics by Sasinun Kladpetch, fixtures by Rocky Mountain Hardware, and Fireclay tiles are among the elements that express an ideal marriage of sophisticated and low-key groovy. “Nothing was meant to be fussy or over-ornamented so we could keep the focus on the vistas and windswept bluffs that are framed perfectly by the architecture,” the designer adds. Plus, Malm fireplaces in many rooms and window benches are peak cozy refuge.

Fort Ross Vineyard and Winery offers the only tasting room experience open to the public in the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA in Sonoma (photo by Melissa Zink).

“We felt these design principles that we incorporated honor the legacy of the Sea Ranch while taking it forward into the future,” Hollis notes.