Studio By The Sea Ranch


Bonnie Saland of Philomela, a textile and design studio, found a home in the fabled The Sea Ranch community and set about transforming it into the lush and layered studio by the sea she envisioned. Images: Diana Koenigsberg Photography

Bonnie Saland of Philomela in her “studio by the sea” carved out of the home’s former two story garage.

The Sea Ranch, a private community about 100 miles north of San Francisco, was founded in the early 60s on the idealistic principles of Scandinavian design and living in harmony with the land. This house, christened “Sculpture Point”, belongs to Bonnie Saland of Philomela, a textile and design studio known for their original, hand-drawn, painted and printed patterns.

The Sea Ranch’s coastal setting was an immediate draw
The home’s back deck

“My whole thing was an inspiring studio on the sea,” says Saland, “It has a feeling of not being contained which is very different from my house in L.A. which is very constrained and cozy.” 

The living room offers an eclectic mix of furniture and fabrics. The large mint rug is made from saris and was discovered at ABC Carpet & Home.
The sofa’s fabrics were discovered in Bhutan, the metal tray was found at Bonneville Mercantile and the wallpaper in the entryway is from the Studio’s “cobra head” collection
The sculptural steel staircase created by metalworker Alan Sklansky

But while the house offered a stunning view of the Pacific, the original building did not take advantage of its magnificent setting. “It was tired and far too enclosed for our preferences,” Saland remembers.

A corner of the two story studio

Saland brought in “a wildly talented team”: architect, Peter Jenny, metalworker Alan Sklansky, landscape designer Scott Graff and contractor Bryan Dixon had received glowing references from Saland’s realtor. “They bring a vast collective knowledge of The Sea Ranch architecture, landscape, appropriate building materials and zoning regulations,” Saland explains.

A wall of windows captures the stunning views

While leaving the original blueprint of the home and its signature The Sea Ranch details — the dark wood paneling and stone fireplace — intact, the team transformed the interior, bringing it in line with Saland’s wishes for inspirational views.

Saland’s collection of art books fills the passageway between the studio and the main house

The walls that separated the glass front from the entry to the house were removed, the master bedroom blown open to a window wall on the ocean and completely reconfigured, and a two story garage became Saland’s new art studio, with a passageway that connects the space to the house, the repository of her art book library. 

In the kitchen, an awning window pops out. The design for Philomela’s moon fabric came from one of Saland’s lithographs
An old wallpaper table is now the breakfast table. A plastic floor mat, found at Booneville Mercantile, covers the bluestone tiles. The chairs were found at Placewares, a design store in Gualala owned by Kevin Lane and Shev Rush.

The bathroom, the kitchen and the home’s floors were reworked. Sklansky installed a sculptural metal staircase that leads to the second floor’s balcony and rooms. He also worked with Jenny to create many of the home’s unique light fixtures. 

Scandinavian wallpaper, a hide chair, a Chinese rug, a Bhutanese brocade on the couch, textiles from Africa covering the ottomans, a cabinet from India, nod to Saland’s many travels. A bathtub is positioned to take advantage of the views.

Citing Frida Kahlo’s residences, Georgia O’Keefe’s Ghost Ranch and The Bloomsbury Set’s Farmhouse as jumping off points, Saland herself shouldered much of the interior design work, weaving in fabrics from her own collection, inspirational textiles from her travels, and worn but beloved pieces from her wardrobe.

The bathroom was a collaboration between architect Peter Jenny and metalworker Alan Sklansky. The curtain was created from half of a Dries Van Noten scarf.

The color palette, which responds to the landscape, is dominated by the ochre of the sand dunes and the greys, greens and blues of sea. These calming hues are juxtaposed against bright textiles, many acquired on a trip to Bhutan that happily coincided with the purchase of the house.

The bathroom’s seafoam tiles were found at Heath. The lighting fixtures are custom. “Peter and Alan went on a wild bender designing light fixtures!,” laughs Saland

With resources ranging from CB2 and Ikea, to Booneville Mercantile, Mexican flea markets, ABC Carpet, India, Bhutan, and MB Abrams Gallery (who also represents Saland’s fine art work), the overall feeling of the home speaks to the exuberant creativity that is at the heart of Philomela. “It was done in the spirit of an installation for my body of fine art and textile work,” says Saland.

The home’s back yard with landscaping by Scott Graff. “He knows all the indigenous plants. At The Sea Ranch, everything that’s visible has to be local,” says Saland.