The Cabin at Point Reyes

A fam­ily fixes up a di­lap­i­dated, at-risk 1905 cabin in the woods, re­spect­ing lo­cal build­ing cus­tom as they cre­ate a re­treat on the wild coast.

Arts and Crafts Homes - - CONTENTS - by Brian D. Cole­man

wHEN MOLLY AND SETH ROSEN were un­der­grad­u­ates at Berke­ley, a fa­vorite es­cape was hik­ing in the scenic Point Reyes Na­tional Seashore north of the Bay Area. Later they dreamed of hav­ing a va­ca­tion house here, a quiet place for bird watch­ing walks with their chil­dren, Caleb and El­lie. In 2011, they came upon a rus­tic cabin for sale in the vil­lage of In­ver­ness. “The liv­ing room and a bed­room were en­tirely clad in red­wood,” Molly says. “Those rooms, and the spec­tac­u­lar views, made us fall in love with it.” The 1905 hunt­ing cabin was built from na­tive red­wood, us­ing plank con­struc­tion. It had only two bed­rooms, but there was ex­tra sleep­ing space. But “to be hon­est,” the cou­ple agree, “it was in nearly tear­down con­di­tion.” Af­ter be­ing con­demned in 1982 when a mud­slide weak­ened the hill­side, the site had been re­paired and the cabin par­tially re­stored. But the rudi­men­tary post foun­da­tion was fail­ing and the house was no­tice­ably tilted and bowed. There was lit­tle in­su­la­tion; rooms were of­ten cold and drafty. Alu­minum-framed win­dows added in the 1980s all but ob­scured the views. The brick chim­ney was un­safe, with mor­tar crum­bling

and day­light vis­i­ble through cracks. Elec­tri­cal and plumb­ing were not up to code, and the orig­i­nal cesspool, a red­wood box buried in the hill, was still in ser­vice. Im­me­di­ately they in­stalled a new sep­tic sys­tem, and had the over­grown ivy and dis­eased trees cut back. At the same time they re­searched the his­tory of the “Old In­ver­ness” style of sum­mer cab­ins, even knock­ing on neigh­bors’ doors for a look. Ar­chi­tect Ron­ald Casassa helped them de­velop a his­tor­i­cally ap­pro­pri­ate plan for restora­tion. They de­mol­ished the ter­mite-in­fested deck and newer ad­di­tions, and raised the house to al­low in­stal­la­tion of a new foun­da­tion of 35 con­crete piers drilled into gran­ite. “We’re on the fault,” Molly says, “so we had to start by lift­ing the house for a new foun­da­tion. We put it back down on the 25th an­niver­sary of the Loma Pri­eta earth­quake, a sober­ing re­minder of why we needed to make the cabin struc­turally sound.” Now there’s a lower floor, built us­ing sal­vaged old-growth red­wood from stor­age rooms and large fir beams from a sal­vage lum­ber­yard.

To pro­tect the old red­wood walls, they built an ex­oskele­ton around the house and then in­stalled wiring and in­su­la­tion. In­te­rior walls were lightly sand­blasted to re­move a cen­tury of smoke and grime, and left to mel­low nat­u­rally. The ex­te­rior was sheathed in Hardie Shin­gle sid­ing that closely re­sem­bles the Old In­ver­ness look, but is made of fire­proof fiber-ce­ment. (The cabin is in a Wild­land–Ur­ban In­ter­face Zone that has con­struc­tion re­stric­tions due to a wild­fire threat.) Marvin’s

In­tegrity brand win­dows were cho­sen for their wood in­te­rior and fiber­glass ex­te­rior, which would with­stand the cor­ro­sive salt­wa­ter en­vi­ron­ment. In the red­wood liv­ing room, the main change is the Pe­wabic tile fire­place.

The kitchen had been re­done in the 1980s with vinyl floor­ing and blue lam­i­nate coun­ter­tops. It was taken down to the studs. A six-foot-wide al­cove added to the south­west end of the room holds a sal­vaged farm­house sink and drain­board; lit by a bank of clear glass sky­lights, the bay opened the room to the moss-cov­ered canopy of coast live oak out­side. The orig­i­nal fir floors un­der the vinyl were re­fin­ished, and nat­u­ral Teixeira soap­stone coun­ter­tops in­stalled. “The sal­vaged French door, which I painted red, came from Ur­ban Ore in Berke­ley,” Molly says. “We sal­vaged all the lower cab­i­nets, ad­ding new fronts and vin­tage hard­ware.” Bulky up­per cab­i­nets were re­placed with open racks and a 1912 Hoosier cab­i­net. The mod­est cen­ter is­land has a prac­ti­cal, oval butcherblock top.

Fur­nish­ings are ca­sual, an invit­ing mix of fam­ily an­tiques and com­fort­able Amer­i­can Arts & Crafts seat­ing. A Rus­sian brass samovar con­verted into a lamp by Molly’s grand­mother joins an ice­box from Seth’s grand­mother, now used for stor­age.

“We com­mis­sioned a Berke­ley artist to make the stained­glass win­dow that mir­rors the view out­side. And a Pe­taluma car­pen­ter, nearly 80 years old, lov­ingly built the plate rack that Seth de­signed. Brian Lee at Men­do­cino Doors made the en­try door us­ing re­claimed, old-growth red­wood. The wall­pa­per frieze is from Brad­bury & Brad­bury—their fac­tory is close by in Beni­cia, and I was able to meet them. So the best part of our project,” says Molly, “was cel­e­brat­ing the Crafts­man phi­los­o­phy of work­ing with lo­cal crafts­peo­ple and mo­tifs.” a

photos by Wil­liam Wright

ABOVE The kitchen was en­larged with a six-foot-wide sink al­cove. sin­tage touches in­clude the farm­house sink and a 1952 re­stored stove. The sal­vaged slid­ing pocket door was added to close off the laundry room be­yond.

LEFT An an­tique oak eoosier is a charm­ing way to add stor­age along with pe­riod ap­peal. RIGHT A stained-glass win­dow de­pict­ing To­ma­les Bay, with na­tive irises and pop­pies, lights the stair­well; the cast-iron chan­de­lier is orig­i­nal to the cabin. then the house was lifted onto a new foun­da­tion, it got a lower floor, built us­ing old-growth red­wood from stor­age rooms and sal­vaged fir beams.

OP­PO­SITE In the red­wood bed­room, the col­or­ful Stacked-N-thacked lay­ered quilt was made by Molly’s step­mother, Judy. ABOVE LEFT Seth oosen ad­mits he al­ways wanted a se­cret room, so he hid one un­der the stairs for his chil­dren. RIGHT In the guest bath, green 3"x 6" sub­way tiles and a re­pro­duc­tion hohler ‘Mem­oir’ pedestal sink have a vin­tage look.

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