At Home on the Range

On a sto­ried Cal­i­for­nia cat­tle ranch-turned-re­sort, de­signer Nathan Turner re­de­fines the dec­o­rat­ing code of the West.

Veranda - - CONTENTS - IN­TE­RIOR DE­SIGN BY Nathan Turner WRIT­TEN BY Steele Thomas Mar­coux

Draw­ing on his Cal­i­for­nia lin­eage, Nathan Turner re­designs a cot­tage on a Santa Bar­bara cat­tle ranch.

YOU CAN MAP OUT OUR EN­TIRE fam­ily his­tory based on what’s in­side the house,” says Los An­ge­les de­signer Nathan Turner. He’s re­flect­ing on the Cal­i­for­nia cat­tle ranch that has be­longed to his fam­ily for sev­eral gen­er­a­tions, where he spent week­ends and sum­mers help­ing his grand­fa­ther with farm chores and rid­ing horses ev­ery spare minute he had. “There are English an­tiques brought over by my an­ces­tors, some of my grand­par­ents’ things, and pieces from the 1950s that my par­ents added. It’s a real mix, and it works.”

But, per­haps with­out re­al­iz­ing it, he’s also de­scrib­ing his ap­proach to re­design­ing the ac­com­mo­da­tions at The Alisal Guest Ranch, a fam­ily re­sort on a nearly 200-year-old cat­tle ranch tucked in at the base of the Santa Ynez moun­tains in Santa Bar­bara wine coun­try. The newly minted “Turner House,” a three-bed­room, three-bath guest cot­tage along the re­sort’s sy­camore-lined main drive, is the de­signer’s first project at The Alisal. Since first open­ing to guests af­ter World War II by con­vert­ing some of its cat­tle­men’s quar­ters to re­sort ac­com­mo­da­tions, The Alisal has un­der­gone few sub­stan­tial up­dates. The cot­tage along “The Lane” was no ex­cep­tion.

Es­pe­cially as so­cial me­dia mania has fu­eled a per­pet­ual search for the next best thing, The Alisal’s sense of per­ma­nence is ex­tra­or­di­nary. As act­ing head wran­gler Meghan Tay­lor points out—dur­ing a horse­back ride along a por­tion of the re­sort’s 50 miles of trails that wind through its 10,000 acres of yel­low-green hills—the land­scape has re­mained un­al­tered for cen­turies. “But for the fences and the oc­ca­sional paved road, noth­ing out here has changed in the last 200 years,” says Meghan, a par­tic­u­larly re­mark­able ob­ser­va­tion given the ranch is only 130 miles from Los An­ge­les. “What we see to­day—the sheer vast­ness of build­ing-free vis­tas in ev­ery di­rec­tion—is ex­actly what the Span­ish set­tlers saw,” she adds.

It’s a place proudly steeped in tra­di­tion with a spoon­ful of nos­tal­gia swirled in. Multi­gen­er­a­tional fam­i­lies who re­turn year af­ter year tend to book the same cot­tage for the same week. Guests still “dress up for din­ner” in the Ranch Room—men must wear jack­ets—an un­com­mon, charm­ing rit­ual for a dude ranch. At the Satur­day night hoe­downs, a four-piece band croons 1950s coun­try-western tunes by Hank Wil­liams, Sr., and his con­tem­po­raries. And while the re­sort re­cently brought in a new chef, An­thony Endy, his mis­sion is to dou­ble down on sourc­ing lo­cal in­gre­di­ents for tra­di­tional Cal­i­for­nia cui­sine, with open-fire pre­pared fare on heavy ro­ta­tion.

PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY Vic­to­ria Pear­son

De­signer Nathan Turner with Cortez, a quar­ter horse. RIGHT: Clas­sic wran­gler gear—an em­bossed leather Western sad­dle, fringed suede chaps, and beaded reins passed down through gen­er­a­tions

“It’s as old as Cal­i­for­nia gets,” says Turner, of The Alisal’s painterly land­scape filled with wild yel­low mus­tard grasses and lichen-strewn white oak trees. The Alisal has more than 100 horses for trail rides. A sep­a­rate herd is used for roundups of its 1,600 cat­tle.

VIC­TO­RIAN AN­TIQUES A col­lec­tion of pressed­back chairs from nearby an­tiques stores out­fits the nar­row ta­ble. “These chairs feel very Western to me, but tech­ni­cally they’re Vic­to­rian,” says Turner. “All the gold rush towns are filled with Vic­to­rian fur­ni­ture. Be­cause they’re gen­er­ally the same size, you can mix and match them.”

Act­ing head wran­gler Meghan Tay­lor with Percy, Cortez, and Ajax

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