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By Christy Nielson | Images By Paul Schraub
This grand, Tahoe-style home is perched on a scenic hilltop overlooking the 80-acre Devine Ranch near Santa Cruz on the stunning central California coast. The ranch is an equestrian lover’s dream, complete with an elegant eight-stall barn, riding arena, covered round pen, two service buildings, and 30 acres of pastures.
Brought to life by award-winning architect John Blackburn, AIA, the spacious 7,000-square-foot timber frame home, built with structural insulated panels (SIPs) for efficiency, features refined rustic elements borrowed from the beautiful barn that Blackburn designed before the owner decided to build a residence on the property. “We used the same stone, siding and trim on the house, so the barn was sort of a test,” explains Blackburn. “We were able to try out different things to see what the owner wanted.”
With huge windows, skylights and numerous outdoor spaces including a generous outdoor kitchen and loggia with an impressive stone fireplace—one of three at the home—the design responds to the site’s temperate California climate, ocean breezes, and picturesque overlooks. A series of gabled roofs, evocative of mountain peaks, shelter the large, open spaces and soaring cathedral ceilings inside the home. Organic materials–aged European oak flooring, heavy cedar timbers, stately wainscoting, classic copper gutters, substantial Montana fieldstone, and locally sourced multi-hued flagstone–ground the home and convey a sense of belonging as it stands proudly above the ranch.
The owners’ Southwest sensibilities merge with rustic refinement to create a beautiful and luxurious, yet simple, come-as-you-are feel. Red antique Navajo rugs provide pops of color that harmonize beautifully with the natural elements, while fur cushions, rawhide shades, and branch-based barstools offer layers of textural interest that remain true to the natural palette. The owners’ sophisticated collection of Native American art and artifacts, including pottery, dream catchers and woven baskets, add tribal touches throughout the home.
The dwelling is as functional as it is fabulous. The striking stone fireplace in the living room, for instance, has a nook for storing wood with a doorway at the back so logs can be loaded from outside. The chef’s kitchen has a huge hidden butler’s pantry along the entire length of the back wall where small appliances and a juicing station are housed. Hanging baskets are built under the stairwell to conveniently store cooking staples like onions and potatoes.
The windows in the living room extend all the way to the floor and can be opened from the top or the bottom for ventilation and connection to the wrap-around porch outside. In addition to the natural light that streams through the windows and skylights, the living room is illuminated by hefty, circular chandeliers that cast light in both directions to showcase the details of the wood ceiling while also brightening the living space below.
Oversized leather furniture and custom cabinetry, including a 12-and-a-half-foot armoire in the living room, stand up to the scale of the spaces. The architectural details on the windows, which are framed by beams and free of muntins at eye-level for unobstructed views, help define living areas in the open-concept home. “The windows have a lot of design to them, and because the house has such nice volume, you could use a complex design without it feeling too busy,” explains interior designer Gaye Ferrara. The indoor-outdoor living features that are quintessentially Californian are another approachable aspect of the design. “There are a lot of spaces where you can go outside and hang out and not be overcome by the size of the house,” Ferrara notes. “It was designed to be intimate and beautiful, even though it has a lot of square footage.”
Blackburn Architects, P.C.