Sea Ranch-Esque Compound Comes With Its Own Funicular

A hillside wooden house at dusk. Photos
by Open Homes Photography

The hillside home offersmid-century vibes with a postmodern

Location: Alamo, California
Year built: 1981
Architect: John Nance
Specs: 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2,729 square feet,
2.51 acres
Price: $3,295,000, includes two

When native Californians Joan and John Jamieson set out to build
a house near a wilderness preserve just 29 miles east of San
Francisco, they were inspired by
Sea Ranch
, the famed mid-century planned community on the
Sonoma coast known for its sloped-roof wooden homes. Although the
Jamiesons’ architect, John Nance, designed mostly commercial
projects, he won them over with
one of his few residential projects
, which featured a shed roof
similar to Sea Ranch’s
Binker Barn

The couple wanted the house to blend into the hillside site as
much as possible and for nearly every room to have a mountain view.
So instead of building on the ground level, they chose to sit the
house atop 35 eight-foot piers, which are drilled deep into the
ground and are connected by grade beams. This building method,
which does not require excavating the land, also helps to reduce
the environmental impact of construction as it does not contribute
to erosion. In lieu of a concrete driveway that would have covered
the hill, they opted to put in five flights of stairs, concealed
within a ramrod-straight, shingled structure that matches the

The interior combines elements of mid-century-modern charm —
like exposed beams and floor-to-ceiling windows — with an
over-the-shoulder wink to ’80s postmodern whimsy (think geometric
cutouts in the walls, colorful exposed ducting, and sunken beds).
The property, notably, also comes with a funicular for stair-free
access, plus a detached garage, barn, pool, and horseshoe pit.

“[John] passed away last year, and the house isn’t the same
without him,†says Joan Jamieson. Their home is now on the market
for the first time in its 40-year existence.

A front door with two circular cutout windows.The
front door, accessible via the funicular or five flights of stairs,
leans into the geometric theme.A black fireplace in the center of a white room with reddish tile and white carpeting.Exposed
ducts painted red, yellow, and green can be seen throughout the
home. As Jamieson recalls, Nance said, “‘Why hide it? Let’s
make it part of the décor.’â€Open living are with a white sectional couch and glass walls.Glass
walls in the living room offer a view of the hillside and
beyond.A kitchen with a wood paneled ceiling, a kitchen island with three white circular stools, and glossy black cabinets and drawers.The
kitchen is all glossy black, tile, and wood. A tree-studded scene can be seen outside the windows of this dining room with glass table, square light fixture, and red chairs.The
glass-enclosed dining room has expansive mountain views. A white wall with a keyhole-shaped doorway that leads to another room. A staircase sits to the left.A
keyhole cutout puts a playful twist on archways. Don’t miss the
rock garden under the staircase.A white bedroom with a bed bounded on all sides by a carpeted border, giving it a sunken look. There’s a black cast iron fireplace and lots of windows here too.Nance
originally designed the home’s sunken beds as waterbeds, but they
were soon changed to normal beds, as the awkward aquatic sleeping
trend of the late-1970s didn’t float with the Jamiesons.A shower with massive picture windows and beige tiling.Dare
to go bare inside this airy tiled shower that looks onto the
hillside.Room with curved wall covered in shingles. There“The
Moose Room†features a curved wall of shingles similar to the
ones found on the façade. It’s where the grandchildren stayed
when they visited. An open and airy room painted all white, with a staircase nearby, red-painted duct pipe and a circular cutout.On
the top floor, a circular cutout comes with a lidlike
contraption.An outdoor deck, with siding of glass and wood beams, next to a large oak tree.This
appendagelike outdoor deck was originally designed as a diving
board into a pool. “[That] didn’t work out, so we decided to
leave it because it used to go right out to a beautiful oak tree
that we lost several years ago,†says Jamieson. Two protruding
walkways nearby pull double duty as lookout points and escape
routes in case of fire. And the pool, which features a waterfall
and boulders from nearby wine-country mecca Healdsburg, can now be
found at the foot of the home.A steel and glass tram with a cover sits at the bottom of its terminus, with two steel cables supporting it on its side.“We
always thought we wanted to put [a funicular] in and had provisions
made to remove an exterior wall to provide a landing when the house
was built,†says Jamieson. “We continued to use the five
flights of stairs for 30 years until we had some health issues.â€
The couple found a tram builder in Washington State, where it was
built and hauled down in a trailer. “After we installed it, we
never used the stairs anymore. It is absolutely wonderful.
Maintenance free and holds up to 700 pounds.â€

Source: FS – All – Architecture 10
Sea Ranch-Esque Compound Comes With Its Own