A Gorgeous, Off-Grid Guesthouse Perches Lightly on a California Ranch
On an undulating stretch of California coastline, a hidden guesthouse runs free of the grid.
As they approach, visitors to Steve and Margaret Cegelski’s new guesthouse north of Santa Barbara might be momentarily confused. Their quarters are hidden from sight, tucked under the lip of a hill, with a green roof as camouflage. It’s not until they descend a concrete staircase dividing a sunken two-volume structure that they see their accommodations, not to mention the spectacular view of the coastline straight ahead.
An intimate connection to the environment suffuses every aspect of this singular retreat, set amid a wildlife preserve and working cattle ranch defined by majestic bluffs, oak trees, and chaparral-blanketed slopes. “Imagine California a hundred years ago,” says project architect Dan Weber of Santa Barbara–based firm Anacapa.
The guesthouse sits about 300 yards from the Cegelskis’ Craftsman-style home, which existed on the property when the couple moved there in 2009. They started the guesthouse project shortly after, in order to have a separate space for hosting family and friends. Land use and access in the area is a contentious issue, and concern about increasing limits on construction led the couple to build sooner rather than wait. The design includes a detached garage, which is similarly buried in the earth.