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.

Steve and Margaret Cegelski, a retired couple who invented a popular tire sealant, welcome guests to their Santa Barbara County home nearly every weekend for hiking, surfing, and horseback riding. Overnight visitors stay in the new guesthouse designed by Dan Weber of Anacapa Architecture and Steve Willson of Willson Design; the builder was Curtis Homes. A green roof helps the structure disappear into the site high above the Pacific.

Steve and Margaret Cegelski, a retired couple who invented a popular tire sealant, welcome guests to their Santa Barbara County home nearly every weekend for hiking, surfing, and horseback riding. Overnight visitors stay in the new guesthouse designed by Dan Weber of Anacapa Architecture and Steve Willson of Willson Design; the builder was Curtis Homes. A green roof helps the structure disappear into the site high above the Pacific. “We wanted to capture the quality of the setting, but with minimal impact on the land,” says Weber. 

Photo: Erin Feinblatt

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.

Margaret worked with interior designer Jessica Helgerson on the space planning of the rooms, interior finish materials, fireplace, plumbing fixtures, appliances, lighting, and the furnishing of the guesthouse. The living area features a Le Bombole ’07 sofa by Mario Bellini for B&B Italia, a Chieftan chair by Finn Juhl, and a rotating hanging stove by FireOrb. The poufs are by Tazi Designs.

Margaret worked with interior designer Jessica Helgerson on the planning of the rooms, interior finish materials, fixtures, lighting, and furnishings for the guesthouse. 

Photo: Aaron Leitz

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.

Handmade leather Fernando chairs by Jayson Home surround a live-edge custom walnut table in the dining area.

Handmade leather Fernando chairs by Jayson Home surround a live-edge custom walnut table in the dining area. 

Photo: Erin Feinblatt

See the full story on Dwell.com: A Gorgeous, Off-Grid Guesthouse Perches Lightly on a California Ranch

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