So, I Guess We Are Going To Build A House; The Story of Main Sail

So, we closed on a piece of land sitting just beside the ocean in The Sea Ranch. I have wanted a second home for some time now and have dragged my husband and grown daughters to many a place to look and see if I can find just the right spot.

We took a long ride up the coast to Gold Beach in Oregon, a drive around the lake in Lake County, a weekend trip to Sonora and surrounding areas, and about 100 road trips up to Lake Tahoe. Too far away, too wet and cold, too hot, too much traffic…. I was beginning to feel like Goldilocks. We just weren’t able to find anything that we liked that met all our criteria.

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Looking back at the lot on Main Sail

That is, until we spent about a month exploring The Sea Ranch and the explored the idea of building a get-away home.  I don’t know why it didn’t make the first couple of rounds. But, I am really glad that it made it to our last.

On our first trip up, we drove around and looked at about fifteen lots that we had narrowed down on-line via real estate sites. We got out to look around at a few, but did the perfunctory “drive-by” on many. We pretty quickly figured out that we wanted to be on the water side of The Sea Ranch and Highway 1. We learned that the North end of The Sea Ranch has tunnels that go underneath the Highway, so you don’t have to cross with traffic. We have spent some time at rentals and at the Lodge over the years but that was a bit of information that we were not aware of. Used for golf carts mostly and home to many a swallow…

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About three weeks in, we narrowed our sights on a larger lot with a bit of a water view. So we wrote an offer and got it submitted. We heard land was not really moving and really expected it to be lightly countered, at what our Realtor told us was the value. Well, that was not the case. They came back at nearly full price, which seemed high and was more than we wanted to spend. We were a bit crest fallen, as we had driven past all the lots available on sewer and felt like we had possibly seen all the good options.

We went back up the following weekend and spent another day going back over the ocean side lots with our realtor, this time walking each one. We had driven by the lot on Main Sail in our last round of searching but this time we parked, got out, and headed to the back of the lot which looked out over the 8th tee.

The back of the lot was what I would call magical, which makes my family laugh at me, but is true. There is a grove of cypress, trimmed to art with a lovely little view of the Pacific Ocean. The back of the property drops to a path that leads directly to the ocean below. It is perfect for us and it feels like it was sitting there shrouded in secrecy waiting for us to walk its dirt. I love it. I can picture the house and what we will build one day. I can see the memories made with our little growing family. And, I can be patient, but I also cannot wait.

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So, here I find myself heading into fall in the position of “client.” Working with a local architect to design and place the house. Navigating the bumpy process of The Sea Ranch Design Review Committee and neighbors input on our home. Working on material specifications that speak to both my aesthetic and budget. I am reminded that it is a process and one that I do not control the speed or sometimes the ultimate outcome of. Both things, that for me, are challenging and frustrating.

It is interesting to be in the position of so many of my clients and it reminds me of how they feel. It can be both exciting and challenging, nice to have the opportunity for that reminder.


Tama Bell is the lead Interior Designer at Tama Bell Design, an interior design firm with many interior design and space planning projects in Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, Petaluma and throughout Sonoma County.