Excerpts from Northern California Home Garden Magazine:
Classic Revival Circa 1990
Dianne McKenzie isn’t the kind of person who does anything by halves. So when the talented artist purchased a fan-shaped lot at The Sea Ranch 500 feet from the ocean bluff, she knew instinctively that the house she built on it would have to be exceptional. It had to be sensitive to the landscape, yet be a work of art that went beyond the basic functions of a normal house. – Home Garden Magazine
Although petite, McKenzie thinks big-her highly prized custom tapestries average 9-by-12 feet- and she sculpts impressive works in concrete, stainless steel and other industrial materials. She also designs furniture in collaboration with her partner in Comet Studios, John Halley.
The couple are launching a new line of tables, chairs and clocks at an art exhibit in Tokyo later this year. And if that’s not enough to satisfy McKenzie’s artistic energy, she operates a business specializing in custom faux finishes.
So McKenzie teamed up with Berkeley architect Donlyn Lyndon (former partner in MLTW, author of “The Place of Houses”) and together they designed a remarkable house that has garnished architectural awards from the San Francisco chapter of the American Institute of Architects, Metropolitan Home Magazine and the American Wood Council.
The McKenzie Compound is a post-and-beam structure built around a central courtyard. It comprises a 1,247-square-foot main residence with a 1,669-square-foot detached studio. Both buildings have pitched shed roofs to deflect the wind, redwood siding and free-flowing floor plans with mezzanine loft spaces. The main house overlooks untamed meadows and has spectacular views of the ocean from the living room and bedroom. It’s the kind of house that takes your breath away the moment you step inside, a cleverly designed structure that relates kindly to the coastal meadow while simultaneously making an impressive impact.
Lyndon and McKenzie’s collaborative efforts are innovative and effective, skillfully blending industrial materials with the sturdy timbers that characterize much of The Sea Ranch.
The McKenzie Compound embodies the sophistication and technology of the 90’s. Living areas in the main residence feature exposed copper piping used for sculpture and functional effects, slate pavers from India, concrete countertops, industrial lighting, commercial stainless steel sinks and metal shelving rather than standard kitchen cabinetry. The industrial theme continues upstairs with the use of galvanized wire impact panels and vinyl flooring that simulates a diamond-plate steel pattern. “There’s an honesty and straightforwardness in industrial materials,” contends McKenzie. “They don’t lie to you and there is no pretension.”
“Architecture is really the ultimate artistic process,” McKenzie contends. “It’s the biggest, most significant art form there is; it’s not just something that you hang on the wall or place on a table. It becomes a backdrop for your life.”
written by Ann Bertelsen
photographed by Alan Weintraub
July 1992 Northern California Home & Garden