Shoe-box Modernism in Inverness, CA

A surfer and an equestrian settle down near the Pacific

Homeowners Adam Neale and Megan Feitas have built a quaint ranch home that splits the difference between shoe-box modernism and the Arts and Crafts tradition. Marrying the couples’ pared-back, conservationist aesthetic with their lifelong love of the outdoors, the custom-built home was constructed according to a carefully planned eco-conscious blueprint, devised by the architect, Gustave Carlson.

The specific Northern California location has special significance for the happily married pair. In addition to being a former kayak and snowboard instructor, Adam has a deep love of surfing and the home’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean and Tomales Bay proved too tempting to pass up. His wife, meanwhile, is an avid horseback rider and used to frequent the trails around the property in her younger years. Recently she took Neale to see some of the sites she recalls from her childhood.

At the time Neale and Feitas purchased the three-acre plot, it was littered with detritus left by the previous owner. In acquiring the property, they assumed the role of model caretakers, taking it upon themselves to clear the land of debris.

Gustave Carlson Architect | Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's MR Chairs in Inverness, CA

Photograph by Paul Dyer.

Carlson proved instrumental in helping them conceive of a design that was at once eco-friendly and appropriately adapted for the fire-prone region. For one, the walls—which combine stucco and concrete—are filled with fly ash, an insulation material and by-product of the region’s coal plants. The roof is clad in fire-resistant sheet metal. Adam, a carpenter and woodworking instructor at the Waldorf school, was actively involved in design process and had his hand in sourcing the assortment of cedar, teak, and Douglas-fir detailing for the home. The recycled teak planks, for instance, hearken back to the 1950s—when the popularity of the tonal wood was at its height—and proudly display old nail holes and other signs of discoloration. Exposed rafters contribute the barnyard aesthetic while simultaneously calling to mind the architectural underbelly of a ship.

The home is filled with inherited, well-worn Modernist furnishings, which include Mies van der Rohe’s MR Lounge Chairs, situated in the living room, and Bertoia’s Large Diamond Chairs in the couples’ bedroom. According to Carlson, pulling the furniture away from the perimeter of each room “allows the heirloom furniture to float away from the walls so that the architecture creates a backdrop to appreciate the craftsmanship and the detail of the Knoll pieces."

Gustave Carlson Architect | Harry Bertoia's Diamond Chair in Inverness, CA

Photograph by Paul Dyer.

Project Credits:

Design: Gustave Carlson
Photography: Paul Dyer


Bertoia Large Diamond Chair
Bertoia Diamond Chair
MR Lounge Chair