Location

Marin County, California

Year

2023

Photographer

Bruce Damonte

A compact cabin built on a steep slope covered in thick vegetation and majestic trees.

Situated on a steep hillside in Marin County, California, Crest Guesthouse is a brilliant example of compact living that maximizes comfort, space and function. Completed by award-winning architecture firm Mork-Ulnes Architects, a studio with offices in San Francisco and Oslo, the cabin has a contemporary design that reflects not only the site’s topographic features, but also its distinctive challenges. Located approximately 30 miles north of San Francisco, the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) currently serves as the client’s vacation house while their main residence is renovated, but in the future will be used as a guesthouse and rental unit.

Crest Guesthouse in Marin County, California - Gessato

To build the 411-square-foot / 38-square-meter cabin, the architects used the footprint and foundation of an old garage. Inspired by the terrain, the roof has a distinctly angled roof, a feature that also allowed the team to insert a clerestory window on top of the kitchen cabinets. Above, another opening brings light into the loft area and frames the surrounding trees. In order to protect the structure from wildfires, the studio used cement board for both the exterior walls and the roof. Additionally, this material is low-maintenance and durable. In front of the guesthouse, a deck creates a tranquil outdoor area while extending the living spaces.

Inside, the studio used a series of clever design features to make the most of the limited footprint. Flexible elements also allow the residents to adapt the cabin to different needs. For example, the kitchen island is mobile, providing an easy way to free up more space when needed. A murphy bed folds up into the wall during the day. Sliding glass doors connect this area to the deck. A ladder that tucks away into one wall offers access to the loft. In the bathroom, the architects created two areas: one with a toilet and sink, and the other with a shower room covered in green tiles. Here, a glass door opens to the hillside. Throughout the interior, Douglas fir plywood paneling adds warmth and beautiful texture to the simple decor. Photography by Bruce Damonte.

Crest Guesthouse in Marin County, California - Gessato

Crest Guesthouse in Marin County, California - Gessato

Crest Guesthouse in Marin County, California - Gessato

Crest Guesthouse in Marin County, California - Gessato

Crest Guesthouse in Marin County, California - Gessato

Crest Guesthouse in Marin County, California - Gessato

Crest Guesthouse in Marin County, California - Gessato

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