The Little House with Big Views
Once owned by modern architect Philip Johnson, this one-bedroom, 1930s cottage tucks seamlessly into its woodsy setting. The roaring ocean is audible from its decks, garden, and rooms, which open to the outdoors. On clear days, these same spots capture vistas—30 miles south down the coast, northwest to the sunset, and east to the mountains—where, at night, the moon rises through the oaks.
A Fresh Look
The new owners were drawn to the cottage's cozy warmth and wanted to celebrate its woodsy ocean and mountain views, but they preferred a more modern approach. So they enlisted Mary Ann to restore the cottage in a manner that reflected their tastes but also honored the place and its past. Out went view-blocking blinds and dark wall colors. Much of the Monterey pine flooring stayed bare, and Mary Ann swapped a bamboo kitchen ceiling for pine to match others throughout the house.
Now: With its stunning views, restored flooring and trellis, and easy access to the kitchen via French doors, the shaded deck is ideal for alfresco meals.
Modern Sitting Room
Now: Mary Ann selected more modern pieces. She pulled the warm palette—cream and chocolate with pops of orange and green—from the house's natural surroundings.
Throughout the house, fresh details mimic the old. The decrepit window frames, for example, were replaced with similar redwood ones, and new fir kitchen cabinets received the same clear, natural finish as the originals. "We worked almost surgically," says Mary Ann, "as if the whole house were a piece of furniture we were restoring."
Living Room with a View
Now: Mary Ann chose an area rug and Roman shades that can be hiked all the way up to let the room's best features—original end-grain Monterey pine floors and windows framed by native oaks—shine.
Now: To create a comfortable resting spot, Mary Ann used super-soft textures such as the silk-lined linen coverlet on the bed and a silk rug.
About the House
Space: 1,600 square feet, with one bedroom, one bath, a bright, open kitchen and living room, and ocean-view decks.
Setting: Historic Big Sur, off scenic Highway 1 between Monterey and San Simeon.
View: From its wooded, 1-acre ridge, the house overlooks the open sea, north and south coasts, and Santa Lucia Mountains.