A Photographer's Coastal Home In Bolinas

A Photographer's Coastal Home In Bolinas

Julie Wells

Photographer Erin Scott, a longtime Coyuchi customer and collaborator, invited us over to play dress-up at Ocean Parkway House, perched on the very tip of Bolinas Bay. Just a quick drive north from San Francisco, Bolinas, a sleepy coastal town, was once home to the Coast Miwok, who called it “Bali-N”. Today, Bolinas is known for its reclusive residents who have worked to maintain its status as a very-well-hidden gem for fishermen, writers, musicians, artists, hippies, surfers and nature-loving people looking for a peaceful coastal retreat—and that is exactly what Ocean Parkway House provides for those looking to experience all that Bolinas has to offer.

Where are we? Tell us what brought you to Bolinas!

My mom lives in Bolinas and we have always wanted to have a house close to her. My husband Paul surfs and I just happen to love everything else about Bolinas, although not a surfer myself. Bolinas is the most magical place — people truly come here and feel immediate inspiration. The land is so influential and supportive to the people who live and visit — the food scene is fantastic. From the local crab to the robust farm stands, it's pretty amazing. It’s a sleepy town so there's not much else to do but eat, sleep, and take in the nature, but this is truly the best place in the world for that. Bolinas is known as a town that wants to protect its privacy and protect nature, land, and people. Super community oriented. You can’t help connecting to nature here, literally surrounded by Mount Tamalpais, birds, and the Pacific Ocean. This town is nourishing + inspiring. 

We’d love to hear more about you.

I’m a Food + Lifestyle photographer based in Berkeley, with my inspiration always based in nature — food, herbs, people; everything about Bolinas inspires me. I’ve lived in the Bay Area since I was a teen and I’m always drawn back to West Marin for inspiration. My husband Paul is a lifelong veteran teacher and environmentalist, and a co-founder of The Field Semester in Port Costa, a school dedicated to environmental stewardship and social justice.

Shop the Look: Sonoma Textured Organic Napkins

How did Ocean Parkway House come about?

We looked at this particular house for 10 years, and always had an inkling towards it. It came on the market last year and we felt like we had to take a look. When we were touring it, I went upstairs and looked at the ocean and started crying — the views are that magical. This is a fisherman's house and had not been on the market for 40 years. It was untouched and needed love, but we didn't want to change the specialness of the house, we just wanted to bring it to life on this special cusp of land.

Everything seems so intentional — how did you pick everything out?

When I saw the house was for sale, I called Alex Urman, my close friend and an amazing designer, to come look at the property. We all drove up to Bolinas that day, and when we stepped inside, we were mesmerized by the view – which extends from Mt Tam all the way to San Francisco and beyond — the space is all about embracing the natural landscape. Paul and I joke that Alex was the doula of the space and helped encourage us by making the process digestible, fun, and manageable. Alex and I both have design backgrounds, too and totally nerded out through the process. We always made our choices intentionally and felt as if we were listening to what the house needed by tending to the space and fixing things that were long neglected. The house had been untouched for so long, but it had really great bones and we wanted to keep the weird, old, and funky. The house was itself just like Bolinas — unique, not overly fancy, about enjoying yourself, and peace.

Shop the Look: Mediterranean Collection

Who are some of your favorite Makers and Creatives that helped put this place together?

There were so many amazing people and local craftsmen who helped bring Ocean Parkway to life. To name a few:

  • Alex Urman, Interior Designer - One of my oldest and closest friends, whose flexible and dynamic approach is really adaptable to any space. As someone who loves Bolinas and has been coming here for 20 years, she really brought an appreciation for the history of the place.
  • Rusty Dobbs of GhostownWoodworks, Woodworker - This house is full of wood work that Rusty loved up. He has a deep personal connection to Bolinas and you can see that in his work. Rusty made custom beds and fixed the old redwood staircase, and put in a beautiful, handmade butcher block countertop and custom kitchen cabinets.
  • Roberts Hot Tub - Custom cedar hot tubs made in Richmond, CA.
  • Jan Broek, BROEK HARDWOOD FLOORS - a local Bolinas craftsman
  • Piecemeal Vintage - Great Oakland shop where we found dining room chairs, side tables, and other furniture that fit the midcentury aesthetic from when the house was built. I was inspired by my parents’ style in the 70s. Huge thanks to the Bolinas local craftsmans who helped put everything together.
  • Orca (Molly Sedlacek) - landscape designer (and former Coyuchi employee) helped us conceive of shaping the native landscape (still a work in progress). We love our ORCA outdoor shower rainshower.
  • Sobu - wonderful home store in Oakland where we purchased our amazing sectional sofa
  • Flowerland - a favorite shop in Albany, CA. Where we bought all of our indoor plants and pots.
  • Ceramics by Sarah KerstenHeathMMCLAYSherry OlsenClaire Mack

Sustainability is such a big part of this project — can you share some highlights?

We didn't want to do too much to the space. We used natural and local materials, working with the house and sourcing vintage materials and fixtures as much as possible, For example, the ceramic lamp next to our fireplace was made by Paul’s dad in the 60’s, and we intentionally chose an eclectic mix of styles to create a non-sterile space and feel.

How does Ocean Parkway House connect to the natural landscape?

Everything about the house is so inspired by this special sliver of the Pacific coast. I think the whole point of Bolinas is to enjoy the oceanside, and the house allows for that. The intention of the space is to be in Bolinas, to relax and be respectful of the surroundings, history, and place. We kept the original wood paneling and ceilings, the coastal blue colors, and kept it luxurious in a quiet way.

Also, Coyuchi felt like such an obvious connection for us, since it's been in PRS for over 30 years.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about this space and all it offers to those looking for a relaxing coastal getaway?

We've got so many areas for lounging and relaxing - from the large sectional in the living room, chairs on the upper balcony, large outdoor sofas... plus super comfy beds. We wanted folks to be able to come here and deeply relax. Take a hot tub while the hummingbirds zoom by. Stroll down to Agate Beach to explore the tide pools. Play games, puzzles, backgammon or cards while listening to old records. Gather with friends to cook meals and just slow down and relax.

Enjoy $100 off your booking by noting COYUCHI in Airbnb Request. Please note, discount applied at time of booking.*