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The getaway that grows; Developed as an experiment at our headquarters, the Sunset Summer Retreat is a vacation home turned inside out and built in stages: start with a compact kitchen/bathhouse, and add tent bedrooms and storage as needed. Breezy, coastal-inspired decor lets nature steal the show.

Adults' tent

With privacy and acoustics in mind, the bedroom for Mom and Dad is located at the opposite end of a broad deck from the kids' sleeping quarters, facing an outdoor living area and firepit. This 12- by 14-foot tent and the two others shown here are sold as kits with pieces of framing wood, tent shell, rain fly, windows, and doors; each takes about one day for two people to assemble.

GREEN TIP Because of their simple framework, the tents use much less wood than a traditionally framed room attached to a house.

Daybed pavilion

Tucked into a quiet corner near the master bedroom, this 6 1/2-square-foot platform daybed has a thick mattress, a peaked roof of acrylic outdoor fabric, and loads of pillows for afternoon lolling.

GREEN TIP The frame is made of bangkirai, a sustainably harvested Indonesian ironwood.


The lofty, shed-roofed core of the Sunset Summer Retreat is a 15- by 20-foot structure that combines a kitchen and bathroom--the two rooms that require electricity and plumbing. Furniture from the tents can be moved into the unit and locked for storage when the owners are away.

GREEN TIPS The exterior is covered in wood-textured, fiber-cement siding in a board-and-batten style. A retractable, remote-controlled awning shades the kitchen's metal-clad doors. The standing-seam metal roof is coated with infrared-reflecting paint that reduces heat gain by more than 45 percent. Near the roof peak, a minimal array of photovoltaic panels is sized to produce just under a kilowatt of power per hour (enough energy to power a 50-watt light-bulb for 20 hours).


Made of wood grain--embossed composite wood, the 2,500-square-foot deck includes perimeter bench seats that reduce the need for deck furniture and double as a safety railing.


Blurring the lines between nature and home, containers and planters of grasses, succulents, and small palms on and around the deck add to the laid-back, low-maintenance aesthetic.

Storage tent

To keep the sleeping units uncluttered, this tent serves as a space to temporarily store kitchen supplies, clothing, surfboards, and other items. The tents are sturdy enough to be left up year-round in many climates, and the shell will last 12 to 15 years (annual rinsing with a hose is recommended). They can even support a few inches of snow.


GREEN TIP To reduce heat buildup and reflect sunlight, a rain fly made of white polyester vinyl shades each tent.

Kids' tent

Big enough for a pair of trundle beds, this tent also has room for a couple of beanbag seats, storage trunks, and bedside tables. As in the other tents, the floor is covered with inexpensive and easy-to-install sea grass matting. An even simpler solution would be to eliminate the beds and install a wrestling mat, which turns the entire floor into a comfortable surface for multiple sleeping bags.

Grill center

Within easy reach of the outdoor dining area is a generous grill with side burners and plenty of storage. A custom prefabricated counter is made with a travertine tile top, which blends with light-toned stucco sides.

Sandy palette

The beach-inspired look starts with a crisp white background and adds layers of natural materials and textures.






Kitchen interior

High ceilings, white walls, and open shelving make the kitchen seem larger than its 15- by 15-foot area. The expansive island doubles as prep surface and informal breakfast table (the bottom is left open for an airier feel). Straw basket pendant lamps, woven baskets for storage, colorful pottery, and single-leaf arrangements from the yard add visual interest. "It's a modern, natural look with a splash of playfulness," says Susan Delurgio, who decorated the Sunset Summer Retreat with Alisha Peterson. "We started with a creamy white color palette and brought in the hues of the ocean."


GREEN TIP Reclaimed-barn-wood floors and bamboo countertops are eco-friendly choices for kitchen surfaces.

Bathhouse interior

Above a small pedestal sink, a mirror framed with wood salvaged from a boat serves as the whimsical "anchor" for this narrow bathroom, which is less than 5 feet wide. Eliminating a shower door and raising the ceiling to 13 feet keeps the space from feeling cramped. White plaster walls and a pebble tile floor bring in the feel of the beach.

GREEN TIP The shower surround is plaster (with stone sealer for waterproofing) that inhibits mildew and allows walls to breathe.

Storage tent interior

Warm wood and woven grass textures make this room more inviting than your standard walk-in closet. Freestanding open shelves provide ample room for kitchen and beach supplies, clothing, and recreational equipment while making the small space feel less congested; baskets organize clutter and store small items. On the far wall, sea grass--covered cork creates a handy activity board for notes, photos, and tide schedules.



Reclaimed-teak side tables, shelves, and storage benches are stylish environmental choices. The sea grass matting can be cut and laid to fit, then fixed in place with an industrial staple gun, eliminating the need for conventional formaldehyde-based glues.

Adults' tent interior

In the master bedroom, a blue vintage trunk (for bedding and blankets) at the foot of the bed establishes the seaside theme, which is reinforced by indigo hand-blocked pillows and bedding. Teak bedside tables and an oak headboard complement the tent cabin's exposed wood frame. The key to decorating a small bedroom: Keep it simple and streamlined, with light colors and low-key accessories.

The interior designers

Susan Delurgio and Alisha Peterson own Beach House Style, an interior design studio and store in Fairfax, California. "Our style is all about casual, comfortable living and a happy-go-lucky environment," Delurgio says. Their advice: Start with a clean, serene backdrop; include natural surfaces and furnishings; add color with accessories; repurpose items in unexpected ways (e.g., dishtowels as covers for pillows); don't be afraid to be playful.


INFO Susan Delurgio and Alisha Peterson, Beach House Style, Fairfax, CA ( or 415/454-3138)

Deck-top style


The 18-foot-long, U-shaped barbecue center includes open shelves for display and closed compartments with stainless steel doors--a striped runner helps define the workspace; the elevated daybed set into one corner of the deck makes a dreamy space to curl up with a summertime read; wash off the saltwater with a freestanding shower (hooked up to a hose) in front of an outdoor fabric curtain and fence; a remote-controlled cantilevered awning extends above the kitchen doors near containers of sculptural, drought-tolerant plants in galvanized pots.








Concept and building design Peter O. Whiteley, Sunset,

Builder SunBright Construction, 408/395-7315

Interior design/styling Beach House Style, 415/454-3138


ASC Building Products or 916/372-0933

Benjamin Moore Paints

Crate and Barrel

James Hardie Building Products



Metal Roofing Alliance

Milgard Windows & Doors

Trex Company


Beach House Style 415/454-3138

Black's Farmwood

European Rolling Shutters 800/794-3740

Fireclay Tile 408/275-1182

Fitzgerald Studio

Flora Grubb Gardens

Living Green

Simpson Co. Painting Contractors

Succulent Gardens Carmel

Sweetwater Bungalows

The Sweetwater Cabana

Teragren Fine Bamboo Flooring, Panels & Veneer 800/929-6333 Treasure Islands of Santa Cruz


The Wooden Duck 415/453-0345

INFO For more contributors and resources, see page 126.
COPYRIGHT 2007 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Whiteley, Peter O.; Chamberlain, Jess
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2007
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