Ranch Refined
Designer Nathan Turner puts a luxe spin on Solvang's Alisal Ranch

By Jennifer Blaise Kramer

Set between farmlands and vineyards 30 miles north of Santa Barbara, Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort has been a longtime getaway for Southern California families and stars. Doris Day and Clark Gable (who married Lady Silvia inside the resort's old library) are among the stars who've flocked to this 10,000-acre luxury dude ranch over the past 75 years to ride horses, hike, fly fish, and sit around the campfire at famed Western-style cookouts. So, when it came time turn the ranch experience up a notch, Alisal looked to yet another star—interior designer, author, and Native Californian Nathan Turner—to raise the bar.

Turner, who recently penned the lifestyle book, I Love California: Design and Entertaining the West Coast Way (Abrams, $40), truly put his heart into designing the Turner House, a three-room guest cottage that's full of vintage furnishings, handcrafted furniture, and iconic Western prints. Having grown up on a ranch in Northern California, Turner was inspired by the property's authentic feel and nostalgic history.

"It was so important to me to honor the legacy of Alisal," Turner says. "Coming from a California cattle family myself, I know and understand the lifestyle. I wanted my rooms to feel as of they’ve always been there, collected over time."

Balancing rustic and chic, Turner took design cues from the resort’s California-Monterey style. He filled the house with mixed materials that work with the property's age and patina, including reclaimed barnwood paneling, river rock stone, and classic ironwork, while creating an independent, elevated, and standalone experience. "It's unique in the way that it really is a one-off, filled with rich Ralph Lauren fabrics, vintage tables, and antique furniture and rugs," he says, adding that he didn’t stray too far from the "ranch path," but layered the cottage more than the other rooms on property to make it feel comfortable, collected, and personal. "It feels as if you’re staying at someone's ranch house."

Retreat on the Range

This fall Nathan Turner is holding a three-day "I Love California" workshop (October 23-25, $1,800 and up) at Alisal Ranch & Resort. Guests get to experience the Turner House during the three-day event that includes activities including with the host, such as table décor, margarita and guacamole making, breakfast horseback rides, and elevated s'mores under the stars.