At Split Rock Ranch, a contemporary California architect gets his family off the grid.
The meaning of simplicity varies depending on who you ask: free from vanity; free from ostentation or display; of humble origin or modest position. At Split Rock Ranch, architect Grant Kirkpatrick’s 30-acre property outside Paso Robles, California, simplicity is everything.
“Ranches are always simple,” says Kirkpatrick, the founder of KAA Design. “They’re always based on the most simple economic and durable way to create shelter — the iconic barn form, the lean-to, whatever you can gather on the land and create shelter. We do try to carry that legacy forward, that there’s a really deep American iconic connection to the barn, to the ranch, to the land, and the simple life. ... [Simplicity] is the very essence of any great ranch and certainly is for Split Rock Ranch.”
KAA Design is a Los Angeles-based architecture firm that has designed homes for the likes of Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Matt Damon. Split Rock Ranch, with two 1,000-square-foot prefab cabins and its own septic tank, isn’t quite as celebrious.
Instead, nestled on the backside of Lake Nacimiento, Split Rock Ranch is about four hours north of Los Angeles and almost completely off the grid. “The only thing that we’re still hooked into right now is power,” Kirkpatrick says. That’s the next step.
For Kirkpatrick, Split Rock Ranch gives his family of five — him, wife Shaya, and their three kids — a chance to get away. “Its purpose from the beginning was a way for our family to connect with nature,” Kirkpatrick says. “Our friends love to come up there, and their kids have grown up there. You get dirty, you get wet, you do what we used to do. It’s a little bit of a contrast to the more plentiful, urban experience that we’re typically having.”
There’s also no vanity or ostentation there to distract, and time isn’t spent cleaning or worrying about a perfect, tidy house. Everything is designed for laid-back, low-key living. “It’s not about taking care of things when you get there, it’s about enjoying them,” Kirkpatrick says. “So other than sweeping off the porch, what you really want to do is use materials that age gracefully and require little to no maintenance.”
In other words, the modesty makes room for what really matters.
“When you retreat to the land, to the ranch, and you’re living in 1,000 feet, you’re living together,” Kirkpatrick says. “You’re in tight quarters. It’s all about either being together and playing games and doing fun things or you’re outside. That’s a huge advantage.”
KAA Design | Grant Kirkpatrick, Founding Partner | Learn more about Split Rock Ranch and the work of Grant Kirkpatrick in California Contemporary: The Houses of Grant C. Kirkpatrick and KAA Design, available May 1 ($55).
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Cody dining chair ($295), Adobe Interiors.Weathered windmill fan (price upon request), The Original Windmill Ceiling Fan Company. Vintage-inspired tin jug ($54), High Camp Home. Prickly pear cactus sculpture ($60), Desert Steel. Concrete-top table ($8,950), Rail Yard Studios.