Idiosyncratic, Open Designs, Echoing Ships & Wharfs


Architect Carson Bowler designed both buildings from 1966 to 1999 in Jenner to form a single residence. The residence is now known as "The Blue Lotus" by it's current owners Francesca Scalpi and Lotus Fong.

Carson designed numerous houses at The Sea Ranch and Bodega Harbour (including the Restaurant-Clubhouse). He was on The Sea Ranch Design Review Board for over 20 years. His prolific work over a 50-year career included both residential and commercial projects throughout Sonoma and Marin Counties, and other parts of the state. His commercial building in Bodega Bay, including the Lucas Wharf Restaurant, The Inn at the Tides, Pelican Plaza, and The Yacht Harbor Clubhouse. He also designed Bodega Bay's post office, which is nestled into a hill below Highway 1, designed not to block the view from the iconic road. He went so far as to add a sod roof, making it difficult for passing motorists to tell that there is even a building there.

He was known for big open main rooms; few interior walls; small, galley-like kitchens; windows that recall those on a ship's bridge; exposed pilings and posts like a dock; and bare redwood, inside and out, create an effect that echoes the ships and wharves of his beloved Sonoma Coast. He favored idiosyncratic, open designs, to the point of creating master bedrooms that had no walls at all and were wide open to the rest of the house. Yet he favored small kitchens that tended to be tucked away.

"He was always thinking about the coastal environment, about how a building would fit there," said longtime friend Doug Murray, a Sebastopol-based architect.

His buildings "were like pieces of sculpture that someone would do in that spot if it were not a house," Murray said.

The Bodega Bay post office "is a good example of the kind of architect Carson was not," Murray said. "He was not a grandstanding architect."

The Main building of The Blue Lotus was designed in 1966 by Carson Bowler for a prominent doctor and his wife. The building was sited to take advantage of the Russian River and Pacific Ocean Views. The kitchen was design like a boat galley but maximizes all of its space efficiently. In the style Carson liked the windows are designed like a ships bridge. There are exposed beams and post. The living room dining room is an open concept with a upper sleeping loft open to the downstairs. The upper sleeping loft contains two twin beds with views of the floor below, river and ocean. It includes a full bath with claw foot tub tucked into the side of the angled shape building. The interior of the building is clad in redwood. The exterior is clad in cedar shingle. Right after it was built the home was featured in House Beautiful.

In 1999 architect Carson Bowler was asked to come back and design the second building for the second owners the Fish's. They purchased the adjoining lot and merged the two parcels to create a 3/4 acre parcel. The two structures would be designed with three levels of decks. The Master Bedroom building was designed with an writing desk, reading space, space for a queen bed, a vanity, two person shower room, toilet, closet and a upper meditation room. The interior is clad in cedar. The lower deck has a hot tub, area to eat outside and a grill. The Fish's transformed overgrown brush cover lot into a magnificent coastal garden.