The newly rebuilt lobby with interiors by Salt + Bones, including a Ridge table and a Drift mirror by Fernando Mastrangelo, a custom artwork installation by Christina Watka, a freehand mural by Sausalito artist Marta Johnson and custom light fixtures from Apparatus studio.
A few things to keep in mind when redesigning a beloved seaside auberge: The nautical trend is unavoidable. The nautical trend is overdone. The nautical trend is so much more than a decorative assortment of anchor-shaped paperweights, faded signal flags and vintage barometers.
“The water is right there—like, right there. How could you not draw inspiration from it?” asks Carissa Duncan, principal of Carmel-based design studio Salt + Bones, which recently completed a 2 ½-year redesign of Sausalito’s historic Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa. “We didn’t want the hotel to feel overly nautical. We thought we’d leave that up to Richardson Bay.” Instead, the designer relied on her intuitive sense of place, approaching the town’s life aquatic from a subtler, more elemental perspective.
Favorite treatments at The Spa at Casa include the Vitamin Sea Brightening Facial and the Casa Madrona Signature Mindfulness Massage (both $190 to $230).
Duncan’s reimagining of the lobby—a “thesis statement,” as she calls it, for the new more cohesive style that unfolds on the sprawling property, which comprises an 1885 Victorian mansion, a contemporary wing refreshed with artwork and furniture, and courtyard spaces updated with fountains and fire pits—is a refined respite of sand and fog, water and sky. The centerpiece is a wall installation of quartzite and marble in various blues and whites to reflect the bay, with a layered composition that could suggest the iconic Breton stripe. Other of-the-terrain works include a freehand ink mural by Sausalito artist Marta Johansen, who spent 100 hours and drained 400 micron pens to evoke, with undulating movement, the hilly topography of Sausalito.
A low-profile table of striated gray-and-white rock-salt crystals by Brooklyn’s Fernando Mastrangelo appears to be a raw chunk of excised earth, but, in reality, it’s a masterfully composed sculpture topped with cerulean-hued cement, recalling the briny deep. A mirror by the same artist features a swipe of hardened sand that conjures the barefoot texture of the beach, but not necessarily the frolic.
A harbor view room on the contemporary side of Casa Madrona.
Not that Casa Madrona is a revelry-free zone, but passing through the hotel’s original teak-lined barrel entrance—perhaps you’re returning from the lively locals bar next door at Poggio restaurant, having polished off a deep bowl of silky lobster-roe capellini and a generous pour of 2017 Vaughn Duffy rosé—brings instant relaxation. Maybe it’s the cathedral-like quiet or the sumptuous materials or the design’s easy sophistication—an anomaly for this touristy stretch of Bridgeway, lined with shops selling glassware, tea towels and Christmas decorations year-round. “The hotel has become an elegant expression of the sea,” says Duncan, who also unified Casa Madrona’s exterior, formerly a disjointed taupe and blue, with an oceanic palette. “No anchors required.” Harbor rooms $300-$400 per night, hillside suites $600-$800 per night, 801 Bridgeway, Sausalito
Originally published in the June issue of San Francisco
Photography by: Photos by Laure Joliet