Designer Ruthie Sommers throws a birthday fête at her family’s coastal ranch near the Santa Ynez Valley.
“It takes an hour to get to the grocery store,” says Ruthie Sommers of the 90-acre Gaviota ranch she and her husband, Luke, fell for on the coast next to the Santa Ynez Valley. “We like to pretend we’re in the Wild West.” Thirty miles north of Santa Barbara, the home was almost turnkey; Sommers, a celebrated interior designer, outfitted the casual dwelling, “man cave” barn and one-bedroom top house with chic pieces from nearby shops, L.A. favorites like Hollywood at Home and her former boutique.
Because the Hancock Park and Newport, RI, residents prefer surf over scene, they welcome friends to the property almost every weekend. House rules resemble camp: breakfast at 7:30 a.m. with more bacon than one can imagine (though Sommers is a vegetarian); endless hiking; art in the studio; and no electronics or video games. The ranch was, of course, a natural choice for Luke’s recent 40th-birthday weekend. The catch? No cars, no cell phones, no iPads. Only nannies would be given an emergency contact. “It was about getting back to the basics, about face time,” she explains of the daylong party held throughout the acreage.
Sommers spent five months planning creative touches, from “Camp Luke” shirts and cheeky place cards to watercolor maps and a “pass” for shuttle transport between Bacara Resort and the ranch. Ninety guests—among them Todd and Katie Traina, Sally Horchow, Marlien Rentmeester and Mary Alice Haney—arrived that afternoon at a private beach access point. They then hiked to the top house for sunset margaritas. (Sommers sent fair warning on the Jonathan Wright invitations: an image of a crossed-out Christian Louboutin heel.) Guests later gathered underneath a twinkling oak canopy, where a table in the pasture was set for a feast of local Hollister Ranch short rib stew and truffled polenta. Loved ones took to the stage; music and dancing ensued. With lanterns in hand, they eventually meandered to the lounge-like barn, redone with “funky” finds like an old Coke machine and vintage Playboy magazines. “It was a full-on disco. We rocked out till five in the morning,” she adds.
Sommers insists her entertaining success is all in the magic of logging off. “People were so present. The landscape, well, I can’t take credit for that.” ruthiesommers.com.
Written and edited by Alison Clare Steingold.
Photographed by Willa Kveta.