The “Spaceship House” of La Selva Beach, California—built by landscape architect Mary Gordon between 1969 and 1972—where the artist and designer Angelina Rennell (who coined its name) lives part-time with her family. An unusually sculptural building, the 700-square-foot, white-stuccoed curio sits amidst a colourful garden, with the rolling Pacific visible just beyond. “A lot of work went into picking plants and landscaping ... picking the colours, [deciding] how the plants would grow,” Rennell says. “There’s a sense of minimalism and restraint, but the garden is also unusual, and really out there.”



The Spaceship House was purchased by Rennell’s mother in 2013 as a kind of passion project. “It was barely liveable and every wall, every window, almost every inch needed to be replaced or restored.” Over the next two years, the space was carefully transformed into a condition fit for living. While in the single loft bedroom there are “little nooks and crannies and spaces that bring your eye out”—details that work to abstract the room’s modest dimensions—generous patio space and a riot of windows make the house feel uncommonly airy.



“I can walk into any house, and I just love the space,” she says. “Even horrible houses, I’ll see the potential—it’s a true passion.” One imagines that negotiating some of the Spaceship House’s more disconcerting features—namely, a lack of dedicated closet space—would be difficult without that passion; but in fact, architect Mary Gordon seemed to anticipate today’s “tiny house” obsession with her building’s clever efficiency.“Everything sort of has storage in it,” Rennell says. “The bed has drawers built into it, . . . the long bench in the family room has storage in it.”There’s also a shed the same colour and material as the house out back, but it’s about “the size of a car” and filled mostly with garden tools.



Rennell has hardly been tired of its weirdness. She recognises the home is irreplaceable: “I don’t think you could build this kind of house from scratch today,” she says. “I don’t think that it would pass the county’s building codes!”