At Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa, EDG and Scott Edwards Embrace Oregon’s Essence
“The Pacific Northwest has its own vernacular.” This comes from a native Oregonian, Scott Edwards Architecture principal Rick Berry. He expounds on the concept: strong lines and Asian influences. Buildings, often gabled, are designed to withstand the wet climate. All these elements he put into play for the stunningly low-key Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa, sitting beachfront in the fishing town of Pacific City, a two-hour drive from Portland.
When the building was designed, though not yet constructed, Berry was joined by the hospitality specialists at EDG Design, which took charge of the furnishings. Interior Design last met up with EDG president and CEO Jennifer Johanson in a vastly different environment, hot and arid Arizona, for the Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa, a thoroughly corporate hotel as opposed to the personal passion project that is Headlands. Married real-estate developers Jeff Schons and Mary Jones, owners of the Kiwanda Hospitality Group, had worked with Berry for more than two decades. Together, the trio built a resort of partial-ownership cottages, plus a craft brewery, on a property right on the Pacific Ocean. Left over was a narrow slip of land, just 60 feet wide but more than 500 feet long. It faces a coastal beacon called Haystack Rock, a volcanic formation anchored out in the ocean.
“The owners knew what they wanted,” Johanson jumps in. “Or at least they thought they did.” Initially, their source of inspiration was the nearby town of Cannon Beach, populated by picturesque shops and restaurants. The narrative altered, however, following a site visit during which Johanson and her husband, EDG partner Patrick O’Hare, kayaked, went crabbing, and ran up and down the sand dunes. Luxury made way for outdoorsy as the vibe most likely to attract the Nike crowd—both figuratively and literally. A cadre of adventure coaches, who plan activities for intrepid guests, would replace a traditional concierge. Authenticity is key, too. Headlands was to be the antithesis of terminally hip. Johanson conceived an about-face for decades of hospitality thinking.
Approaching Headlands from a two-lane highway, guests pull into a porte cochere. The long building at left contains public spaces on the main level: first the lobby lounge, next Meridien restaurant offering an ocean-to-table menu. A level below, where the site slopes down to the beach, is Tidepools Spa, with its walk-out hot tub. Perpendicular to that building, connected to it by a bridge, a three-story neighbor houses the guest accommodations, all with view-facing covered balconies and decks.
Local, natural, and textural. That’s the materials palette to a T. Outside, cedar shingles are meant to silver with age. Stone stacked at the porte cochere and around the lounge’s fireplace is indigenous basalt—what’s more, the owners were adamant about having real wood burning in the hearth. Meanwhile, timber framing, supporting the lounge and restaurant’s cathedral ceiling, is Douglas fir. Flooring is oak, including the restaurant parquet configured and stained to resemble a Native American rug.
When it came to ambience, Berry says, “EDG nailed it.” Johanson made sure that it’s the warm and welcoming fireplace, not a super-slick reception desk, that greets entering guests. Off to the side stands a booth occupied by those adventure coaches, beckoning guests to experience the outdoors. Some seating is custom: the serpentine leather-covered sectional, a rosy banquette, stripy restaurant booths. Custom pendant fixtures are woven sea grass, inspired by Native American baskets. A branching chandelier skews contemporary. “Yes, it’s a bit trendy,” Johanson confesses. “But it feels natural.” More down-home—and entirely appropriate, given the Portland headquarters of Pendleton Woolen Mills—is the Pendleton connection at Headlands. A Pendleton blanket hangs as a tapestry behind the reception desk. Other blankets as well as pillows pepper the guest quarters.
Ranging from 400 to 450 square feet, the 33 guest rooms and suites are super-comfy and simultaneously outdoorsy in spirit. The comfort factor comes from fireplaces, sectionals, and, in the larger rooms, cast-iron tubs standing right out in the open. Bikes and surfboards, the active set’s treasured possessions, can be conveniently stowed, thanks to brackets affixed to the wall.
Other walls display local artwork. Johanson says she “jumped for joy” on discovering Pacific City’s Rowboat Gallery, representing “mostly Oregon artists who do everything from traditional oils to contemporary pastels and sculpture.” One sculpture, for example, is driftwood reborn. By the elevator on the ground level, guests get to contribute to their own “gallery” beneath a steel plate bearing the words What Did You Do Today? Just take a photo, print it, and clip it to a wire for all to see. “It’s super-low-tech. People love it,” she adds.
The aforementioned driftwood sculpture sits on the reception desk. Across the desk’s front, illuminated cutouts represent a flock of geese in flight. “Guests, like geese, are encouraged to return seasonally to Headlands,” Johanson says. She and Berry, for their part, may visit more frequently.
Project Team: Cindy Moore; Ahn Vu; Tim Hepworth; Alexa D’argent; Sheyna Ochs: EDG Design. Kelly Edwards: Scott Edwards Architecture. Melinda Morrison Lighting: Lighting Consultant. Rowboat Gallery: Art Consultant. Stricker Engineering: Structural Engineer. Groth-Gates Heating & Sheet Metal: Mechanical Engineer. EC Electric: Electrical Engineer. North Coast Mechanical: Plumbing Engineer. Harper Houf Peterson Righellis: Civil Engineer. Coyote Gardens: Landscaping Contractor. Bay View Door & Millwork Co: Woodwork. O’Brien & Company: General Contractor.