Step Inside Designer Nathan Turner’s Idyllic California

For anyone traveling to sunny California—and even for those who think they know all about the Golden State—designer Nathan Turner’s book I Love California: Design and Entertaining the West Coast Way (Abrams, $40) is a must-read. Part cookbook, part travelogue, and part decor inspiration guide, the book, says Turner, “is a love letter to my home state.” Now that summer travel season has shifted into high gear, we sat down with the peripatetic tastemaker for the inside scoop on California dreaming.

Architectural Digest: We all know about Big Sur and Santa Barbara. What are some of the more picturesque but lesser-known destinations in California?

Nathan Turner: Two of them are childhood favorites: Tomales Bay, which almost feels like New England, and Hope Valley, which transports you back to the Wild West. There’s also Lone Pine in the Eastern Sierra. I always stop there on my drive from Los Angeles to Lake Tahoe.

For a lunch in Sausalito, Turner used Ralph Lauren’s Nanking fabric as a tablecloth under Japanese Garden dinnerware from Williams Sonoma.

AD: Name three dishes at three California restaurants that should be on everyone’s culinary bucket list.

NT: Roast chicken for two at Zuni Café in San Francisco is a must. Since Alice Waters only cooks what is in season, I recommend anything on the menu at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. That has to be at the top of any bucket list. The fried shrimp tacos from the Mariscos Jalisco food truck are out of this world. I’ll follow that truck anywhere!

AD: Where is the giant artichoke sculpture pictured in your book? It’s Instagram platinum.

NT: That’s in Castroville, the artichoke capital of the world, of course. It’s in Central California, close to the Pacific. The cool ocean breeze creates the perfect climate for artichokes.

Turner pledges allegiance to California in his camping kitchen setup in Markleeville, a gold-rush town in the Sierra Nevada.

AD: Let’s say some of your fancy-pants foodie friends from the East Coast are visiting San Francisco and Los Angeles. Where do you send them to eat?

NT: In San Francisco, I recommend China Live, Del Popolo, and Nopalito. In L.A., I’d try Chi Spacca, Republique, and Pizzana.

AD: Where are some of your favorite farmers’ markets?

NT: Ferry Plaza in San Francisco is great. There are also terrific farmers markets in Ojai and Point Reyes.

A hefty porker adds some flavor to a makeshift bar in Malibu.

AD: Where are your favorite places to camp and commune with nature?

NT: My family is very outdoorsy, so I have been camping since I was a kid. I’ve camped all over the Sierra Nevada and still love it. In particular, I like Hope Valley and Markleeville. If you’re not experienced or want a camp-lite moment, I recommend the tents at Sequoia High Sierra Camp in the Sequoia National Forest, or the little log cabins at Sorensen’s in Hope Valley. If you don’t want to camp at all but still want to feel like a cowboy, Alisal Guest Ranch near Solvang is for you!

Nathan Turner’s book I Love California: Design and Entertaining the West Coast Way (Abrams).

AD: If a civil war broke out between Northern and Southern California, which side would you fight for?

NT: That’s a tough one. I’ve lived down south for 20-plus years, but my roots are so deep up north. I might have to go back home.

AD: Any final recommendations?

NT: Yes. Get my book!

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