The California We Love: Mendocino and Vicinity

Stationery, galleries and an inn

Letter Perfect
Self-taught designer Zida Borcich of Studio Z Mendocino creates letterheads, business cards, and wedding invitations the old-fashioned way, using veteran machinery such as a 1969 German press for foil stamping and a 1924 Chandler & Price hand-fed press. "Look at the difference," she says. "It gives letters a third dimension. You can really see the shadow behind it." Her designs also have such delicacy, flair, and wit that she's a favorite of interior designers nationally. She's a local favorite as well—everyone stays around to visit and gossip while picking up stationery and cards. $1,000 to design a logo; $200-$1,200 for business cards; $5-$10 for a wedding invitation set, more for handmade paper. 711 N. Main St., Fort Bragg, CA 95437; 707-964-9448; fax 707-964-0850;

Natural Beauties
Since 1977, William Zimmer, of the eponymous gallery, has been collecting the work of local and international artisans and artists, including jewelers and woodcrafters who are a mainstay of the Mendocino coast. Among the standouts: carved curly maple and wenge chairs by local Anthony Kahn ($3,900), a curved walnut desk by Robert Erickson ($9,500), and smooth, Asian-influenced ceramic and bronze sculptures by English artist Peter Hayes, who achieves some of the gradations in his finishes by submerging his pieces for months at a time in the river Avon. Kasten and Ukiah Streets. Box 263, Mendocino, CA 95460; 707-937-5121; fax 707-937-2405;

Rustic Chic
Sticks is the one-stop shop for designer cabins. Owner Bob Keller keeps about 20 artisans busy producing everything from handmade rawhide lampshades ($125) to red alder rocking chairs ($450) to bedframes composed of driftwood ($695 for queen-sized beds). "People always call me when they're removing wood from their lots," Keller says, explaining his very creative recycling. Add a variety of handmade baskets, model canoes, fish wall hangings, and rustic, patterned blankets and it's easy to understand why he ships everywhere from the Adirondacks to the Sierras. $ 45085 Albion St., Mendocino, CA 95460; 707-937-2621; fax 707-937-2629.

Coastal dining
Diners at Albion River Inn are reluctant to leave. Stephen Smith prepares gutsy dishes with a deft blend of ingredients: a creamy seafood chowder of clams, mussels, shrimp, and seasonings; a salad of organic greens, blue cheese, Fuji apples, and grapes; grilled steak with Cambozola cheese, wild mushrooms, and caramelized pancetta; a rhubarb-and-berry cobbler. Simple, hearty food with just enough of a spin to make it interesting and a huge, impressive wine list. No wonder it's a favorite in town. The inn also has 20 rooms with coastline views and very bare-bones decor. Dinner, $65. Rooms, $180-$280. 3790 N. Highway 1, Albion, CA 95410; 800-479-7944, 707-937-1919; fax 707-937-2604;

The Inn With the View
First of all, there's the view. The Harbor House Inn's redwood house, built for lumber company executives in 1916, sits high on a cliff overlooking the rock formations in isolated Greenwood Cove, one of the most romantic coastal vistas. And since owners Elle and Sam Haynes took over the inn in 1998, created lush gardens, and upped the level of cuisine and decor, The Harbor House Inn has become the most luxurious inn along this seaside stretch.

Spend your mealtimes here. Even nonguests turn up for breakfast: chef Lynn Derrick's gossamer pancakes and eggs benedict on delicate herb biscuits. Then there are Paul Ciardiello's delicious dinner menus. Adding to the overall package: The Haynes are warm, solicitous innkeepers. $205-$400 (includes breakfast and dinner for two). 5600 S. Highway 1, Elk, CA 95432; 800-720-7474, 707-877-1624; fax 707-877-3452;

$ Establishment accepts no charge/credit cards or accepts cards other than the American Express Card.