Treasures of the Wilds By Sabrina Speidel
Thursday, February 6, 2003
Susan and James James'' 1898 Victorian cottage in Spreckels has seen its share of remodeling, but has remained true to its roots, pun intended. In the 1890''s in a tiny town four miles southwest of Salinas, Claus Spreckels designed a community for his sugar refinery workers as he engineered an innovative technique to extract sugar from beets. Known as the "Beet House," the James'' cottage has retained much of its original charm and character.
"There''s a sugar beet symbol in the top gable," Susan James says. "It''s a really cute country cottage. We tried to keep it as Victorian-Era as possible--we painted the house and original wood floors in pastel shades because that''s what they did in the old days. We replaced crown moldings, raised the ceilings back to the original 11 feet, and I decorated it the way I would envision they would have done, with some vintage furniture and Victorian shades."
In order to bring the home up to modern comfort level, the Jameses updated plumbing and electrical wiring, added modern appliances and put in forced-air heat. But even with the new conveniences, the 900-square-foot, two-bedroom, one-bath cottage, surrounded by a white picket fence, is still intentionally humble.
"It''s really tiny--and was a worker house so we tried not to do it fancy, but keep that old feel," Susan says. "Most people come in and say, ''This is a little dollhouse--it''s so sweet.''"
The community, which also boasts that among its former workers were John Steinbeck and his father, has many other original buildings, and also has some newer homes, designed to resemble the older ones.
"It''s got a very hometowny kind of feel," says Realtor Susan McGee. "It''s the kind of place where everyone talks to each other and the neighbors drop in for a cup of sugar."
Price: $339,000. 39 Railroad Ave., Spreckels. Contact: Susan McGee of American Properties, Inc. at 754-1403.
Pristine in Las Palmas
Heather Patania is known to be meticulous. And when she and her husband Albert remodeled their Las Palmas Ranch home in Salinas, their decisions reflected that attention to detail.
"We repainted everything inside and out," Heather says. "We landscaped the front and backyards and put in a desert weeping willow, stone on the face of the house, a built-in barbeque, a dog run, a new deck and a water fountain."
The Patanias also installed custom window treatments, granite tile on the fireplace, new light fixtures, appliances and plumbing. They even put new cabinets and carpet in the garage, just in time for Albert to get a new job out of the area.
"We haven''t even gotten a chance to enjoy the house," Heather laments.
The 2000 plus-square-foot home has three bedrooms plus a bonus room off the master suite.
"It worked excellent as a nursery, but we were eventually going to close it off and use it as a fourth bedroom or as a nice private sitting area," Heather says.
Heather''s favorite room, the kitchen, is located almost in the center of the house. Its circular shape is functional and allows for her three kids to stay out from underfoot while dinner is underway.
"Everyone gathers here, and people either sit at the bar or at the table in the eating nook," she says. "It''s really open and looks out into the backyard."
The home backs up to a green belt, with views of the mountains beyond. Walking trails and community play structures are right out the door.
"If you''re a young family, it''s an ideal community," Heather says. "It''s filled with kids and is relatively safe. It''s sunny out here all the time and everyone''s friendly."
Price: $619,900. Homeowners Association Dues: $85/month. 17611 Winding Creek Rd., Salinas. Contact: Kathleen Haney Jackson of RE/MAX Real Estate Services at 422-3443.