Fire and Water.
Thursday, June 19, 2003
Photo: Waterfall House: This Prunedale retreat-built with three fireplaces and an outdoor firepit-sits peacefully below a dramatic river-rock waterfall.
Sarah and Ron Whitehead spent two years designing, and almost another two years building their 3800-square-foot Prunedale home. Now only three years old, the home, which sits on 20 acres of meadows and natural gardens, glows with the pristine quality that the Whiteheads envisioned. Dramatic windows in the living room frame the man-made river-rock waterfall in the rear garden. A large window above the gas fireplace allows for the look of fire and water simultaneously. Sidelights on the French doors have screens and pop open to allow fresh air to flow through the house, insect-free.
"In the living room we wanted that fire and water combination," Sarah says. "We would have needed a chimney if we put in a wood-burning fireplace, so we used a gas one." Across from the large living room, a step leads down to the formal dining room that sits in its own bank of windows. A large mirror above a hand-carved fireplace reflects the waterfall behind the house.
"It''s lovely to sit in the dining room and have a glass of wine and read a book," Sarah says. "The room has a great spirit and ambience. I''ve got all my grandmother''s china and my family heirlooms in here. I just wish they were all here with me to enjoy it."
Niches for flower arrangements, intricate crown moldings and Italian chandeliers add more charm to the house. Ten-foot ceilings and eight-foot whitewashed pine doors create an open feeling. Skylights in all the rooms add even more light and a sense of space. Unusual angles created extra work for the builders, but add to the uniqueness and grace.
"We designed the house for the site and the views," Sarah says. "It was very tricky for everyone involved, but they had a lot of fun building it."
Sarah''s other favorite room, the kitchen, is a blend of mocha-hued granite and Italian tile, anchored by Viking appliances.
"We looked high and low for the gold-brown color," Sarah recalls.
A recipe desk complete with built-in bookshelves sits in a windowed corner adjacent to a breakfast table. Live ivy traces the custom-built hood over the range, and gently curves around the upper portions of the room.
At one end of the house, two large guest bedrooms, outfitted with all the amenities of the rest of the house, have private views into the gardens. At the other end, French doors close off a master suite that has another set of double doors for complete privacy. Like all the bedrooms, the master has a view to the waterfall and side gardens.
"It''s like a storybook house," Sarah says.
In the master bath, a deep soaking tub looks out to the waterfall. Next to the master suite, a large open office provides a space for Sarah to work from home, surrounded by the trees outside.
Just down the driveway, a 700-square-foot guesthouse with vaulted ceilings is designed in the same style as the main house, complete with its own gardens and a stone-faced garage providing parking for three cars, bringing the total garages on the property to seven. Below the home, 10 acres of open meadows offers the opportunity for horses and pastureland.
In the back garden behind the house, below the waterfall, a copper fire pit warms the toes of peace seekers. A "secret garden" hidden to the side of the house and accessed by a stone pathway provides another space to entertain.
"It''s starting to look like it''s been here awhile," Sarah says of the gardens blooming with roses, gladiolas, and native plantings. "This area is fantastic if you want to be in the country, and it''s affordable compared to the Peninsula. It''s rare to get 20 acres with no easements through it."
Price: $1,550,00. 7020 Tustin Rd., Prunedale. Contact: Sarah Whitehead of Cottages and Castles Realty at 663-6631.