A Seaside Legacy
Thursday, August 19, 2004
Scott and Karla Coulter’s house tells good stories. Generations of owners have dedicated years to caring for the home. The Coulters bought it from the grandson of the original owners, a man already in his 60s.
“We did so much with that house, we worked so hard on it, and we loved living there so much,” Karla says. “The first time we went in, we looked at each other and said, ‘This is it.’ We had so much fun redoing it that now it’s hard to leave.”
Going through the garden gate leading to the front door of the house is like stepping out of modern mayhem into the calm of an older, more solid world. The garden is spacious and meandering with much to pique a vistiors’ curiosity.
“It’s nearly all original, old growth,” Karla says. “We put in the big hot tub by the outdoor kitchen and bar, and found architectural antiques to continue the Mediterranean garden ambiance. But I was so careful not to disturb what was there.”
Once inside, the house continually presents unexpected satisfaction. In the foyer wall, a wooden artifact from a peasant church, smoothed and simple, is embedded as a niche.
“Did you notice the windows and French doors are very old too?” Karla asks. “We kept collecting architectural antiques from all over and saved them for years. In our last house, the whole garage was filled with things we couldn’t wait to use.”
Sets of French doors in the kitchen, den and living room subtly blend into the creamy stucco walls and ceilings of the house. With the exception of the second bedroom, which is lushly carpeted, terracotta tiles floor the entire house. Skylights are in many rooms, recessed and unobtrusive.
The master suite is so private it’s hard to think it’s even there. Its corner fireplace is remote-controlled, and the walk-in closet is completely organized. Nevertheless, the room seems transplanted from the 19th century. The master bath is done with high-end antiques, such as the genuine claw-foot tub with wrap-around curtain, but with modern shower fixtures.
“I love that bedroom and bath,” Karla says. “A deep soaking-tub. Incredible.” The second bathroom is a similar blend of then and now.
The house is one level and longer than it is wide. “At one time, there were three separate houses,” says Karla.
During the Depression, one of the San Francisco newspapers looking for subscribers gave land lots as incentives to sign up. Individual dwellings were eventually built on each.
“When we bought it, those had already been connected,” Karla says. “We added on, raised roofs, took out walls, exposed beams, put in fireplaces, hung handmade lighting, and turned the kitchen into what it is.”
What it is gives much of the mood in the house. Opening directly to the garden, French doors separate opposite-side counters and cabinets, all handmade of warm old woods, as if straight from Provence. An industrial Imperial, six-burner gas stove in brushed stainless matches the refrigerator and freezer, and the center island of distressed wood is huge and handsome.
Then, there is the laundry room, just off the sunken den. It’s built around a very big, silver-barked oak tree, easily there 60 years. The ceiling and walls accommodate several of the oak’s thick branches, and once outside, visitors see that the branches rise up high to umbrella nearly the length of the house.
“The grandfather of the man who sold the house to us planted it,” Karla says. “We love it, and this is how we honored it.”
Price: $649,000. 1323 Elm St., Seaside. Contact Carol Crandall of Burchell House Real Estate at 238-0487.