Thursday, June 22, 2006
Carol Laughlin is as unique and faceted as her property. In 1987, she sold a massive place in Pebble Beach and bought a one-bedroom house on the Salinas River in what originally was a 1930s fishing camp. She decided to rent it out while getting her master’s degree, and after accomplishing that discovered the best job was in Merced, where she worked until ‘97.
When she finally returned, she remodeled the house so the back became the front and visa-versa. Consequently, oversized heavy double doors with square panes no longer face a neighbor, they open to a once-upon-a-time view of fields, unobstructed sky as far as can be seen, and the Salinas River as it wends sleekly between banks of giant bamboo and oaks. All that magnificent nature is fronted by Laughlin’s added deck surrounded by her luscious garden, fenced and gated. She created an atmosphere of sublime refreshment in what was already a splendidly authentic house, the last in the enclave, the only one with its own septic system and so much privacy. As logic might predict, she’s moving to New Zealand.
“Well,” says Laughlin, “My son and daughter-in-law are in Christ’s Church expecting my first grandchild and we’re hoping my daughter will join us; she calls New Zealand paradise.”
What a pity Laughlin’s house can’t go along. It’s a regular little miracle, built by Steve Mendez, who Laughlin describes as an absolute perfectionist. “Everything is perfectly aligned, the materials the best. It’s sided with three-inch boards, just solid as a rock.” Oak floors start in the foyer going throughout the house, including the bathroom. All windows (well over a dozen in the 700-square-foot space) are wood-framed lift-ups with heavy center latches, the doorframes built as if to withstand Dorothy-and-Toto type weather. Walking through the house incites not one squeak.
Although designed with one bedroom, the house is replete with other rooms around every corner, and all but the foyer have those unimpeded views of the river and fields that begin at the garden gate, providing one with a sense of living well on some verdant prairie. The foyer is wonderfully long with built-in bookshelves beneath a bank of five widows. Around the corner is an expansive and original ‘30s kitchen open to the great room with an alcove created when the original front entry became a wall. The next door is the bedroom, with a dressing room behind it, blessed with three double-deep closets for hanging and folded items. The laundry room is around the next corner with full-sized washer and dryer, more oak floors and lift-up window.
Then the last room in the house, the conversation stopper. Suddenly there’s an irregularly shaped room with built-in cabinets and drawers along one wall, wrap-around shelving above, cement floor, back door, lift-up window; a premiere shop or artist’s studio. Imagine all that living space in a one-bedroom house with an exalted view to boot.
Laughlin loves living there and feels she’ll miss so much about it. “I’ve never locked my doors,” she says. “Some of my fondest memories are of the great blue herons helping their young practice flight by my garden gate, the sounds of beaver smacking their tails on the river during my moonlit walks, taking an injured red tail and owl to the wildlife center and of all the little children who came to throw chamomile seeds with me, and now will get to see them become a meadow of flowers.”
Price: $390,000. 289 Monte Rd. #8, Salinas • Contact Bobbi Kelly, Realtor, GRI, WCR, Century 21 Agents of Change, 241-0977.