Big Sur Deluxe
Thursday, February 1, 2007
Ken and Stephanie Lee and their family live on seven-plus acres near Big Sur, where the steeply undulating hills, deeply folded canyons and perfidious cliffs with sheer drops to the surf below are famous. Because there are so few visible homes there, the intense glory of Los Padres National Forest reigns supreme. Small communities tucked around the edges thrive unseen, reached via roads known mostly to locals.
Residents of Big Sur are fiercely protective of the place, and once established, rarely leave. “It’s where you may not realize how much you can rely on your neighbors until the time comes,” Lee says.
The Lees have lived in Big Sur for 15 years, the last three in their house. “We wanted the absolute serenity and to be self-sufficient (spring water storage tank, solar installation, propane gas and a generator for the vacuum and washer). We’re only selling because the girls have graduated (from Captain Cooper Elementary) to the Carmel schools. The commute is too long for them.”
The family lives near the top of Palo Colorado Canyon, approximately 45 minuets from Carmel. Some may describe the house as a cabin despite its two bedrooms, two full baths, “live-in” master closet, den, great room (with wood-burning stove) and nicely-appointed kitchen (with a four-burner-and-griddle Wolf stove).
There’s a gracefully wide deck in front and another off the living room that soars above the pines, madrones and oaks. From there, views in three directions span the rolling profiles of Los Padres that end only when they meet the sky. One suspects the word “cabin” might not work if the house were made of stucco instead of redwood and pine.
The architecture pitches the roof from a standard eight feet at the entry to a peak of 20 feet as it soars above the wrap-around deck that follows the line of the house, a form similar to the wings of a big bird performing a slow, calculated descent. Windows fill the façade and great room with light.
“The moonrise here is unbelievable,” says Lee. In addition to numerous big windows in every room, seven skylights offer pearly brightness to them all, even in the master closet and the pantry (with built-in workstation and wine rack).
“The house was built 34 years ago, and we’re only the third owners,” Lee says. They bought it from the Hills, who lived there a long time. Mr. Hill graciously donated some of his refined watercolor paintings to the house, where they hang in several rooms.
“There seems to be a natural attraction to this area by people who want acres of privacy and tranquility,” Lee says. “In fact, this den was Mr. Hill’s painting studio.” The den, one bedroom and one bath are on the opposite side of the house from the master suite, offering privacy inside as well as out.
The quality detailing in the house is the best of Big Sur styling. The front door is heavy redwood (with screen) and locks via a horizontal slab that slides into a carved latch. On the outside, a dried gourd is cross-pinned at the top of the door and serves as the knocker. Interior door handles, drawer pulls and even towel racks are made of a piece of branch just right for each purpose.
Though the house is not luxurious in the ordinary sense, it’s imbued with the utter luxury of being at one with the natural world, perhaps even immune to the harsh realities found elsewhere.
Price: $950,000. 38757 Palo Colorado Rd., Big Sur. Contact Nancy Sanders, Keller Williams Realty, 596-5492.