Thursday, March 15, 2007
Ralph and Mary Hennessy enjoy upgrading houses. With so many remodels in their history, they’ve garnered a sort of ensemble of consummate talent—self-employed, superb artisans they work with project after project. “We never think about who to call,” says Mary Hennessy.
Their current venture is a new house in Seaside Highlands. Since the messy drama of deconstruction was never even in the script, they proceeded as if playing Monopoly, zooming past Go for two years while their property was built for them. Thanks to one of their artists, the landscape architect Karen Aitken, the property could actually be called Park Place.
Using the spirit of the horticultural theme park Bonfante Gardens (now the Gilroy Family Theme Park), Aitken’s concept employs a confluence of trees, native grasses, water elements (a whispering, low stone fountain) and rock formations to impart the emotional satisfaction of open land—in a suburban backyard.
Aitken had an unwitting accomplice capable of expanding her vision and ultimately that of everyone else who sees the property. Her collaborator is the Blackhorse Golf Course, providing the background for Aitken’s starring landscape with the putting green on the 12th hole. Only the Hennessy’s simple wrought iron fence and one exquisitely shaped eucalyptus tree, its three trunks stretching right in unison like ballerinas, separate the two. Specialty lighting at night makes the tree appear ethereal. The full artwork is seen from so many places inside the house too. Upstairs, the bedroom windows offer balcony seating for the continually changing scenes below. “It’s like being secluded,” Mary Hennessy says, “It’s like viewing a vista. You can’t imagine how good it feels.”
Just walking into the home engenders the same. Everything outside leading to the front door is Aitken’s work, a prelude to the masterpiece in back. Everything inside the house has been brought to the highest standard of good taste. The flooring all through the ground level is antiqued limestone in whatever cuts blend into the next room. Rugs and furnishings are beautiful on it, the substantive quality pervasive. Windows are abundant and from the living room corner the views are Monterey lights at night, the bay by day.
Heavy crown molding outlines all ceilings and the custom maple built-ins were designed and made by the refined skills of the woodworking master, Mr. Parrish of Morgan Hill. Like the floors, the built-ins are so well integrated no attention is drawn to them, none too important to overshadow the whole. In the kitchen, cabinets and muted sunny granite counters have a tone that integrates the limestone and the maple. All the appliances are stainless Whirlpool Gold, the five-burner gas cook top is by Kitchen Aide and each is well-placed for ease of cooking.
Up the windowed staircase from the main area, one finds solid French doors to the master bedroom (with full bath). The views of the bay over descending tile roofs from one side and the rear landscape from the other are the best of all. Two guest rooms (one is currently an office/exercise room) share a full bath with daylight bounding through as it does throughout the house. The Hennessys’ home incorporates many compelling details, such as a recessed ceiling in the master, custom blinds and a professional interior design. “Now we’re building near Angels Camp,” Hennessy says. “But I’ll miss these views.”
Price: $1,195,000. 4400 Peninsula Point Drive, Seaside Highlands. Contact Lee Martin and Imogene Speiser, Alain Pinel Realtors, 620-6123 and 620-6112.