Scallops of windows enhance this sturdy 1949 structure.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
One might surmise that the all-encompassing well-being this house emanates is due to the good spirit of Jim and Charleen Beard, the couple who has lived here since 1979. Charleen immediately denies such billing, saying, “The house felt like it put its arms around me the first time we walked in.” Jim adds, “We bought it the next day to keep a few years, but 28 years later we still want it.”
But after a heart-wrenching struggle, the Beards have decided to move to Colorado to be near their children and triplet grandchildren. “I’ll miss the house though,” Charleen says. Jim chuckles, “She’ll get used to it, she always has.” They traveled the world during his long career, then continued their international friendships here through those studying at the Naval Postgraduate School and Defense Language Institute. “We’ve entertained foreign dignitaries and students here frequently,” Jim says. “We had a Polish and a Russian guest who at first mistrusted each other but hugged and wept goodbye.”
Architecturally, the Beard residence is unique in the neighborhood. In the mid 1950s, America’s housing boom left many stalwart constructions like this 2,625-square-foot stucco and plaster fortress with natural light as its primary architectural component – a concept far ahead of its time in family houses.In this residence, window configurations in the living room, dining room and both upstairs and downstairs bedrooms all breach the structure’s rectangular footprint with the broad curve of a scallop shell, resulting in bowed walls of light. The largest of these is the living room’s five double-sized windows that curve gently outward then back for 20-feet, expanding not only the floor space, but the air and light space too.
Intriguingly, the ceilings in these rooms are partners in the bow-effect. They’re raised and cambered (very high rounded peaks) sloping evenly to coved corners. It’s disarming to suddenly understand how much they contribute to the innate feeling of security without confinement that this house offers. A house built like this is surprising enough for 1949, but there are more surprises.
Well thought-out bedrooms and full bath unseen from the living room are accessed off a short, wide and gracious hallway that also has no 90-degree corners. Instead, like the rest of the house, it has bull-nose corners just past the wood trim.
Other ingenious details include a substantial living room fireplace of brick that’s engineered to send heat into the room instead of up the (plastered) chimney. The chimney top joins the curve of the ceiling almost imperceptibly.
Through the living room, the formal dining room corners into the kitchen where a garden window, five-feet long and three-feet deep, hangs above the sinks, and behind the kitchen, the passage ends in a windowed laundry room and half bath.
A harmonious room by the dining room has a wall of windows with sliders opening onto a long, deep, private courtyard with healthy, thick ivy growing for decades to cover a six-foot high fence. The room is superb: the ideal bedroom, studio, office or meditation center.
The lower-level stairway is at the end of the bedroom hallway. Below, two rooms expand to the same square footage as the floor above. There’s a huge master (with big bowed windows as in the living room above) and bath, a family room, separate hot tub room, and lots of windows. Charleen says, “Jim did that when the triplets were born.” It’s full of sky, like the house itself.
Price: $765,000 882 Portola Ave., Del Rey Oaks. Contact Coldwell Banker Del Monte Realty, Lore Linger 809-6208 or Anne Hogan 277-0038.