Carmel cottage’s allure comes from subtle and unusual touches.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Norma Prince lives in an enchanting house. Her pleasing decor happens to bring to mind a cottage-like adjective, but not to exclusivity. It’s also elegant with a simple layout and inherent magnetism.
It’s small – less than 900 square feet – with two bedrooms and one bath, and it’s tucked between two larger houses. The arrangement causes no intrusion upon Prince’s home. Everywhere inside, on the wide terrace or in the narrow back garden is out of view. Such enviable privacy is achieved by several factors, including how her house sits on the lot (far back from and facing away from the street), the thick, high, smooth stucco wall enclosing and screening the terrace (length of house) and the solid wood fence along the back garden (width of the house) continuing along the side that completes the perimeter.
Conversely, the terrace and garden are on full display from every room inside, except the bath, from large, gracious windows and French doors. Two highly arched wood gates flank the terrace to close off the walkway and driveway on the street side and one on the back garden. The gates create the utmost seclusion to make both areas worlds unto themselves. Sun fills them so fully they become like a painting lit for ideal contemplative gazing.
Prince and her son bought the house to remodel it. Prince says, “It was entirely cement block and looked like an old bunker.” The patio wall and the carport also were block so lath and plaster had to be laid over it then finished with the smooth stucco (painted a soft Caucasian shade of face powder). Prince says, “The house is really solid. During that big storm it never even made a sound.” Little to nothing is heard from outside in general, making it a bit of sanctuary.
Although it’s of the late-1950s era, the house is one of a kind for unpredictable reasons. For example, the walls in the living room were designed ever so slightly off-square, the front one angling east to southwest, one side wall south to northeast, with the opposite going southwest to northwest, and none precisely so. The living room fireplace (tastefully simple, pale-gray marble hearth) therefore angles slightly away from the center of the living room. The whole effect is incredibly subtle and fun to discover. The floor is a peaceful study of time and spirit, probably long carpeted given the good condition of the hardwood with its great patina. Some of the slats are veined completely, others not, and here and there fascinating square inserts of the same wood probably were used for repairs. The whole floor has been refinished, as has every surface in the house. All ceilings are the original wide-plank pine, now stained like delicate gray/brown driftwood. White, appropriately narrow, beams run across them.
The interior space of the house is used well with the living room (possible living room/dining room) meeting the pale-gray marble breakfast bar of an open kitchen that extends to a workstation (many uses) and stacked washer/dryer, then to a windowed door directly into the carport. The big, square living-room window starts at floor level, the Dutch front door is half glass, the light just wonderful, as it is, too, in both bedrooms, the master with glass French doors to the back garden. There, a hefty, very tall old evergreen in the far corner stands shoulder to shoulder with only the sky.
The property is appreciatively unpretentious in a lovely area where good neighbors create the huge holiday party held every year.
Price: $999,000. Third southwest of Lobos Street, Carmel. Contact Wicket Real Estate, 915-4517.