A secret staircase, elevated courtyard and majestic oak tree bring Carmel storybook home to life.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
The large English Tudor-style building on Seventh in downtown Carmel could be the cover of a storybook filled with once-upon-a-time enchantment. There are two peaked roofs; the first high with a big eight-paned window tucked beneath its eaves, the other low, protecting a window half that size. Sometimes, the glow from a lamp deep inside the house shines out from the upstairs windows like a remnant of times past.
At street level, two picture windows tinted amber against the sun sit side by side next to the building’s entrance. A high, gated arch leads into a passageway staircase– the key to secrets yet to be unlocked.
The building, called Enchanted Oaks, was constructed in 1924 and has changed hands numerous times over the decades. When current owner Paul Bird bought the property, he began a huge historical renovation. With the exception of the façade, the entire structure was dissembled from the ground to the roof, then fully and solidly reconstructed to replicate the original building as closely as possible.
Enchanted Oaks is the location of Tresors Antiques, the internationally known purveyor of fine 17th-, 18th- and 19th-century French furniture and objects d’art. Stanley Crossley, part of the Bird family, runs Tresors with infinite knowledge (and a British accent). Crossley lives on the property too; the land is zoned for any variety of mixed uses and has water to spare.
Despite the exterior charm, a visitor isn’t necessarily prepared for the interior, which is something of a kingdom. The street-level gallery is a relatively small space, but feels huge beneath vaulted ceilings that soar to the peaks of the roofs. A splendid mezzanine cantilevered over the main room beckons a visitor up a set of oak stairs to see more artifacts. Looking down, one notices a single door at the side of the lower gallery. It opens to the secret passageway staircase– but gives no indication of what’s at the top.
Turning from the mezzanine to investigate further, one experiences a revelation by rounding the corner. Spanning the length of the building is an impressively tailored room with big, handsomely understated windows and a set of French doors. The best part, though, is going where the French doors lead.
They open onto an amazing courtyard, one of only two elevated courtyards among Carmel commercial properties, this one brick and rimmed with a garden wall complimented by a vibrant oak tree, its deep green leaves forming a canopy of grace. (The building got its name from a group of such oaks.) This hidden, magical courtyard is where the passageway stairs arrive and how one can return to the street directly.
There’s one more extraordinary aspect, a spiral staircase at one end of the courtyard to a third-floor penthouse. Inside one may as well live in the sky with views of rooftops below in two directions, an enviably pretty angle onto the courtyard and a leafy, happy tree against the kitchen window. Daylong sun bounds through the many windows tracking from east to south to west, creating a jovial disposition. The penthouse has a full kitchen (fridge, stove, sink), full bath (tub), space for even a queen bed plus an area for personal endeavors.
Enchanted Oaks tells many beautiful stories, inside and out.