Update on a creative remodel.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
In general, when a house is described as cute and charming, the images invoked are something like batted whiffle balls: brief, breezy, inconsequential. In this case, though, the descriptives are substantive. The inside of 891 Lighthouse Ave. is cute, given the home’s 81 years and elfin size (645 square feet, two bedrooms, one bath). The property (2,100 square feet) is charming, set on a corner complemented on opposite sides by two silvery oaks of magisterial age and height, with the grace of pure simplicity oaks can rarely claim.
There was a lot to update when Leon and Joan Hittner bought the house seven years ago for their daughter, son-in-law and new baby. Leon chuckles remembering all the work they did first. “Everything had to be brought up to code,” he says. The remodel took some creative thinking.
The original gas furnace under the floor was exchanged for an insert in the fireplace in the front room. “That fireplace heats the whole house,” says Leon. They put in a new kitchen with lots of pale maple cabinets, an electric cook top stove, linoleum floor (easy sippy-cup clean-up), and a pair of stainless sinks under the kitchen window. “We also tore down the whole front porch and rebuilt it exactly. It was rotten in places and the stairs weren’t in good shape,” he says. The house itself was, though.
In the tiny front room, the oak floors are original (as are the many windows) and would be gorgeous with the 80-year-old patina buffed to excellence. It’s useful to mention that the diminutive size of the house in general does require a certain acceptance of compromise. There’s no dining area, except for a tiny nook by the kitchen with a wall-mounted table and benches. It’s quite pretty nonetheless with an archway, a nice window and a little wrought-iron, chandelier.
The two bedrooms are newly carpeted and may still have the hardwood underneath. Both have the convenience of deep closets. The windows look to the solid green wall of a house next door, thereby assuring genuine privacy.
Hittners’ house and three others are side-by-side along Lighthouse Ave., built by the same developer with the same design. Weathered 80 years, the homes are not identical anymore and each has its own unique color. There’s a mint green and a bright brick red, and the Hittner home is a soft off-white with bright white trim. On a corner lot, framed by the grand oaks so full and exuberant they blend into a canopy high above the house, the property steals the whole block.
The Hittners created the landscaping from scratch. “There was nothing but sand and a mud hill in back that flowed against the house when it rained,” Leon says. Well-arranged railroad ties solved that, and the yard came alive with drought-resistant plantings, now mature and expressive, with a path up the middle.
“We also surrounded the house with French drains in four feet of gravel and rebuilt the driveway and entire garage,” he adds. The garage is currently a laundry and storage area with a thick concrete floor. Although not prepped for it, it could be a swell playroom.
Leon says, “When our second grandchild was born the house got too small, so after two years the kids moved.”
Since then it has been rented to a family of five and sometimes six who didn’t mind “small” at all. Leon says, “They really like one another, really enjoyed the house.”
Price $549,000 891 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove • Contact: J.R. Rouse, Owner/Broker • 644-9440