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Cachagua Italiante: Big Ideas: The many acres at 19231 Cachagua Rd. are filled with clever comforts and beautiful accents.— Hali Jones

There’s a notable man who, in mid-life, in his spare time, while working everyday as a private contractor, single-handedly built his estate on 40-plus high acres above knock-out valley panoramas; who planted 70 mission olive trees producing ready fruit; who constructed a post-and-trellis wine-grape garden, which now thrives beneath aviary screening; who planted flower gardens for their beauty and prickly pear cactus for the jelly; and who installed gravity-fed automatic irrigation systems for every tree, vine and blossom; who also erected a commercial greenhouse, an equine tack room and crossed fencing for cattle; and who built an 800-square-foot studio-workshop near his 2,000-square-foot elegantly simple ranch house. The estate is infused with his crackling vitality and absence of pretense.

The man is Gip Tegtmeier, and he’s offering this masterpiece for one reason: “I have a great relationship,” he says. “She’s in Santa Cruz and we’ve all but moved everything from here to our place up there.” While building his estate over 12 years, evidence shows there wasn’t much he couldn’t accomplish, “except meeting the right lady,” he quips.

The house and its immediate environs are remarkable in layout and detail. For example, in the front gardens below the long, wide veranda, Tegtmeier put a swinging bench under a peaked tile roof. Shrubs flowering high around the sides make it sweetly private, somehow, right out in the open near live oaks and myriad other shade trees.

“I lived in Italy and really loved the light there,” Tegtmeier says. “That’s what got me wanting the feel of Italian houses. But there’s so much potential here that I’ve barely tapped.” He has done more than a press gang could have, but nevertheless, he’s not kidding.

Inside, the house further testifies to Tegtmeier’s unflinching ideal. The great room and open kitchen are floored with imported Italian terracotta tiles, as is the entire veranda along the front of the house. Small bright tiles are inset at distances, splashing sunlight across neutral prairie. For the huge fireplace with ceiling-high chimney, Tegtmeier used various shades of medium-sized rounded river rock, and then smoothed large swaths between them, exchanging predictable massiveness for stunning tranquility.

In the huge kitchen, Tegtmeier designed a hood over the Thermador gas stove that blends right in. Close inspection reveals a subtle, sophisticated art form that quietly meets the vaulted ceilings. They’re pitched gently, for airy space, but not cavernous. The main kitchen counter is a vast half octagon with breakfast bar seating for a cast of many.

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The private half of the house, with the den, three bedrooms and two full baths (with tubs), is very different from the open areas, sectioned and completely carpeted, designed with a jewel of a master suite. Sliders open onto the veranda with views clear to the Los Padres horizon. A grand window (of which there are many, well proportioned throughout the house) faces a different direction. His-and-hers walk-in closets are accompanied by a single third with double sliding doors.

Back outside, Tegtmeier says with the sweep of his arm, “This part is 20 acres. Up there is another plateau of 20 more. I’ve got ideas for it all, but it’s too much for one person to do.” Now he’s kidding.

Price: $1,599,000 19231 Cachagua Rd., Carmel Valley. Contact Michelle Cohen, Flat Rate Realty, 566-1235. 

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