A California couple hunted for years to find a sunny refuge . Finally they discovered a dilapidated cottage set on a 1-acre lot overlooking Monterey Bay, and revealed it to general contractor Harry Smeenk. “The bones are great; the price is correct,” Smeenk explained, “but it is going to take a lot of work”
The homeowners already had a nice place to live but desired a weekend escape with not much home but a lot of space for entertaining. They asked Smeenk to help reimagine and enliven the cottage’s rundown interior and exterior, and tapped Martin Ballesteros of Ballesteros Landscape to transform the 2,000-square-foot lawn. Following three years of landscaping and renovating, the few never wishes to leave the hilltop hideaway.
at a Glance
Who lives here: A few in the property management business
Location: Santa Cruz mountains, California
Size: 932 square feet; two bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
The exterior was motivated by the glowing yellow cottages with red metal roofs and gingerbread trim that the owners saw on a holiday to St. Barts in the Caribbean.
The 1930s home belonged to a family that also utilized it as a weekend cabin. In 1950 they enlarged the arrangement to the two-bedroom house.
Once the present owners bought the house, the home was sitting precariously on a post-and-pier foundation and was sagging noticeably in back.
AFTER: Smeenk raised the home, poured a concrete perimeter foundation and put the house down onto it. The walls, doors, doors and mismatched moldings are all first. A brand new wraparound pergola covers the wooden deck.
The owners worked with Ballesteros to transform the barren yard into a superbly landscaped area for entertaining. “There was nothing until we began the project,” says Ballesteros. “There were only weeds, tall bushes and concrete”
Now a bocce ball court skirts one side of the bright wrought patio.
Toss some popular games into your lawn plans
The owners kept many of the home’s original features, attempting to honor and enhance them as far as you can. They kept the doors, wood paneling and single-pane windows, in addition to the exterior siding where it was in decent condition.
The living area has three distinct styles of original trim and window molding. “We rebuilt some of the timber windows to maintain them in style,” says Smeenk.
The owners opted to maintain and restore the wood paneling. Painter and artist Bill Mackin implemented a new layer of clear coat and painted the molding at a crisp, white semigloss.
Interior designer Jan Pfaff helped the couple furnish and decorate the space at a relaxed-meets-eclectic style.
The old kitchen was dingy and outdated, with lackluster cabinets, flooring and countertops.
AFTER: The “brand new” electric cooktop and oven were castoffs from a buddy’s remodel. The homeowners saw them as an opportunity to reuse and save money, so they gave the appliances fresh life in their own kitchen.
The curved storage at the end of the kitchen island was an original feature; the couple chose to maintain and enhance it.
Dishwasher: DishDrawer, Fisher & Paykel, Sears
Smeenk replaced the old carpeting and vinyl flooring with tile ; the dining room chairs were a lucky find from Craigslist.
Bill Mackin painted the master bedroom timber paneling a crispy white. As soon as it’s big, the space lacks closet area, so the couple got creative about where to save things — tucking many items under the mattress.
From their patio the owners enjoy taking a look at wildlife and magnificent views of the Salinas Valley, Carmel Highlands and south end of Monterey Bay. Ballesteros helped them select plants suitable for their environment. “The plants needed to be vibrant, deer resistant and drought tolerant — those were my three requirements,” the landscape designer says.
Ballesteros also designed and set up the irrigation method. “This was the most critical challenge we faced,” he says. “We needed to bring in fresh topsoil and rototiller the entire area, because water would not drain through the clay soil.”
The couple worked with Smeenk to convert an old redwood water tank behind the house into a whole outdoor bathroom.
Browse more homes by style:
Small Homes | Colorful Homes | Eclectic Homes | Modern Homes | Contemporary Homes | Midcentury Homes | Ranch Homes | Traditional Homes | Barn Homes | Townhouses | Apartments | Lofts | Vacation Homes
More: Take Your House Beautiful With Caribbean Chic