Reimagining home

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15 years ago we finished building the only home we started from scratch at the coast in a lovely little town called Manzanita. We have always restored homes that seemed in need of TLC and as we couldn’t find this sort of home in a very heated property market in 2002. So we found a lovely lot tucked away from the bustle of town and ended up working with a local revered eco architect named Tom Bender. We had some ecological goals for this home:

  • to use all salvaged and reclaimed wood for most of the finish woodwork and flooring and ceilings
  • to create a space that had only as much space as was needed to provide three bedrooms and a couple bathrooms, 1500 sq feet was where we landed
  • we tried earthen floors downstairs where we had the bedrooms
  • decks were designed off of each room so there was a strong connection between inside and outside
  • as we were on a hill, we created a pond where all the rain, a lot out here, would flow into

We loved what we created and enjoyed and shared the place with friends for almost ten years before we were moving back to England for an extended period and decided to sell. We sold the place fully furnished and the couple who bought it seemed to really love the place. We came back from the UK seven years later and met the current owner and even spent a  lovely weekend at our old place at his invitation. We realized how nice it would be to have some space back at the coast as it felt like such a special spot in the world.

There was a place that came on the market not far from our old place and we negotiated with the sellers but couldn’t quite agree on a price. The day we walked away from that the owner of our former home got in touch and said he was thinking about selling and couldn’t imagine it going to anyone else beside us. To make longish story a bit shorter we ended up buying our home back again. It still had all our things which included art, rugs we had gotten on our honeymoon in Morocco, and all the other furnishings.

This all felt surreal, in someways it felt like we had never left. And the only way we could say yes was to see if we could find a way to make it new for us. Our aesthetic from 15 plus years ago had evolved from very eco to more contemporary, kind of the best of new and old. So we set out to recreate the home we initially designed, to renew the place so it could feel like a fresh chapter.

to the garden…

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We finished restoring and redesigning our 1908 home a year ago. This left a hardpacked post construction ground and a rather barren yard and garden. We have spent a lot of time talking to different and really good garden design and installation people over the past year and nothing ever seemed to feel quite right. We knew there was a lot of prep work to do that we didn’t have the inclination to take on all ourselves, so a good team to work with was important.

Two weeks ago, as spring was beginning to bloom here, with no idea how we were going to proceed, we were talking ourselves into another potential summer of unfulfilled garden space. Then a friend came by and she was talking passionately about her own garden and I mentioned our own lack of the right folks to move forward with our space. She lit up and said she had a great local plantswoman and two brothers who did really good garden creation work. I immediately called them and they were both available to come by and have a look at our project. The work we were imagining felt like a good fit for them and us. And we have been off and running.

Now into our second week of work on creating garden beds, amending and tilling the soil, laying out the paths and patio area and we’ve already found plants and six decent size olive trees we have been wanting for our street corner garden location. Anna and I were chuckling yesterday that we never could have imagined or planned for this to all be coming together so seemingly easy now. Yes it took patience, which at times felt really frustrating to not feel like we were making any progress.,

But maybe it’s like that old saying, when the student is ready the teacher appears. I have found this to be the case with almost everything in life. We’ll create some sort of idea or vision of what we’d love to create and keep our eyes and ears open. We will keep exploring possibilities until t something or someone emerges that feels right. And yes, this is often when we are least expecting it.