Knowing what you don’t want to end up with can be a perfectly fine place to start. While rebuilding the Carmel home she’d lived in for more than a decade, Diane Franich knew she wanted something as far removed from the original design as possible.
“There were no southern or eastern windows,” Franich said. “So there was never enough natural light.”
A full-scale rebuild fulfilled in 2014 wiped away the previous sins. Designer David Wilday and engineer Michael Martin erected two buildings that frame striking views of the surrounding landscape. Both structures employ an octagonal design, which provides an abundance of exterior access, and and all three bedrooms contain en-suite bathrooms. Sprawling decks and covered patios increase indoor-outdoor livability, and an arched stairway connects both buildings.
Franich formerly remodeled homes in Aptos and Carmel Valley, however 520 Loma Alta Road marks her first rebuild. She can’t recall a time in her life when she wasn’t interested in reconfiguring her room or trying to get the most out of a space. Her previous homes required various upgrades, nevertheless, so much was wrong with Loma Alta Road that attempts to salvage the original structure would have been pointless.
Mold that thrived in the dank, underwhelming design was banished as aerated concrete, slate and oversize windows fashioned a new home.
Franich and her boyfriend at the time lived in an Airstream trailer during the new construction. Though luxurious, the trailer’s cramped quarters reaffirmed her desire to live in a home with plenty of natural light and easy outdoor access.
“Cabin fever really set in, so I wanted porches as big and wide as I could imagine,” Franich said.
Radial ceilings with exposed beams employ skylights, eliminating the need for artificial light during the day. The top floor of the larger octagon hosts a great room with clerestory windows and a tile floor with decorative inlay. Lath and plaster walls lend additional texture to the space and underscore Franich’s commitment to using quality finishes.
“This style is a more labor-intensive process but offers better-looking results,” she said. “Other plasters have plastics in them that tend to crack and look awful.”
Apparently, the centerpiece of the great room resides in the kitchen, where a slab of California walnut tops the bar of a terraced center island. Custom cabinetry provides a wealth of storage, and top-tier appliances assist chefs of all skill levels.
Granite showers, walnut vanities and African teak finishes embellish the property’s five total bathrooms.
Both structures sit atop a level portion of the 5-acre lot. Franich removed eucalyptus and invasive French broom plants that were peppering the landscape. Removing weeds and nonnative plants created substantial room for the existing pine and oak trees to thrive.
“The lot looks a lot more Californian now,” Franich said.
Trails meandering across the sloping terrain around the home offers Franich’s dogs ample room to explore when they tag along for a hike.
A vase-shaped outdoor fireplace made of stacked stone accompanies a brick patio that’s surrounded by vibrant flowers. Lush gardens dominate the landscape immediately surrounding both structures and boast a blend of grasses, drought-tolerant plantings, river stones, concrete and a rich palette of colors.
Moreover, an eight-sided wooden deck provides dramatic views of the surrounding woodlands, as well as the shimmering bay in the distance. Arranging the deck’s redwood beams in a concentric patters fashions a striking visual display as ripples in a pond.