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An exclusive private ranch community just minutes from downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea and the Pacific Ocean is the idyllic setting for this Hacienda-style home that embodies a charming story and lifestyle.  

BY CHRISTY NIELSON | PHOTOGRAPHY BY MATT WALLA

Featured image: The Spanish Colonial Hacienda-style home is designed in a U-shape plan. The walled auto court, featuring rustic wooden entry gates, offers privacy. 

The 20,000-acre Santa Lucia Preserve, located just minutes from downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea, looks as much like a national park as an upscale ranching community.  In partnership with the Santa Lucia Conservancy and nearly 300 member families, The Preserve takes a gentle approach to development, focusing on protecting, maintaining and enhancing the natural resources and wildlife while at the same time respecting the historical and cultural significance of the setting, which dates back to the indigenous Rumsen tribe. 

RIGHT: The home sits on a prominent lot that is within sight of the centerpiece of the Santa Lucia Preserve: a Hacienda that was part of the inspiration for the home’s architectural style.
LEFT: Ecological preservation is the ethos at The Preserve, and homes harmonize with the natural setting where valley oak trees and California live oaks are predominate.

The Preserve immediately felt like home for a couple who lived in another house in the development before finding the perfect lot upon which to build their dream home.  “It is such a beautiful, special place, filled with people that we have grown very close to,” the husband says of the couple’s affinity for The Preserve.  “Emotionally and spiritually, it has afforded us a lifestyle that is really unique and suits us very well.”  He adds, “Our home is an adjunct to the emotional attachment that we have to The Preserve.” 

The 6,900-square-foot custom home, which sits on 55 acres, was designed by Marc Appleton, Senior Partner at Appleton Partners LLP.  It was built in keeping with a fictional backstory conceived by the owners and design team, which grounds the residence in the rich history of  The Preserve. 

The pass-through and doorway from the living and dining rooms offer a peek into the beautiful and functional kitchen that opens up to a comfortable den with vistas of The Preserve, a charming combination area that is the heart of the home for the couple.

“The concept—or conceit if you will—was that the home was built around a pre-existing stone cabin that had been here for hundreds of years,” explains Appleton of the made-up story that inspired the design.  “It’s a fantasy that works really well and added a really nice dimension to the house.” 

Buff-colored Santa Barbara sandstone encases the warm, texture-filled room that replicates the “cabin” in the imagined story and comprises the inviting living and dining rooms. Weighty concrete headers made to look like beams sit atop the windows and doorways in the stone room.  Arched doorways typical of the Hacienda vernacular are featured throughout the rest of the home.

All of the wood—hefty beams, rustic paneled ceilings and rich oak flooring—is salvaged, with the exception of the doors, which were built from oak slabs on the property.  The beams, a key feature in the stone room, are applied in other areas of the house—including the bedrooms, family room, kitchen and study—to create cohesiveness.  The double-studded, thick plaster walls are another nod to the Hacienda style. 

Each of the homeowners has a corner desk in the inviting office that features an impressive collection of Western art and books. Leather Britannica Chairs by JJ Custom Workroom feature tight backs with fanlight details, as well as double-needled and nail-head detail.

There are not a lot of embellishments throughout the residence.  It is all about the beauty of the place and the serenity of the architecture, according to interior designer Randy Patton of Patton Design Studio.  “The materials are rather calm, natural and not heavy-finished,” explains Patton.  “There’s a very subtle level of color, which creates a sense that the home blends into the landscape and sits there quietly to celebrate the setting.” 

The design was planned to accommodate the owner’s curated collection of Western art and Colonial-Spanish furniture, including a massive carved antique buffet made of reclaimed mesquite wood that stands proudly in the living room.  An ornate mesquite headboard and Dutch leather-clad nightstands with nail-head trim punctuate the space in the primary bedroom.  The fine antique rugs throughout the home—including in the main bedroom—were collected over time and establish the tone for the serene interior design decisions.  In the living room, the muted hues of the rug are drawn forward by the palette of the pillows upholstered in early 20th-century African ewe cloth and piled atop the comfortable chenille couches, amplifying the colors of the fine yarn. 

The study, which features a fireplace adorned with reclaimed glazed terracotta Spanish roof tiles as well as an iron screen hand-hammered by a local artisan-blacksmith, features bronze sculptures from celebrated Western artist, Jim Reno, and books from the owners’ library.  The same artist who made the fireplace screens also created a remarkable iron stair railing with bronze accents that acknowledges the home’s lush setting.  

“The home has an eclectic blend of styles that reflects the traveling lifestyle of ranch and homeowners of an earlier era that really plays into the historical spirit of the architectural story,” says Patton.  “The owners have some wonderful collections, and it made for a very personal project when it was done.” 

The concept of the Hacienda-style house started with this stone room, which was designed to look like an old homestead structure that had been here for hundreds of years and was added onto to make it livable.

Steel doors from the living room flow freely to the outdoor living area, complete with a stone fireplace and comfortable seating for drinking in a warm cup of coffee or buttery chardonnay along with the spectacular setting.  Additional seating in the courtyard is serenaded by the tranquil sounds of a bubbling water feature crafted out of an antique European vessel the homeowners found at a favorite Carmel shop.  In the distance, sculptures of a mare and her foal—created out of driftwood prevalent on the California coast and commissioned by the homeowners to replicate two of their own horses—graze in the meadow. 

The stair railing is a work of art designed by Alan Drew, a rancher and artisan blacksmith, that pays homage to the home’s wooded setting with bronze-tipped tree branches. American flag artwork by Sticks Object Art and Furniture.

The owners have two actual horses at The Preserve’s fully-staffed equestrian center that includes two arenas for those who enjoy a little cow work—something the wife has been involved with since growing up on a working ranch in Washington state.  One hundred miles of trails in the development that meander through coastal wilderness for infinite outdoor experiences. 

RIGHT: The peaceful primary bedroom opens to a rear deck, an intimate space that connects to the courtyard and looks out over the forested zone. Ornate reclaimed mesquite headboard by Tabor & Co.
LEFT: Sunlight casts a warm glow on the bleached-driftwood horse sculptures by artist James Doran-Webb that graze in the meadow and are visible from nearly every room in the house. Leagrave Luxe Lounge Chairs by Restoration Hardware.

“The very first time we drove through the gate of  The Preserve, it was almost like being back on the ranch that I grew up on; it was as if we had come full circle,” says the wife.  “I started my life living on a ranch, and now we get to enjoy our retirement years living that same life, touching the earth in a powerful way that The Preserve offers us.  It feels like a gift.”

ARCHITECT

Appleton Partners LLP

INTERIOR DESIGNER

Patton Design Studio

BUILDER

R. Wallis Construction Co.