Thursday, November 30, 2006
It might be assumed that Richard MacDonald, a world-famous local artist, would build his house by the ocean, swaddled in natural beauty, incorporating proud and poetic architecture. One might also expect to see MacDonald’s signature forms, from great sweeps to precise articulations. And these assumptions would be accurate.
Entering MacDonald’s property becomes an integrating experience very quickly, something like the effect his art has on so many. His love of balance and surprise are evident as one walks through the private gate, down a granite driveway and under a four-column arcade toward the front of the property (39 tons of stone used throughout), and by then there’s no turning back. Between the arcade and the house itself, stairs lead to a landing where it’s appropriate to swoon over the sight of a meadow platforming above the ocean. At its edge, a few regal groomed cypress boughs frame the view. In his art or his house, MacDonald does not seek dissonance.
“I loved this property the first time I saw it,” MacDonald says. “In fact, I think I bought it less than an hour later. I really liked seeing Spindrift, one of my favorite places.” Fingers of land spread like an open hand on the water: Spindrift, Point Lobos, Scenic Drive, Pebble Beach, then the hill of Monterey rising beyond, are positioned sequentially from the house.
It’s an atypical Mediterranean due to high-concept design. Frank Lloyd Wright-type windows frame nature throughout the house, with others that are oval or beveled, in various sizes. Windows look across a broad stone terrace to more windows in the kitchen, yet the house has no glass walls. In fact, the entire eastern façade is plain stucco with only two extremely thin, long windows breaking the plane, a gorgeous design decision.
There are 5,000 square feet, four bedrooms, two master suites, three stories, four and a half baths, marvelous open floor space and some triangular beamed ceilings high enough for Cirque de Soleil. Yet the house is mysteriously intimate. That’s especially so on the third story, where the master suite is granted the entire floor, the tower is the bedroom and vice versa.
“The window-set in the master that curves with the tower’s form definitely gives the best view of all,” MacDonald says. “But I could also lie in bed and see the moon passing or the sun rising through the skylight.” (Several custom skylights are set into the Mediterranean tile roof levels.) From the bedroom, the master bath and dressing rooms are reached via an enclosed breezeway with windows that can open wide to see the house below or be shuttered.
On the main level, massive sandstone slabs floor the house from the foyer through the great room, balanced against scaled window-sets and the view. The level below is enormous, filled by another master, bedrooms, public rooms and wine storage. The staircase alone is a masterpiece.
MacDonald’s house contains countless other subtle details—a master bathtub with 20 inches of marble rim and a commode-only room; custom sound and lighting throughout; a six-sided bowl sink of rare beauty; and perhaps MacDonald’s favorite: cast bronze door handles.
As to assumptions about his house, MacDonald says, “I didn’t build it. I found it this way, love at first sight.” His sculpture and paintings show here as if in a gallery—something anyone would rightly assume.
Price: $4,850,000 175 Sonoma Lane, Carmel Highlands. Contact Sharon Swallow, Keller Williams Realty, 622-6245.