I have long admired this soft-green cottage that blends into it’s oak-shaded lot. The door is arched and planked with large,iron hinges and painted an unexpected bright “poppy” color.
Plants vigorously try to push though the grape stake fence.
I peek over the fence to see potted plants that change with the season.
The current owner has named the cottage “Dormidera” which means drowsy or sleepy.
This house is listed on the Historic Register as the Mary McDowell House but seems to be significant as an example “of the French Eclectic pictorial form in Carmel……and also as the one-time residence of Helmuth Deetjen
and Helen Haight , founders and builders of Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn
on the Big Sur coast”.
Kent Seavey- Preservation Consultant
I pass a colorful rooster guarding the fence,
Open the gate and take my first step on the path.
It is a sunny, warm day but cool in this sun-dappled spot.
I make my way to the front door and ring the bell.
A cobalt blue lantern hangs by the door.
I am greeted by an attractive, cheerful woman and her dog.
I explain I would like to take some shots of her garden for my blog and (this is one of the amazing things about Carmel) she offers to let me take photos inside as well.
When I say “just the garden”, she insists I come inside and sit down while she gets her shoes. Once seated she fills me in on some of the history of the house, then offers a tour and before long my camera is snapping photos of this unique cottage.
She and her husband were the first couple to work with Enid Sales to get this house on the newly created Historic Register.
She leads me down several stairs into what is now the dining room but was a kitchen and bath before they remodeled in 1997.
Her kitchen is a dream with marble countertops
and light pouring in from the large window on the north.
leads out to a deck perched up in the trees.
The bedroom on this floor houses her husband’s handsome desk.
This energetic little dog is our constant companion.
We climb the narrow stairs
to a loft
Which gives me a bird’s-eye view of the living room.
This floor has another bedroom
And bath. Both painted a soft pink.
We head out to the yard. It is an informal setting of oaks, pine and low shrubbery. There is birdsong everywhere.
I climb the stairs to the kitchen entry
and note the skull on the wall
And the knocker on the door- quite a contrast.
Down I go to continue on the path
And down more stairs
To the door of her husband’s workshop.
There are a few adornments.
A small fountain,
A “god’s eye” swaying in the breeze
And a “mirror window” by the back fence.
But , for the most part, nature does her own thing.
Back at City Hall I find the elevations that show the changes made to the exterior
And the floor plan.
What a treat to have this cottage so kindly shared with me.
If you would like to know more about the characteristics of French Eclectic style homes, click on the video
When Bill and I first come to Carmel, Doud Arcade is a home for local craftsmen with studios above and shops below.
This place has been the home of many buildings over the years. It was once the site of the Manzanita club, the main social gathering place in Carmel from 1916-1926.
It was the site of ‘Doc’ Becks’s Drug store built by Hugh Comstock.
The drug store was later demolished and M.J.Murphy built the Doud Building as an altered Spanish Colonial Revival for commercial shops.
A covered arcade, it is a cozy spot to spend time on a cool, rainy Carmel day.
At the Ocean Ave. Entrance is A.W. Shucks oyster bar.
Home of great Bloody Mary’s and Margaritas . Bill and I like to sit at the counter and visit with the cook while we eat steamed artichokes and peel-and-eat prawns.
Lets go in the arcade and do a little shopping.
First up is Kris Kringle of Carmel
Where it has been Christmas every day for over 20 years.
Next is Wicks and Wax
A candle store
Where socks are an art.
With its unique inventory and reasonable prices gets rave reviews on Yelp.
The Carmel Hat Company is one of my favorites.
They carry hats for everyone and Bill and I have hats to prove it.
I love these hats which have a tie (see above the bow) so that I can adjust it to fit my head.
Amelia’s Gifts has just opened. The service is outstanding.
One of the most colorful shops is Nasar Turkish Imports:
I covet the brass and copper for my Carmel kitchen,
Admire the mosaic chandeliers ,
And am intrigued by the Evil Eye Jewelry
The evil eye bead is an amulet that Turkish people believe protects against the evil eye which is a kind of negative power or bad energy. The idea is to protect yourself, your house, business or loved ones. If you want to use it in your house, you should hang it by the front door so visitors can see it.
But my favorite shop is Robin’s Jewelry. Home Page
Robin, with the help of her apprentice Keeza Starr, creates a constant stream of beautiful jewelry using sterling silver, semi-precious gemstones, shells and other natural materials.
These are screenshots of my two favorite pieces. Note that they are reversible. Two for the price of one.
As we talk, Robin
Under the direction of her sidekick
Fashions a magic wand for me!!!
It takes all my self-restraint to keep from waving it at everyone I see on the way home. When my self-restraint fails ,I wave it at customers in Lloyd’s Shoes. Oh dear.
At the back of the Arcade is Artemis Boots
Erkin Demir is an expert on antique carpets and folk arts of the orient and has been in business for twenty years as owner of Sultan House in Istanbul, Turkey. He has worked with the Seattle Design Center and is now opening satellite shops throughout the United States and Europe.
Everyone admires these Suzani’s boots
Named for the Persian word referring to embroidery, Suzani’s are made of velvet, colorfully embroidered by skilled artisans. He converts these beautiful handmade textiles into boots and shoes. His boots are fully lined with goatskin, with a full length zipper for easy wear.
Around the corner is Blackbird with it’s great choice of cards, art, and jewelry.
I love these laundry bags. Send your daughter off to the dorm with one of these.
And at the heart of the Arcade is Carmel Belle
It is a popular spot for breakfast and lunch.
On the way out the side door, admire the carpets.
The Douds are an old Carmel family. Francis Doud was a native of Ireland who came to Monterey in 1845. His son, James, was a prominent Monterey Peninsula real estate developer.
I long for a cottage garden for my little bungalow, Beach Music.
True, I once designed gardens in Kansas City but here the plant palette is completely different. Most of the gardens I designed were on spacious suburban lots or country gardens on acreage.
So I enlist the help of Kathleen Coss Kathleen Coss Landscape Design.
I have seen her work in a friend’s garden and am impressed.
We start the process by e-mail and photos.
Kathleen lives near me so she visits the cottage, sends me an extensive questionnaire to fill out and we start.
We come to Carmel for several weeks so I can join in the fun of creating.
Kathleen takes me to the cottage garden she has designed at Primrose Cottage.
It is April and spring is here. I peek over the garden gate. Oh my, this is what I have in mind for my cottage.
Sweet peas climb the picket fence.
Roses climb the arbor.
We open the gate and walk up to the front door to get permission to take pictures.
The little cottage is trimmed in blue
and the plantings,
And shutters echo the color.
The owner is having coffee with a friend inside the cozy dining room that overlooks the garden. She gives us permission so back down the path we go.
Kathleen leaves and I take my time roaming around.
Flower boxes overflow with ferns, cyclamen,and fuchsia.
Behind the brilliant, purple blooms of Senecio, this sign bids me welcome.
I admire the bird house.
Beside the bench
is a small vignette composed of a bird bath
and the Buddha.
California poppies cheer me.
These garden lights will help one find the path at night.
The hose is neatly tucked away in a hose pot.
I round the circular planting bed in the center of the garden. Boxwood lines the path.
Staked Delphinium will bloom almost all summer in Carmel’s cool climate.
The tuteur is another great focal point
It’s height emphasized by the Calla Lilly planted nearby.
And Myosotis add to the mix.
The small back yard is charming. Why have I not put oilcloth on my table? What an easy way to add color.
Kathleen has designed a raised bed around the space and filled it with shade loving plants.
Time to go. I make my way down the garden path,
close the gate and give a backward glance to Primrose Cottage garden.
“The cottage garden; most for use designed, Yet not of beauty destitute.”
I rarely write about shops not in Carmel but I have to share the Cannery Row Antique Mall with you.
Bill and I discover it while driving around Cannery Row in Monterey. We now make it a regular stop when we are in Carmel.
It is 21,000 sq. ft., has two floors and over 150 dealers who are ready to sell and bargain.
We find a drop leaf table and a book shelf for very reasonable prices. The sales staff makes sure the deal works. They load and they even deliver.
Come shopping with me. I bet you will see something you love.
First make sure you have quarters to feed the meters. We got a ticket while buying our table.
You can see from the exterior that this mall was once The Carmel Canning Company warehouse #2 and is one of the few remaining authentic and unchanged Cannery Row structures from the Steinbeck era. From 1927 until the end of the sardine fishing era, it served to house canning supplies and the finished products on 2 floors.
As you walk in the door
Look to your left and you can still see remnants of the great old conveyer belt that was used for moving crates from one floor to another. The original integrity of the structure is visible with its exposed posts, beams and trusses.“Historic Structure” status was granted in 1994.
It is hard to know where to begin browsing.
To the left
To the right
On the second floor
Or down the middle aisle.
Bill and I separate.
He heads for this woodworking booth
And this booth of nautical items.
I head out for furniture
Such as the blue hutch.
And this one with
With a case of Toby Mugs.
I am drawn to displays of pottery ( my mother-in-law once owned this Franciscan apple pattern).
As I try to decide whether to buy this ceramic covered apple pie saver for $19.00
I am reassured by this sign.
As does this vintage Atlas sewing machine in pink circa 1950’s.
Too bad our grandsons are too old for these toys.
Bill and I arrive at the back of the store at the same time ( a miracle). Carry a cell-phone here, lest you lose you spouse.
We are wowed by this Honduran Mahogany file cabinet built around 1900.
It was owned by Alexander Anderson Jr. who created the cartoon characters of Bullwinkle, Dudley-Do- Wright, Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Crusader Rabbit. What a blast from our past.
But we do not have $7,000.00 or room for this in our tiny bungalow so we are saved from ourselves.
You can be sure we will visit again.
Click here to take your own tour.
It is written that there are a million stories in the Naked City. Carmel, being well clothed and much smaller, still has thousands of wonderful stories to tell. I usually find them when writing about cottages that catch my eye and intrigue me. One such cottage is the Grant Wallace Cottage. I spot it while photographing cottages in the Comstock Historic District and think it is probably a Comstock.
Later I read it was designed by Grant Wallace a noted writer and naturalist. In 1927,he had Jess Nichols build it across the street from Hugh Comstock’s home. It is a wonderfully charming, classic Carmel cottage with the wavy roof shingles.
worked as an artist and reporter for the San Francisco Examiner, an editorial and feature writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, and a war correspondent for the Evening Bulletin in Japan and China. He wrote short stories and screen plays, including for two black and white silent movies: the story for A Blowout at Santa Banana (1914), and the scenario for the movieThe Fuel of Life (1917).
He also lectured on the occult.
After World War I, Wallace builds the small cabin in the forest near Carmel, California, which he uses as a laboratory for experimenting with telepathy, which he sometimes refers to as “mental radio.” He makes hundreds of drawings, charts, diagrams, and writings, attempting to reveal the patterns of life, including reincarnation, communication with intelligent life on other planets, and with dead spirits.
He writes about messages from the dead, from ancient Greeks, ancient Egyptians,Vikings, and Atlanteans, to more recent dead, such as Thomas Jefferson and Charles Darwin, and transcribes messages from and draws pictures of extraterrestrial life, especially from the Pleiades star cluster.
After he dies August 12, 1954, in Berkeley, California, These images, and literally hundreds more, are discovered by a relative of Wallace’s in the abandoned cabin. They are the result of Wallace’s private research (circa 1920s) into the worlds of philosophy, metaphysics and cosmology.
“His artistic approach to unraveling the mysteries of the world is very science-based, as if his graphs and charts were done to represent some kind of scientific research. Many of his works integrate the universe, human body and other dimensional qualities of existence such as ego, id, et al. Wallace also made a lot of side citations and notes all over his work, hinting at a secretive formulas and ciphers. Very fascinating work”
And why, you may ask, do I care?
Because I find that the home he built in Carmel is listed with vrbo.com , a “for rent by owners” sight.
I have watched many wonderful exterior improvements being made on this cottage. It was really coming along when I took the photo in January 2009.
Look at it now. The plantings have matured.
The following photos of the interior are provided by the owners.
Beautiful restoration of the living room , keeping the vintage details.
And a lovely private patio.
This cottage is now in the heart of Carmel, but at the time it was built it might have been the “cabin in the woods”.
Wouldn’t Grant Wallace be surprised by what his cottage looks like now?
Rental rules are very strict in Carmel and they state:
“In order to preserve Carmel-by-the-Sea’s residential character, no home or subordinate unit may be rented for less than 30 consecutive days.”
For such a young community, founded in 1902 and incorporated in 1916, Carmel has a rich legacy of historic properties and works hard to preserve them.
Much of the credit for this goes to the now deceased Enid Sales.
Enid was already a legend when we moved to Carmel in 1997 . It was a prosperous time and many who had “struck gold” in the dot-com bubble were eager to build a second home in lovely Carmel, just down Highway One. Homes were being torn down right and left and expanded and remodeled for the new owners.
Enid settled in Carmel in 1988, but fought most of her battles to preserve the remnants of Carmel’s architectural beauties and historic past during the last ten years of her life- from 1998 -2008.
This quote from Roberta Miller sums it up ,“Enid was a woman of substance. An extraordinary woman. She cut a colorful swath. The first woman in the state to pass the test for a contractor’s license, a well-known preservationist and advocate, who helped characterize and shape the modern movement for historic preservation. Her career spanned more than 50 years. She was hard working, courageous, controversial, authentic, mysterious, independent, determined, resolute, tenacious, a cut above, a force to be reckoned with and never took her eye off the prize – the need to preserve the historic buildings of the past for future generations to enjoy and appreciate as part of their collective heritage.
The saying, ‘actions speak louder than words’, certainly applied to Enid Sales. In Carmel, Enid was known for her fierce advocacy for the preservation of arts and crafts cottages and her willingness to resort to lawsuits when all else failed. A warrior, ready to do battle and steadfast in her resolve.”
Sales was the first chairwoman of the city’s Historic Resources Board and undertook an analysis of what is historic in the city.
I have no doubt that because of Enid’s battles, I am able to photograph many of the Comstock Cottages that I share with you.
And it is to the credit of the current owners of those Comstock treasures, that they are restoring the homes.
Abbey Baker Design Build helped the owners of The Comstock Home restore their home.
Curtain Call would surly have been demolished if its owner, Stephanie Kirz , had not asked that is be considered as a historical resource.
When it passed all the requirements, she painstakingly restored it with the help of Abbey Baker Design Build.
Dear little Hansel
was carefully restored by his owners with the help of Brian Congleton.
“Enid never had any problem telling people off if that’s what was needed to get it done. She told the city off; she told mayors off; she told me off,” said architect Brian Congleton , one of her friends. “She’d throw anyone necessary under the bus to get the job done.”
Roger and Kathy Sanger write “ We are the present owners of ‘Fables’. We bought it in 2010. It has had many owners over the years and was,regrettably, not well cared for.
We decided to renovate it without changing its historical character as a cottage”. One of Fables former owners was Apple CEO,John Sculley.
And so Fables has restored,original windows, new roof, updated electrical , plumbing, and floors.
They continue, “ It is great to see so many Comstock owners restoring these treasures to their former glory. We appreciate the attention that people have paid to this part of Carmel history”.
Douglas Johnson writes of his Comstock home on Carmel Point, “Donna and I own this home and spent several years restoring it..”
I blogged about this home in June 2011 after I discovered it was indeed a Comstock. I find in The Pine Cone that it is again for sale. What a wonderful restoration the Johnson’s did while keeping the exterior look the same with all the charm of the 1930’s home.
For the last blog, I snuck around the house taking pictures. This is certainly a more restful way to show you the house.
Even though I was not sure, this charm spoke of Hugh Comstock.
Now there is a 2 car garage with guest house above.
Lets walk around the outside.
I love the patio.
Entering the house,
the living room is to the left.
The board and batten , beamed ceiling is lovely and look at the shape of the door openings.
Then down the hall to the east wing
which has 2 bedrooms
And a bath.
The guest quarters also has 2 bedrooms
Walk around the corner to Carmel River State Beach
And admire the view of Point Lobos.
Asking price: $3,295,000
Carmel, California is considered to be one of the most dog friendly cities in the entire world.
Of course the “off leash” beach is a big draw
and the chance to mingle with friends.
Many dogs work in the shops.
I see them everywhere
They stroll down Ocean Ave.
Or are even pushed by their owners in strollers
Sometimes they are required to attend social events so their owners can show them off.
Or have birthday parties
Photo courtesy of