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March 25, 2018 / Linda Hartong


Its defining characteristic might best be described as the kind of house you’d imagine Seven Dwarves or some happy Hobbits heading home to at the end of a hard day of work. I see them all over Carmel (not the hobbits, the houses)  but have never really thought about examining the parts that make up the whole.


“Lilacs and Laughter” is one such cottage.

I pass it often and try to get a decent photo. I am either too late in the morning or too early in the evening and the harsh light wipes out the details.

Plus the owners’ landscaping is thriving and even when I poke my camera through the gate , I can only see parts of this boxwood garden.

Then a huge winter storm blows through and plantings suffer and the clean up is a photographers dream come true. Now I can see so much more of this little house.

 I am not sure if the name is new or if the vines just covered it up before.

 I take my shots and am pleased. Then I find a website called  Storybookers. com.            

What a wonderful resource for those of us who love these whimsical houses with towers and turrets.

I begin to look at “Lilacs and Laugher” in a whole new way. I start at the chimney and work my way down the house.

Yes that chimney is oversized for the house- definitely adding some charm.

The roof has so many storybook details and must have cost a small fortune. It is swaybacked and irregularly shingled with an eyebrow window and clipped gables.

The stucco looks like it has roughly trowled and that wood trim detailing is known as decorative half timbering. At one time this was the real timbering of the house left exposed and stuccoed in between. There was no insulation.

The casement windows are trimmed with the half timbering.

There is the darling little turret with its peaked roof line.

The front door is rounded at the top. This is one of my favorite hall-marks.

And that fence with its stone base, ironwork and wood detail is really icing on the cake. I see no others like it in Carmel.

  Year Built:  1992 MLS#:  81122659 and he includes some photos of the interior and the back deck.

I love the timbering on the ceiling, the shelf for books,

and the wavy stone on the fireplace.

There are two bedrooms.

The irregular ceiling  in this bedroom is just charming.

Check out this kitchen with the stone floor, rounded door openings and great cabinet details.

The cottage is on a slope so the upper deck

looks down on a sweet patio.



February 25, 2018 / Linda Hartong


If a Clint Eastwood “sighting” is important to you, this is the place you will have the most luck. Try coming to the piano bar late in the evening and you may be treated to hearing this talented musician join in with bar patrons. If not, you will at least meet some of the locals who frequent the bar and love to sing , drink and talk.

Clint bought the  ranch in 1986, rescuing it from an impending fate as a condominium development.

The Mission Ranch has a rich history. In the 1850’s William Curtis bought the property for $300.00 and it became one of the first of the early California dairies. Century-old eucalyptus trees greet your arrival. You can see them here towering over The Bunkhouse which is the oldest structure on the Ranch and is now one of the unique buildings where guests can stay.

The Farmhouse is one of my favorite structures. Look at the upper story. That was once the main building. It was raised and the first floor and wonderful porch were added in 1896.

Honeymoon Cottage has these inviting rocking chairs.

When Clint renovated the buildings he sought out the best craftsman who could replicate moldings, door frames, and hardware to match the original style.

The restaurant

with its fabulous view of the Santa Lucia mountains,

the ocean,sunsets and the meadow filled with sheep,

was once the creamery.

Fireplaces, the piano bar, comfortable seating and great food greet you. Bill and I split the Prime Rib. We also love to go to the Jazz Brunch on Sundays and sit outside for that view.

This year the sheep were about ready to lamb and everyone was excited about it.

 More guest buildings are nestled among the trees and gardens.


The Inn now consists of 31 hotel rooms located within ten buildings on the property where the barns were once used for hay and milking.

This property is also home of the Mission Ranch Tennis and Fitness Club which guests can use during their stay.

The Mission Ranch is located at

26270 Dolores Street
Carmel, CA 93923-9215
(800) 538-8221

February 7, 2018 / Linda Hartong

Belle Charmante- Once Owned by Clint Eastwood

Belle Charmante ( translated pretty charming) caught my camera lens in August 2012. August is a prime month to admire flower gardens in Carmel and this front garden was a riot of blooms.

Belle Charmonte

Bill and I toured this home when it was on the market and were told it was once the home of Clint Eastwood. Hooray, I saved the listing that makes this claim.



The architecture is not typical Carmel. We climbed a winding spiral staircase to the top floor. We wondered how to take furniture up and down those stairs.

The gate proclaims it was built in 1929.

Belle Charmonte

Belle Charmonte

Agapanthus soars over the unique garden fence.

Belle Charmonte

Hmm! I must have been experimenting with shooting through the fence at the time. Not my best work.

Belle Charmonte

Belle Charmonte

There is a sweet patio in front with a colorful view.

Belle Charmonte

Belle Charmonte


Belle Charmonte


Belle Charmonte

Acanthus and hydrangea

Belle Charmonte

and Cuphea .

Belle Charmonte

What a show

Around the corner and home again.

Belle Charmonte

Margaret Robinson reads this post and points out that Clint may have bought this home for his Mother and then his Mother and Stepfather who lived in the home for a long time.

Thanks Margaret!

January 23, 2018 / Linda Hartong

West Meade Two

In 1927, a residence was built for Theo and Daisy Forest. They purchased two lots on Lincoln Street and built a home and a guest house for about $4,000.00.

West Meade

Municipal codes changed and in 1974 the owners wishing to sell the lots individually were informed that when divided, the smaller lot could no longer be used for residential purposes. This could not have been good news. The value diminished considerably when two homes became one.

West Meade

Bill and I notice the home for sale and in 2012, this beauty is built. West Meade Two is a charmer.  The owners do smashing landscaping

West Meade

This gate on the side beckons. What lies beyond?

West Meade

By the summer of 2013, the landscape is in full bloom and compliments the architecture. I particularly love the area by the front door.

west meade

Look at the details of the stonework around the window. Hydrangea and alstroemeria provide vivid color.

west meade

A topiary shrub marks the corner and the use of ground covers soften the stone.

west meade

I step onto the porch and ring the bell. No one home but what a great view of the side garden.

West Meade

The path winds through fern and begonia and through an iron gate.

West Meade


west meade


west meade


west meade


west meade

and Hydrangea line the way.

west meade

Looks like the guest house survived after all.

West Meade

And how charming it is.

west meade

Back up and out. Don’t you love the two urns?

West Meade

January 11, 2018 / Linda Hartong

Penny Lane

House of Hearts

In my last post, I featured Las Campanas with its ornamental rabbit theme.

Penny Lane has taken the theme of hearts.

I watched this house being renovated in 2013 and stopped to peek over the fence.


I loved the little sign that announced that a spoiled rotten Norfolk Terrier lived there.


My last stop in November showed the terrier was still in residence. How those hydrangeas have grown.


The owners designed an unusual gate and the “heart” theme is immediately noted.


These industrial bolts are striking.


Let the theme begin!


The heart stepping stones curve toward the front door.


The stones are placed with ground cover.


This is what those innocent plantings look like 4 years later!


I curve past the white bench.


This heart is tucked into more ground cover.


I head toward the front door.


And pass a striking window box.



On to the front porch where another window box catches my eye.



Time to retreat.


Past the trellis with roses growing on it.



Toward the angel hanging on the tree.



Almost there when this statue catches my eye.



Still more colorful surprises.


Pink dahlias,


Trumpet flower




and hydrangea bloom.


What a treat to visit Penny Lane

December 13, 2017 / Linda Hartong

Through The Garden Gate

“When I walk through that gate…that’s my escape.” – Maria Sharapova

Carmel Cottages are special for many reasons. But one that always pleases me is the way the fence, gate, and front garden present the house as a bit of a refuge from the world outside that fence. They create a threshold from a semipublic world to the semiprivate world of the owner.

I Live To garden


The more recent trend has been to find privacy with a large yard, the better to not see into the neighbors’ homes or hear their noises. I have plenty of this kind of privacy in my Kansas City home and have designed these front landscapes for others when I did landscape design.  Yes, the lots are large but visually anything but private. Walking by the homes, one sees the whole home and yard in one glance. There is no sense of mystery or discovery.

When did it become desirable to have lots of green grass manicured to perfection? Very high maintenance and costly.  Jonathan Engels observes

“While nobody is suggesting that we inherently begin detesting grass, growing it on the scale we do and with all that effort to keep it cleanly cut, fertilized and free of weeds, i.e. natural biodiversity, is proving a huge burden on the planet, its animals (who aren’t allowed to graze on lawns), and the people so determined to have a perfectly picturesque front garden. Amazingly, we have found a way to both destroy the environment and ruin animal habitat, all the while giving ourselves heaps of work without any real return on the effort.”

Carmel encourages the front garden as an alternative and a pretty one it is.

Fences of grape stake ,





Carmel 2009 089

and stone


Carmel August 2009 007 HDR_2

Carmel 162531

mark the boundary.

Gates swing open to provide a peek



Plantings soften the home beyond.


IMG_0179house of roses

Chez Lo


Maison de Belle

December 4, 2017 / Linda Hartong

Hearts and Flowers

Hearts and Flowers is a great example of curb appeal.The architecture is not as fanciful as that of many Carmel cottages. It could just be a small ranch home were it not for the loving touches the owners have added.

Hearts and flowers

The gate is set in a stone arbor that frames a colorful window with its plant shelf.

Hearts and flowers

An old bell hangs in the arbor

hearts and flowers

and this wonderful mailbox hangs on the gate.


It was once a Carmel custom to have a box with paper and pencil on the gate or by the door so visitors could leave a message when they called.

The gate swings open to reveal such fun colors. The yellow house is trimmed in blue and has a red door.

Hearts and Flowers

The brick of the patio is an intricate design.


A Tate-A-Tate bench adds interest.


About a year ago I noticed the owners were making major changes and repairs to their little home and I held my breath. Would it lose its charm in the process?

NO!  The little home once again shows loving touches. It is now an eye-catching green.

Hearts and flowers

Flowers hang over the garage and the driveway is pavers and planting.

Hearts and flowers

The front door welcomes visitors with a wreath, welcome mat, planted bicycle and pumpkin.

Hearts and flowers

I love the new sign. “Welcome, where have you been?”

Hearts and flowers

The gate is still cleverly done.

Hearts and flowers

The bell survived

Hearts and flowers

But the mailbox is replaced by a bicycle planter.And at night small lights brighten the arch.

Hearts and flowers

Such a colorful, welcoming house. It is almost always occupied when we are in Carmel.

Hearts and Flowers

November 18, 2017 / Linda Hartong

The Cottage Garden at 5 Casanova Street

Over the past 20 years, we have seen many changes in Carmel. Shops and restaurants come and go. Mayors come and go. And cottages change owners and personalities.

One of my favorite homes is 5 Casanova St. which I blogged about in 2012.

I hang over their gate countless times because this garden is breathtaking in every season.

5 Casanova

In August 2007, hydrangea, alstroemeria, lilies, and fuchsia bloom exuberantly.

5 Cassanova

In May 2008, salvia, roses and foxglove wow me.

5 Cassavoa

October 2009 It is utterly charming.

5 Casanova

June 2011 still has me snapping pics.

5 Cassanova

So on our trip last week, I prepare to see my garden again.

5 Cassavoa


I AM IN MOURNING. The house is being remodeled and so is my garden. A new roof is going on but it looks like the path is being rerouted.

I will keep you posted. Sometimes change is a good thing.

November 14, 2017 / Linda Hartong

Maison Rustique

Maison Rustique first caught my eye in 2007.


What a charming home set behind its grape stake fence and Carmel Stone arch. So, of course, I walked closer.

Maison Rustique

Yellow roses bloomed over the gate and I was smitten.

Carmel 162501

I loved the huge window and the front dutch door with its arched top.

Carmel 1625011

Tres charming.

This trip, I revisit the cottage.


Still charming.

Maison Rustique

I peek over the side fence and see the path winding through a tiny garden.

I read at one time that this was being rented but could not find that again.

More random photos from Carmel

October 27, 2017 / Linda Hartong

Random Photos from Tales From Carmel

There were so many photos that I loved but could not work into a complete post. I have to share them with you little by little. Hope you enjoy Maison de Belle