By Ron Donoho • Photography by Martin Mann
Best Of Both Worlds
This roomy Cardiff-are home is country style, but with an ocean view...
JIM WOODS DREAMT of own-ing a large country property that also came with an ocean view. Easier imagined than procured, especially during the last de-cade's go-go, boom years of real estate.
The president of L.H. Woods & Sons (a general engineering contract company) was ready to move from Fallbrook back in 2000.
"But that was back during the boom, when every listing was gobbled up in seven days," says Woods.
He found a 1.4-acre plot of land for sale above Cardiff. It was a pile of dirt, but when he stood atop it he could see white water in the Pacific.
He made an offer, but was too late. Nearly half a year later, though, he noticed that the tech executive who'd beaten him to the punch was changing job locations. Woods put in another bid, and this time he (literally) hit pay dirt.
For a variety of reasons, construction on the home didn't start until 2008. Woods finally moved in on February 4, 2011, a date he remembers distinctly because it's his birthday.
"The ultimate goal was to have a country home unique to the area," says Woods. "We're a close drive to Cardiff. And I didn't want to be cramped, so I have the ability to store a lot of things. It's a relatively large home, but it doesn't feel large when you live here."
The total project is 12,000 square feet under roof. The home is divided into different quadrants. The main living area is 7,800 square feet. There's also a 1,200-square-foot structure that can house an RV and lots of other mechanical, big-boy toys; a garage (1,000 square feet); and a 750-square-foot guesthouse.
Woods made the decision not to cut any corners during the build out. He hired architect Paul Olson. "He's extremely talented, but his designs are not cost effective," says Woods. "They're artistic designs; he does all his architectural drawings by hand."
The home is built with natural products; nothing is faux. The floor, for example, is Phoenician, first-cut Medieval limestone (600-year-old rock from Cyprus).
Finishes touches around the home are artisan inspired. All the ironwork on outdoor balconies is hand-hammered. Woods also hired local custom coppersmith Hans Liebscher to add to the ornamentation of the exterior.
"Hans added things like waterspouts that are shaped as dragons," says Woods. "He contributed what essentially is the jewelry of the exterior."
Don't let images of copper dragon spouts lead you to believe that this house is a museum where whispering is de rigueur and no fun is allowed. Au contraire.
A pair of college-age sons and a teenage daughter enliven the scene. There are also two four-legged inhabitants: a Ridgeback named Reef and Woods' daughter's Old English bulldog, Daisy.
Reef and Daisy have taken over what the architect designed as a mud room. The tradespeople who worked on the home redubbed the room "The Dog Spa."
Witness the colorful and circular fish tank as you enter the front door. The tank sits right off the kitchen, which is equipped with a restaurant-sized pizza oven.
There's also a home theater that can be dressed by lights in a rainbow of colors, an outdoor water system that flows from a natural rock streambed, hot tub, pool (with underwater stereo system) and a courtyard highlighted by a horseshoes pit.
"You can have all different kinds of parties here — swim parties, barbecue parties with horseshoes tournaments, you name it," says Woods. "People have said it's like a Tuscan village here; an entertaining place."
Woods happily claims that the sunsets over the water are amazing. And all was definitely worth the wait.