It felt like the world had no end from the patio of my grandmother’s house, we called her “Wacket.” The adobe house with a red tile roof sat on a rolling West Texas hill. Her carefree nature empowered me and endless fields to roam gave me a sense of adventure. Now forty years later and after spending two decades helping people realize their architectural dreams, I am channeling her free spirit and mimicking the red tile roof on a hilltop with views to the Pacific Ocean soon to be called “Casa Blanca.” Watch me from Heaven Wacket, it’s going to be fun!
This adventure is not about creating another project, it is a personal accomplishment and story of overcoming fear and the power of human connection. Two failed costly architectural attempts left me doubting myself and mistrusting those I needed to help me get a design into the permitting process. Prayers, patience, and a special Texas client put me back in the saddle designing my California dream. This client introduced me to James Newhall Smith, an incredibly talented architect whose kind heart, cheerful nature, and love for food…my way to keep him at his computer screen for long hours, turned my dream into an architectural reality. On a side note, our efforts working on her Pacific Grove home won us a design award this summer.
Although James and I completed my home design and navigated design board approval reviews to submit the custom home to Monterey County, neither of us saw potential hold-ups due to a bitter protester followed by COVID. My carefree spirit took a dive and doubt had me willing to sell the lot and give up on the ocean views. Humbled and feeling broken, it was hard to see my dream fleeting and marked “for sale.” Looking back I believe God closed doors to open ones more powerful. The time my lot was listed and not selling brought me numerous residential building projects that indirectly trained me for the task of building mine, not to mention the life lessons preparing me for emotional growth to approach the project with ease.
This old Oak tree stands on the highest point of the lot. James and I added windows along the staircase in the twenty-two-foot entry to incorporate it into the design. Oak trees symbolize longevity, strength, stability, endurance, fertility, power, justice, and honesty. What I find with design is that one’s mindset in the process often resonates with the ambiance of the completed design. Casa Blanca will showcase my love for nature, building with quality and timeless style with mindful architecture. From remodeling my 1927 Spanish Colonial home “Casa de la Palmera” twice to having it written up as “the charm of Pebble Beach” in Baron’s Magazine, I am proudly aware great design is a mark we leave that stands the test of time. I want Casa Blanca to continue to give to others long after my time as Casa de la Palmera gave to me.
The permitting process is finally wrapping up and the first meeting to break ground has me feeling empowered, grounded, and focused on using this amazing opportunity to step into a new chapter of life. A new home marks a new beginning and an awesome opportunity to forgive the past, embrace the process, and look forward to the future. Although design is often a superficial means to create change, I intend to use it to expand my talent, collaborative opportunity for human connection, and symbol of reward for resiliency. Life has an interesting way of pushing you at the start of a challenge to have you circle back to the past. This home is being built on solid rock, and it’s my time to focus on strong foundations. Thanks, Wacket for inspiring me, your spirit lives on. I am grateful for this adventure and a family that let the West Texas lessons lead me to California landmarks. Lots of love and excitement will be shared during the process, Casa Blanca is in 3D above but not for long! Rendering team, please have an Aston Martin appear in my drive when complete.