Jonathan and Holly Lindenthaler took what could be called the “three bears” approach to finding the right house.
Their San Luis Obispo family home of 23 years, which architect Jonathan had designed and built, was simply too big once their children had moved out. They moved into a condominium for six years, which proved to be a bit too small — and not conducive to their needs.
“We realized we really preferred more privacy, solitude, and a stable neighborhood,” Holly explained.
Then, in 2008, they happened upon the open house of a residence overlooking Laguna Lake.
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It dawned on them that this house was just right — well, almost.
“Inside, it was the most ugly house we’d ever seen, but with the most wonderful view,” Holly said.
Jonathan was game for a new project, so the couple purchased the 1970s-built, 1,700-square-foot house. They started demolition the day they closed escrow.
With the help of contractors, Jonathan almost completely gutted the house. They replaced portions of the ceilings and walls, as well as all windows, doors, cabinets, countertops, flooring and bathroom fixtures.
They built a conversation area onto the rear of the house, adding 100 square feet to their living room. Its vaulted pine ceiling adds a feeling of spaciousness.
“The cathedral ceiling reminds us of a temple or church with the altar being the serene lake view,” Jonathan said.
Previous owners had enclosed the foyer and clad it in Astroturf. To create a more inviting entryway, the Lindenthalers installed new decking, a new ceiling with a skylight, and new walls. New contemporary doors — both leading to the foyer and to the main house — were designed and built by Jonathan. With the addition of rattan and bamboo furniture, houseplants and Asian accents, the space is now a comfortable and serene sitting area.
The couple had parted with many of their possessions before moving into their condominium and purchased very few items for their lakeside home.
“We are both neatniks and so we continually de-clutter and try to keep the focus on the artwork and the gorgeous lake view,” said Holly, who, like Jon-athan, believes that their streamlined living space complements the home’s quiet, zen-like setting.
Jonathan built a few pieces of furniture with simple lines, including a red-tiled cabinet in the living room, numerous steel, wood and tile tables throughout the house, as well as a coffee table for their conversation nook that was designed specifically for the spot and built with leftover wood and tile from the remodel.
The couple mixed furniture of different styles and eras. In the living room, for instance, among contemporary tables and chairs is a blue velvet Victorian-style sofa inherited from Holly’s grandmother. The piece was picked up at an estate sale around 60 years ago, and is rumored to have once belonged to John Barrymore.
The Lindenthalers had long ago parted with many of their home accessories — with a few exceptions. They have a small collection of locally painted watercolors, so they made sure their remodeled home would have ample wall space to display them. They chose hardwood flooring to showcase their collection of rugs.
To maintain an uncluttered look, Jonathan carefully considered storage, especially in the kitchen.
“In the small condo kitchen we had to store some items in the garage,” he said. “So with this remodel I wanted to make sure we had plenty of space in the kitchen and so I designed it to include 22 drawers that are much more efficient than shelves.”
The remodel wrapped up in just five months, and the Lindenthalers moved into it in February 2009. They have taken well to their new lakeside lifestyle. They have planted a garden and fruit trees, bought a sailboat, and frequently entertain.
“Our home is a wonderful spot to meditate and just soak in the good vibes of life,” Holly summed up.
Rebecca Juretic is a freelance writer who lives in San Luis Obispo.