Wilda Rosene has been chairperson of the San Luis Obispo Rotary Homes of Distinction Tour for five of the tour’s 10 years. In that time, she and her committee have showcased plenty of newly-minted mansions.
This year, the homes on the tour may reflect a subtle shift in the priorities of local homeowners. Three are remodels, including an owner-renovated home. Two were built to meet the needs of families with children, employing functional and clever uses of space. Rosene also made an effort to include homes that used green building practices.
As always, the tour stops encompass a variety of styles, including an English cottage, an Italian country manor, and one with an eclectic fusion of Tudor and Tuscan architecture. Here is a look at the five homes on this year’s tour.
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The San Luis Obispo home of Trees and Tamzin Ritter is an 1918 Craftsman bungalow that was converted into apartments over 60 years ago and subsequently fell into disrepair.
Eager to live near downtown, the Ritters took on the remodel in hopes of creating a functional space for the family of five, while maintaining the historic character of the structure.
The Craftsman qualities of the home come through in details like local river stone masonry, handcrafted wainscoting, and 1920s reproduction fixtures. Modern touches include skylights and large windows for a bright and airy interior. The couple was also careful to use every inch of space wisely, including converting the area under the stairs into a play area for their daughters.
When Donald and Eldra Avery purchased their 1939-built San Luis Obispo home in 1998, they knew it would need some work.
With the help of a dedicated group of friends, the couple set out to transform the home into the Arts and Crafts English cottage they believed it was always meant to be – with a modern twist.
The home was taken down to its studs and reinvented with warm materials including unstained natural wood. Modern elements, including galvanized steel light fixtures, stainless steel appliances and contemporary furnishings, offer an edgy counterpoint to period touches like William and Morris wallpaper, cove ceilings, and Douglas fir wainscoting. Green energy features include solar panels and an” on-demand” water heater.
The home of Ron Brunick is an expansive Mediterranean-style Avila Beach estate that exudes Old World grandeur from its gleaming marble floors to its stately Roman columns. The grand front staircase leads to a lushly landscaped front patio and garden -- a frequent venue for charity events and weddings.
Adding to the home’s connection with the past is Brunick’s collection of gravity-fed gas pumps and vintage cars, displayed in a 1950s themed garage showroom.
Inside, the home is traditionally furnished, but with a cool and comfortable aesthetic that is decidedly contemporary.
Green building methods include burlap and lime plaster used for garden borders.
Tim and Pam Selna were Cal Poly graduates who left the area for jobs in the Bay Area and longed to return to San Luis Obispo to raise their two children. For 18 years, they held on to their Tudor-style, 1970s-built San Luis Obispo home as a rental, before finally making the move in 2006.
A complete remodel of the home, headed up by Tim who is a general contractor, transformed the well-worn rental into a “Tudor-San Luis Obispo-eclectic-Tuscan Villa wanna-be,” according to the couple. The home is also completely solar-powered.
The Selnas merged indoor and outdoor spaces by using multiple patio areas, and enveloped the interior with warm, natural materials like stained concrete floors, limestone counters, and clay-finished kitchen walls. Intricate custom tile work gives the home a sense of luxury.
Richard and Laura Vorie’s custom built home is in the style of an Italian country manor, built to take advantage of the grand views from their hilltop Avila Beach locale.
The home strikes a balance between the rustic and the refined. The exterior features aged stucco, a stone-clad turret, and a sun-washed front courtyard. Inside, the modern, free-flowing floor plan is made inviting with sumptuous fabrics, an earthy color palette, and the use of natural materials like slate, granite and travertine.
The home is given a personalized touch with the work of local artisans. Ken and Sue Jostes rendered trompe l’oeil murals. Phyllis Needleman created custom glasswork. Richard himself hand-forged the wrought iron.