Correction: An earlier version of this story listed the incorrect builder for The Ranch House. Anne Fortini is owner-builder for the project.
The 14th annual Rotary Homes of Distinction Tour offers guests a broad range of home styles, along with a dose of the unexpected. That’s the tour’s appeal, says chairperson, Wilda Rosene: the opportunity to “see other people’s homes that they would never get to see otherwise.”
This year’s tour features five homes in San Luis Obispo and Arroyo Grande. Here is an overview of those homes.
Never miss a local story.
Architect: Marcus des Plantes
General contractor: Erich Schaefer
Interior designers: Anne Fortini and Jan Kepler
Landscaping: Paradise Enviornments
The Dyke family purchased 600 acres in Huasna Valley in 1977. They raised cattle on the ranch and raised their family in a small home on the property that they added onto over time.
When widower Skip Dyke married Betsy Kiser six years ago, they decided it was time for a fresh start. In 2010, they demolished the old home and built a new 3,600-square-foot, two-story home that Kiser calls “Craftsman style with ranch undertones.” Both she and Dyke like the organic feel of Craftsman homes and incorporated abundant wood, stone and earthy colors. They also like the simplicity and sturdiness of Craftsman design, which can “withstand the wear and tear associated with ranch life,” she said.
They decorated with a mix of vintage, antique and contemporary pieces. For example, the centerpiece of the dining room is an heirloom mahogany dining table that accommodates 20 when fully extended. The adjacent entryway and parlor are all very contemporary. Additionally, both vintage and modern artwork share wall space in the home. “Because the home is new, the modern bathrooms, kitchen, office and utility room allow the two styles — vintage and modern — to interface with little conflict,” Kiser explained.
Architect: Jim Duffy
General contractor: Semmes & Co. Builders
Landscape architect: Chris Manning
Landscape installation: Selna Construction
By the time Robert and Betsy Wilson set about updating their Arroyo Grande home, they had several remodeling projects under their belt. “We knew what we liked,” said Betsy.
They created a highly individualized space with artful details. They added 1,750 square feet to the house — enough “for the entire family to be present at once,” said Betsy. The house now has seven bedrooms and five bathrooms, with a total of 4,250 square feet of space.
The older portion of the house was restyled. While it all remains true to the French provincial architectural style of the original house, the revamped space has more modern leanings.
The Wilsons believe that working with local artisans creates a more artful and interesting space. In particular, they incorporated custom glass, because “we feel (it) reflects our personalities and brings a different level of light and color throughout the house,” said Betsy.
Custom glass pieces include etched glass images of the Mariner deep space probe and Apollo spacecraft in the great room, which are “nods to the fact that we were kids of the ’60s,” said Betsy. There are art glass eyebrow windows with a modern water motif, and stained glass cupboard fronts in the kitchen depicting flowers from “the eight countries which are our combined family’s ancestry,” she said.
RICHARDSON HOME1213 Nipomo St., San Luis Obispo
Architect: Steve Gaffney
Builder: Mangano Homes
Interior designer: Kelli Thornton, Celadon House
Chris Richardson was the real estate broker for the recently completed Marsh Street Commons, a multiuse complex that includes single-family detached homes, commercial retail space and condominiums.
He became sold on the idea of living in downtown San Luis Obispo, so he purchased one of the homes for himself.
Though the house is just 1,600 square feet, it feels more spacious due to 10-foot high ceilings and large windows.
Richardson chose almost all interior finishes for the three-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom home, with the help of Kelli Thornton of Celadon House. Upgraded features include marble countertops, subway tile in the master bathroom, custom paint colors and a slate-covered patio.
Thornton helped pull together a decorating style that Richardson calls “contemporary with a comfortable feel.” This includes clean-lined furniture in neutral hues, rich textures and minimal adornments.
The downtown lifestyle has been a good fit for Richardson. “I enjoy the energy of the downtown,” he said. “The atmosphere of our neighborhood is fun and inclusive.”
THE RANCH HOUSE2060 Biddle Ranch Road, San Luis Obispo
Interior designer/project manager: Anne Fortini
Landscape architects: Ryan Fortini and Matt Cathey of Fortini Landscapes
The Ranch House at Biddle Ranch Vineyard gives guests the chance to get a closeup look at a working vineyard. It is a vacation rental that sits among 23 acres of chardonnay vines, and is used for everything from family vacations to corporate retreats.
The single-level, ranch-style house was originally located in downtown San Luis Obispo. It was moved to its current location in the 1970s. The five local investors who own the vineyard wanted to transform it into a Napa-style retreat that blends rustic wine country style with amenities befitting a boutique hotel.
One of those investors is interior designer Anne Fortini. She applied her skills to a one-year transformation of the 2,500-square foot, four-bedroom house.
Fortini calls the look of the house “urban barn” style, mixing rustic elements with mid-century modern pieces. There are the usual luxuries — fine linens, plush seating, and modern kitchen amenities. But to honor the agrarian environment of the Ranch House, Fortini included timeworn and weathered pieces including salvaged materials. Interior doors, ceilings and baseboards were built from old horse pasture fencing.
Outdoor fencing was made from scaffolding planks, given a wirebrushed finish. Planter boxes were fashioned from old fruit bins.
GARCIA-BJERRE HOME990 Hidden Springs Road, San Luis Obispo
Architect: Bruce Fraser
General contractor: Bob O’Keefe, Mid Coast Builders
Landscape architect: Debbie Black
Local Realtors Debbie Garcia and David Bjerre have seen their fair share of homes. They poured that expertise into their own Tuscan-style residence.
Their primary goal was to take advantage of its picturesque Edna Valley location. They accomplished this with large windows and multiple French doors leading to an outdoor living space that includes a patio, large swimming pool, barbecue area, and spa. All this is encircled by lush tropical and Mediterranean landscaping.
The home itself is a sizeable 5,500 square feet. It is warm and earthy, while at the same time elegant. The décor is “very Old World Tuscany,” said Garcia.
Creating a backdrop for their gracious Old World furnishings are rich, natural materials such as marble surrounds on fireplaces and Santos mahogany floors.
The Biblical stone for their patio was shipped all the way from Jerusalem.
The house is family-friendly and also equipped for entertaining. The kitchen is large with multiple prep areas, three ovens, and three dishwashers.
“Every wedding, every baby shower, every rehearsal dinner in the family is here now,” said Garcia. “The house is formal, but also very lived in.”