Home & Garden

Scaling up, sizing down

Carol and Saul Goldberg's home in Avila. 
photo by Jayson Mellom 10-25-10
Carol and Saul Goldberg's home in Avila. photo by Jayson Mellom 10-25-10

Like many retirees, Saul and Carol Goldberg downsized by moving into a mobile home. But theirs was no typical mobile home park.

Located in Avila Beach’s San Luis Bay Estates, Indian Hill is an upscale community of manufactured homes. Residents own their lots and a homeowners association oversees the type of mobile homes allowed there.

“They’re pretty strict about color, style, size, and how it looks,” said Saul.

The quarter-acre lot that the Goldbergs purchased in 2007 backs to green space and offers views of rolling hills, oaks, creeks and canyons. While making plans for a new home, they lived temporarily in an old mobile home on the property that they eventually donated to a family in Mexico.

The couple chose to work with Silvercrest, a mobile home manufacturer in Corona, California.

“I started with a standard model and spent about three months modifying it to our specifications,” said Saul, who taught electrical engineering at Cal Poly for 35 years. Carol is a retired accountant and homemaker.

The model they chose was about 2,200 square feet and included two bedrooms and two bathrooms. They chose a simple, contemporary exterior that reminded them of the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Their modifications added 500 square feet and an additional bathroom.

They altered the layout of the main living area so that the entryway would have an unobstructed sightline to oak trees behind the house. They widened the hallway and modified the layout of the master suite. The pantry, laundry room, and the master bathroom shower were all expanded.

Although the Goldbergs chose to have some finish work completed after the home was in place, they did order several upgrades.

“We took everything we could from the manufacturer, because it’s more economical that way,” said Saul.

They visited the Silvercrest headquarters to look at model homes, which helped them choose features like crown moldings and a tray ceiling in the den. They ordered a built-in bookcase and cabinetry for the den as well as built-in desks in one of the bedrooms that they planned to use as a home office.

Saul completed most of the designs on a computer program. He consulted a friend, architect George Pudlo, who made further suggestions. Silvercrest had the final say.

“If something wasn’t structurally sound or couldn’t be done, they told me,” he said.

When the home was delivered in early 2008, they moved to a rental and hired contractors, primarily found on Craigslist.

“We didn’t know how else to look for contractors,” said Saul. “We did a search, had them come out to give bids, then checked their references and made our choices.”

Contractors added finishing touches to the home that Silvercrest couldn’t offer. They installed 20 Solatube lights for added brightness. They laid the hickory floor and installed travertine in the bathrooms. They applied a hand-troweled drywall texture and painted the walls. The Goldbergs also had an 860-square-foot attached garage built, along with two decks.

The Goldbergs gave away or sold nearly all of the furniture from the San Luis Obispo home they had lived in for almost 40 years. The only pieces they kept were Carol’s grand piano, and the bedroom and dining room sets that were gifts from Saul’s sister.

“We never in our married life bought everything new,” said Saul. “You get a hand me down here, a hand me down there – and you end up with a hodgepodge of stuff.”

Their former home was traditional in style. This time the Goldbergs opted for a more contemporary look. Many pieces were purchased at contemporary San Francisco furniture store Room & Board.

“We wanted everything to be very clean and modern,” said Saul.

The Goldbergs finally moved into their custom mobile home in May of 2008. For both, it was a dream come true.

“When I saw the lot the first time, I just fell in love with the trees and had a vision of how living here would be,” said Carol. “The house is everything I envisioned.”

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