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My Hygge House Wanderlust

Carmel California Flat

May 11, 2008

I had been living in Santa Monica and was between contract gigs when I decided to take a road trip north to San Francisco to visit friends.

My big dog Jack was with me and when we got to Carmel by the Sea, I was tired so I checked into The Cypress hotel for the night.

Little did I know it would change my life for the next six months.

The hotel is co-owned by Doris Day, who is a huge animal advocate. So her hotel is beyond dog friendly as is the whole town really. I found this out during cocktail hour in which Jack and I sat in the lobby and chatted with guests and the other co-owner.

I told him what I did, the burn out I was facing, and the need for a creative re-charge. I was in luck, he said. He had just finished renovating a condo across the street from the hotel, and why don’t I take it?

I said yes on the spot and about two weeks later and two days before Christmas, I moved into a 2 bedroom, 1 bath condo with an ocean view.

On paper, it all seemed perfect – cosy flat, charming town, nature. However, there turned out to be a lot of challenges I wasn’t prepared for.

There was charming aspects to it; walking around a pretty little village sparked the imagination. Being part of nature every day and walking to my secret beach was healing. Being in this area felt special and surreal. I loved having tea in my little kitchen and listening to the ocean waves crash. I spent every day walking my dog to the beach and just taking it all in.

But living in Carmel has a lot of quirks from how the post office works to how there’s no addresses on the houses to the fact there’s no streetlights and things all close at 6PM.

In the winter, most guest houses are bare and tourists are few so it feels fairly isolated. There’s a lot of storms and the winter in which I stayed had a record number of them both in frequency and severity.

In February I ended up working with Apple and being based in Cork, Ireland for a bit. When I came back to my flat in Carmel, my entrance (which was a balcony over the side of the building on the second story) was reduced to a single plank. When I went inside, my living room and kitchen windows were boarded and the floors had been torn up. Apparently, there had been such a severe storm that it damaged the walkway and roof (and had even totally transformed the beach!).

This provided too many challenges because I couldn’t get Jack to walk easily on the plank – especially late at night when I’d have to take him out for his business. The constant construction workers were loud distractions that made working hard. And having boarded windows that blocked the world was too much.

My landlord let me move into a suite into the hotel which was also both charming and irritating. Charming because the room was lovely and I felt a bit like Eloise. Plus, room service, But irritating because I’d constantly be going back and forth to my flat for clothes and food.

Being in Carmel, I felt so isolated and frustrated that I ended up leaving after 4 months.

I was asked by Apartment Therapy, San Francisco to do a home tour of my Carmel by home and had mixed feelings. Partly because I hadn’t taken that many photos and partly because when I exited it, it wasn’t in great shape and nor was I. But I wound up saying yes because it was a hygge home, I did find some creative spark which personally and professional lead to great things and in the end there was more charm than harm.

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