Carmel by the Sea, California was one of America’s first artist colonies and gathered momentum after the 1906 earthquake had many of San Francisco’s artists fleeing to the beauty and inspiration of Carmel. But it wasn’t until 1924 when Hugh Comstock built the above 280 square foot cottage for his wife’s doll collection did the town take on the fairytale feel that it’s known for today.
It’s interesting to note that Comstock had no previous building/architectural experience and used no regular tools while he hand built the cottage. He simply had vision combined with will and away he went. The results were charming and extraordinary which made the other local artists crave the romance and whimsy he had created. After all, artists don’t want to live in boxes – especially not in a sea side forest town. So locals began to ask Comstock to build their houses and he obliged; building dozens of charming homes around Carmel which helped create a feeling of magic that people from around the world now come to see.
Land was originally sold extremely cheaply and homes were built without great expense. Now these homes are worth millions (the average home sale here being about $4 million U.S.) but they began with simple intentions by people who wanted to live somewhere beautiful, have their home reflect their dreams and create a unique way to live and work. A lot of thought when into the design of not only the homes, but the community that lived here, the streets, the shops and the future of the town. Urban planning 1920’s style.
Cottage Living Magazine has a wonderful article on the Comstock cottages – the physical issue has a map so you can talking a walking tour which I highly recommend doing. It might just get you rethinking home design – that character, whimsy and beauty isn’t just for those with A-List architects or bazillions. People once did it with little and it can be done again (for of course a little more!). It just takes an idea, some creativity, and work. But the results? Pretty spectacular I think.
See the Hansel & Gretel Cottages of Carmel California
If you want to see the cottages in person, I’ve written about my favourites places to stay in Carmel from low to high end. And I’ve also written about all the local quicks I learned from having lived there. Like, why there are no street addresses or street lamps.