Mother Earth Living


A Good Home: A California Couple Find Their Dream Home

A couple of California retirees lift bales and mix up plaster for a home so warm and nurturing that they rarely want to leave.



Much of the natural southwestern landscape was left intact as Susan and Saul Frommer planned their home on this property.
Bright morning sunlight streams through a living room window, casting a bold geometric pattern on the acid-stained concrete floor. The window ledge holds a Miwok tribe (central California) cooking basket, resting on a traditional Navajo rug.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEPHEN DABROWSKI
Susan’s handmade tiles decorate the base of the walls in the common areas.
A large bank of windows washes the dining room in sunlight during winter and fall afternoons. At night, carefully placed lights create a soft glow on the clay walls. The room is furnished with an old Spanish-style dining set and curio cabinet, which is set into a recess in a lime-washed wall. The recess’s interior was washed with lime colored with Venetian red and French yellow natural mineral ochres.
Says Susan of their California setting: “The whole reason we’re up here is for the natural beauty, so why scrape it all away?”
The living room is designed to accommodate a large gathering of friends yet has comfortable corners where individuals or couples can relax, chat, or read. Susan weaves textiles on the loom in the corner.
The Frommers collected this old African milk jug on one of their many trips. It is graced by intricate beadwork and still carries the faint scent of smoke from years of use in the vicinity of a cooking fire.
Susan calls this guest bedroom “the cave” because it offers a cozy, nurturing feeling that offsets the large, open spaces in the rest of the house. In the evening, guests can open the window to the patio to enjoy the cool breeze, gentle splashing of the fountain, and the flowering epiphyllum cacti. The handmade cradle and pine chest belonged to Susan’s mother. Susan’s great uncle made the bows in the corner. She used them as a child but won’t risk stringing them now because of their age and frailty.
Susan and Saul Frommer spent many hours completing their home. The interior perimeter walls are straw bale coated with plaster, while the interior partition walls are a homemade lime plaster mixture coated with white lime wash.
For much of the year, the Frommers and their friends take every meal possible on the front patio, under the portal. Here, they can enjoy the pleasant climate and a view of Susan’s lovely gardens and the oak-covered hills beyond.
Bright morning sunlight streams through a living room window, casting a bold geometric pattern on the acid-stained concrete floor. The window ledge holds a Miwok tribe (central California) cooking basket, resting on a traditional Navajo rug.
Susan and Saul relax in the natural terrain surrounding their California home.
Bright morning sunlight streams through a living room window, casting a bold geometric pattern on the acid-stained concrete floor. The window ledge holds a Miwok tribe (central California) cooking basket, resting on a traditional Navajo rug.
The front of the house features a portal, a Mexican/Southwest version of a logia or portico, which runs along its entire length. It encloses a patio surfaced with adobe pavers and native rock, a Mediterranean-style fountain, and a large collection of cacti, succulents, and other plants.





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