The Frank Lloyd Wright Walker House in Carmel, California, aka the ultimate coastal cottage, just sold for $22 million dollars.
Seaside: Frank Lloyd Wright Walker House
Surprisingly, Frank Lloyd Wright has only one project built on the seashore. It is even more remarkable that it is sited on Carmel Point in Carmel-by-the-Sea. With a ship’s prow reaching out to the ocean, a stepped down tiered copper tile roof, burnished green by the weather, this glass and Carmel stone home has become a local landmark. I had photographed the exterior of the Frank Lloyd Wright Walker House several times for my books, but in 2016 I had the opportunity to photograph the interior and had access to the lights and property to allow me to take some evening shots.
Considering her coastal lot “the most dramatic one on the Pacific Coast,” Della Walker purchased the Carmel Point property from her sister and brother-in-law, who had obtained it from Carmel’s original developer, J. F. Devendorf and the Carmel Development Co. Originally marketed as an intellectual vacation retreat for Bay Area academics, Carmel had become an art enclave by the late 1940s when Della Walker (widow of Clinton Walker and family members behind the Walker Art Museum in Minneapolis) sought to build her own cottage. Feeling the finest lot deserved the best architect, she wrote to Frank Lloyd Wright.
“As durable as the rocks and as transparent as the waves,” is how Della Walker phrased her vision for the home to the architect. In the photo above you can see the hexagonal main living area. The framed windows offer the transparency requested, stepping out to follow the lines of the prow-shaped stone. Carmel stone, a local material quarried near the old Mission, provides the durable strength. The color, Cherokee Red, is used frequently by Frank Lloyd Wright. The sculpture, Undine, was commissioned by Della Walker for that location.
Originally the Frank Lloyd Wright Walker House was just 1,200 square-feet. (An addition to expand the primary bedroom extended it to 1,400 square-feet.) The home maximizes the use of the space through built-in furniture and tables built in modules that can be rearranged, as the hexagonal coffee table in the foreground and the dining table to the right placed against the built-in seats. The views to the sea are mesmerizing, and to the south look to Point Lobos and to the north, Pebble Beach.
In this photo I am looking back toward the entry. The walk-in fireplace is along an interior wall. You can see the continuation of the built-in seating and a built-in desk. The wood is cedar, and the floors concrete in the same Cherokee Red.
In the plans, Wright called out the kitchen as “workspace.” This kitchen is larger than some of the kitchens in Frank Lloyd Wright homes I have photographed—he dedicated very little space for storage and food preparation. The galley kitchen wraps around to another entrance from the hallway. The door leading to the exterior became quite a contentious issue in the design process.
The primary bedroom was expanded after Mr. Wright’s passing. The fireplace is an addition, and the extra space was desired for crafts and art projects.
The home has three bedrooms, and this is a detail of one of the guest rooms. The built-in furniture and wardrobes are very typical of Frank Lloyd Wright designs. Bedrooms are small and efficient like staterooms on a ship.
The home remained in the family until a sale last week when it reportedly sold for $22 million. I did the math and with 1,400 square-feet, that’s $15,714 per square-foot. Location and an exquisite design are certainly a tribute to Della Walker’s taste.
The Journal of Organic Architecture + Design just dedicated an entire issue to the Walker House, and I found Kathryn Smith’s article most interesting and useful in relaying this story to you.
See more stories on the Frank Lloyd Wright Walker House here.