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Raising the roof

Meadow Vista home remodel creates high ceilings, adds whimsy
By: Jane Rounsaville, Special to Gold Country Home & Garden
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Tucked into a serene foothill neighborhood, David Whittet’s house blends in with everyone else’s. Inside, however, is a celebration of color, shapes and sunlight. There’s a wall clock made with multi-colored numbers formed from bits of brightly painted clay. A mirror is actually a stand-in illusion box. A set of stairs has family names hidden within colorful painted retro shapes. A bouncy hammock swing for the grandkids is suspended from the living room ceiling. These are just a few of the whimsical handmade touches throughout his Meadow Vista home. Home makeovers are nothing new for the Whittet family. “We have remodeled various houses,” David said recently. “The family has been in construction and housing for a long, long time. All of us have gotten involved in it at one time or another.” Some of their subdivisions won awards, he added. “He was pretty much an innovator,” Whittet’s his son, Michael, said. “He would put a lot of greenbelts in the subdivisions. He made them real people friendly way back when, before it was fashionable to do that.” David and his late wife, Tish, purchased the Meadow Vista house as a remodeling project. A retired planning consultant and architect, David had done a similar project in Santa Barbara. “I did not have a whole lot of time to help them day in and day out,” Michael recalled. “But whenever he needed help, I would zip over there and help him do something.” Michael particularly remembers lending a hand with the large, heavy objects like beams and rafters. The home’s original English country cottage design felt more cramped than cozy. So, the Whittets raised the ceilings from 8 feet to 14 feet, and transformed the small, dark kitchen, living room, nook and entryway into a spacious 28-feet by 32-feet great room. David wanted to let as much natural light as possible into the home, so he opened up the porch, then added a patio and trellis to the front of the house. “We changed it completely,” he said. “It did not take advantage of the sun as it could have. The whole south side of it, especially the living room, and about half of the house, was changed to open up to the sun.” The Whittets also converted the garage into an art studio, and replaced the garage doors with glass sliders. These days, David prefers to spend most of his time there. “There was always some kind of art project going on in our house,” David’s daughter, Lisa, said. Her father’s life revolves around his creativity and his sculpture, and “that’s where he really shines,” she said. “At my age and being retired, that is a good way to pass my time,” David explained. “So I enjoy getting down there and working. I usually have a couple of classes that I attend, and some of them involve working on projects in the studio.” He has taken several classes at Placer School for Adults in Auburn “Dave always comes in with the most amazing and wonderful things — he is so talented,” said Linda Pietz, art instructor at the school. “He’s always learning new things. He is really an inspiration to me. I hope that when I am his age, I will be as sharp and creative as he is. Many people, after a point, just sort of give up, and don’t try to push themselves. I love the fact that Dave is constantly challenging himself.” Lisa agrees. “He does definitely have a very creative side to him that shows, whether it’s the architecture or sculpture,” she said.