The Most Amazing Beach House in the World: The Butterfly House

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I was in Carmel last week, and I saw The Butterfly House, probably the most amazing beach house in the world. The Butterfly House is one of only five or six truly beach-front properties in Carmel and on beautiful Scenic Drive. (I’m posting way more from Carmel and Pebble Beach, so stay tuned.) And in Carmel I learned that Dick Cheney seriously looked at buying this house at one time as a second home!

The Butterfly house is so named because it was built in 1950 right on one-half acre of rocky Pacific cliffs outside Carmel to mimic a butterfly or, more likely, a seabird. It offers a near transparent view of the sea from almost every angle. The original architect and owner was Frank Wynkoop. The roof of the home and a window on the ocean side were built at a steep angle to deflect wind and water — the northern coast of California gets an “Irene-like” beating sometimes, too.  It was always an architectural stunner, though locals predicted it wouldn’t stay on it’s rocky perch for long. Well, guess what? Sixty years and one amazing renovation later –  by the original architect’s sons –  the Butterfly House was bolted 6 feet deep into the rock and remains more than ever one of the most amazing homes in the U.S.

The renovation and updating could not have been more sensitive, and the home has been restored to its historic mid century origins, with the exception of the kidney-shaped pool, which was filled in by previous owners. (The home has only had three owners in those 61 years). The home and restoration project is featured on the cover of Trends Magazine.  Click here to read more about current home owner Joe Walter and architects Thor and Ian Wynkoop, children of the original architect, on page 38. The story is fascinating. The home was re-conditioned and spiffed up, secured and restored: for example, the cantilevered west deck and lights under were repaired to illuminate the surf at night. The tar roof was replaced with a pebble roof. The home was an open-space plan around a swimming pool courtyard — when the buried kidney pool was too damaged to restore, a new rectangle pool was constructed with a black plaster interior that reflects the sky and maintains heat.

My favorite part is how a built-in sunken bench in the living room was unearthed by the sons, and restored. They recalled sitting on that bench for hours as children, watching the surf.

The Butterfly House now has four bedroom suites instead of the original five bedrooms, plus an office, is only 3,041-square-feet, but looks larger because of the lines. It is anchored into California’s rocky northern California Pacific shoreline and has panoramic views from Point Lobos to Pebble Beach, where Concours De Elegance takes place every August. The home is within a good, healthy walking distance of  Carmel-By-The-Sea. As I found out, walking hills out there leaves you a lot more breathless when you are from the flatlands!

Mike Canning of Carmel Realty Co. has the listing. Price, oh God, did you have to ask? $19.2 million. That’s all. But you might want to be forewarnd: locals tell me that it sits above the Kelp and Sewer beds, where kale and seaweed on the beach sometimes decompose and smell. Guess that makes beach walks very romatic!