and dining area in separate buildings — like
camping — until rainy season changed their
minds. After that, they linked the buildings with
a few hallways, the result being a nontraditional
layout that most modern homebuyers “couldn’t
wrap their heads around,” Whitaker says.
The San Francisco newly weds, however,
saw the home’s charms immediately, starting with fireplaces in each of the original
buildings, as well as a fireplace in the master
bedroom that was added in the late 1990s.
Rockers and Sobanski were immediately
taken with the home’s nods to the past, like
the alcove off the dining room where a tiny
kitchen once stood, with an interior window
that looks out on a stone-step hallway — steps
that were, at one time, outdoors.
The dining room also offers a whimsical ode to marriage. At one end of the dining
room there’s a white wooden cabinet with 12
grooves, which once held the original owner’s
extensive rifle collection. At the other end
is a built-in secretary desk, which his wife
demanded in exchange for having to look
at guns at dinner. The cabinet now displays
Polish pottery, reminiscent of Sobanski’s
upbringing in Communist Poland.
The living room is also steeped in history,
with soaring cathedral ceilings, exposed ceiling
beams and wide-planked oak floors. It once held
an enormous, lodge-style fireplace, replaced
years ago. But the 98-inch brick hearth still juts
out about a third of the way across the floor.
If the past is always present here, so too is
a sense of peace. Often the only sounds heard
throughout the ridgetop house are birdsong, providing a respite from the couple’s corporate city
jobs. “Quiet was important to us,” Rockers says.
“ We didn’t want to move to a place just as noisy
as San Francisco.” Nor did they want a cookie-
cutter home. They were willing to wait for, and
fall in love with, something all its own. M
KERRY ROCKERS AND Witek Sobanski had looked at 40 properties when their realtor, Courtney Whitaker, learned something. “We’d already
made several offers,” says Whitaker, “before
Sobanski said, ‘I want something that’s unique
in some way. I don’t know what it is, but I want
something special.’ ”
Hearing this, Whitaker showed the couple a
house atop Miwok Ridge that had been linger-
ing on the market and was slightly out of their
price range. It was also completely unique.
The home, which the couple bought last
February, was built in the 1940s as three sepa-
rate structures. The original owners thought it
would be fun to have the living room, bedroom
They were immediately
taken with the home’s nods to
the past, like the alcove off the
dining room where a tiny
kitchen once stood.