Cheryl Lindheimer had a long-standing dream of building a beautiful house. The dream became reality recently, and she showed a visitor through the completed Victorian-style residence she had built in the Naples area of Long Beach.
She created the architectural design and worked daily with her contractor. She also learned to use a lathe, router, band saw and other tools so that she could make the ornamental "gingerbread" that is one of the glories of that architectural style.
The house, painted a grayish blue with white trim, is set back from the walkway along the Rivo Alto Canal.
Vehicle access is from Naples Lane, behind the house. The setback allows a trim front yard and across the walk a bricked patio at the edge of the canal, above the private boat dock.
Concerned About Style
"When I started the project in 1985," Lindheimer said, "I was concerned that the style would not blend in with the community. I was afraid it would get negative attention.
"However, quite the opposite has happened. There isn't a day that the house doesn't receive compliments. I have received unsolicited offers to buy it. Some want to purchase the plans."
The living room overlooks the canal and has a fireplace with a carved wood mantel. It also contains a raised dining area and a stairway to the second floor. The rest of the ground floor contains a large family room-kitchen, a small bedroom and bath, another stairway and a two-car garage.
Deck Overlooks Canal
Upstairs are two large bedrooms, each with a bath, the upper landings of both stairways and, in front, a sun deck overlooking the canal.
Door knobs, chandeliers and kitchen and bathroom fixtures are modern replicas of Victorian fixtures, done in brass.
Why did Lindheimer feel she had to make her own gingerbread? She showed her visitor pieces of sawed fretwork and said, "I ordered these from a place that makes this Victorian-type of stuff. They're awful! The wood's no good and the work is crude."
That was when she started buying woodworking tools and learning to use them.
Lindheimer is a certified public accountant in Rosemead and the mother of three adult sons and a daughter. She and her husband live in Arcadia.
She praised her general contractor, Clarence Paskiewicz, owner of Horizon Contracting in Long Beach. "The two of us worked seven days a week for almost two years tearing down the old house on the site and rebuilding," she said. "He put in many, many extra hours on the project and never charged me for it."
The design procedure was unorthodox. At the start, she said, she knew nothing about Victorian design. She researched in libraries, bookstores and at Victorian houses in Southern California and in San Francisco, making copious notes and taking many pictures. Then she started designing.
The Naples lot contained a house built in the 1920s, one story high in front and two in back. The front of that house had to be torn down but Lindheimer and Paskiewicz incorporated most of the back part and the foundation into their new structure.
'No Formal Drawings'
"We worked together to refine my original design which, by the way, was just drawn on scratch paper," she said. "We had no formal drawings from which to work."
Where formal plans were necessary, as for getting permits, they were prepared from her sketches by the Signal Hill structural engineering firm of Borm Associates.
Lindheimer said it would be nearly impossible to estimate the cost of the completed house. But a person kowledgeable about real estate in the area said the property could not possibly be worth less than $500,000.
What does she want to do next?
"Sell it and build another!" she said.