Cape Cod charm links the North East with the Far East |

Cape Cod charm links the North East with the Far East

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union

Maybe I’m attracted to the substantial look, or perhaps it’s the split-rail fencing, or the rambling floor plan. On the other hand, it just might be the distinctive red doors that make me look twice.

I was raised on New England family vacations, so when I see a Cape Cod-style home, vivid, happy memories rush to mind.

However, here in Nevada County such homes are a rarity. When I saw that last year’s Music in the Mountains Home Tour featured one, I was elated.

Moreover, the home surpassed my already high expectations. Secretly, I hoped to see it again. When owners Wendy Heaton and Steve Orlik agreed to being interviewed for this article, bingo, I got to see it twice!

Nestled in a quiet pocket of the Banner Lava Cap area, it’s surrounded by woodland. Originally built in the 1960s, it’s undergone major improvements – many since Wendy and Steve purchased the home in 1999.

“It reminded us of my grandmother’s sturdy farmhouse,” Steve recalled, “but it was the rustic 2.5 acres that clinched the deal.”

Its circular driveway was another big draw, as was the “meandering” floor plan. After extensive updating and remodeling, today the home’s 3,200 square foot floor plan includes three bedrooms and two and a half baths. The original unattached garage is now a cozy den, just off the butler’s pantry. Rift and quartered white oak floors add extra hard, durable beauty, offering the perfect backdrop for Steve’s impressive collection of vintage oriental rugs.

Five strategically placed fireplaces, including one in the kitchen, combine intimacy with practical heating.

“It’s a great place to entertain,” Steve added.

The remodeled, arts-and-crafts kitchen with its large, farmhouse sink, soapstone countertops and inset cabinets, would be a pleasure to work in.

His college days included working as a chef in La Jolla restaurants, and he’s glad to put those skills to good use today.

For outside entertaining, the deck has a fire pit and barbecue. With tennis courts and a swimming pool, it has a rustic resort feel, and it’s easy to imagine long, relaxed visits with family and friends.

The home’s quiet energy makes it a good place to work as well. Wendy and Steve both enjoy their offices. Semi-retired Steve manages their rental properties and finances, while Wendy pursues her career as a software company manager.

Victorian, craftsman, and Asian persuasion live in harmony

Wainscot, wingback chairs, corner chairs and antiques add a strong Victorian influence, yet they share space with bold, contemporary furnishings and artwork with Far Eastern flair. The living room fireplace is original, and made of mahogany from Honduras. The artwork is eclectic, and features many local artists.

A tour of this home is full of surprises, including arts-and-crafts furniture and Buddhas. It’s traditional, artistic, and engaging, yet never overwhelming. In fact, some aspects have a playful feel. A visit is a delightful and memorable experience.

If you’re re-thinking your own home’s design, you’ll arrive curious and leave inspired, as well as encouraged to combine influences that create something uniquely you.

The upstairs landing features faux painting with a stenciled motif that looks like wallpaper. It’s bright, restful and unusual.

Steve Lisera gets top marks for his craftsmanship. Steve was also quick to mention, Erickson Construction and Gary Gustavason’s outstanding carpentry skills, as well as Robin Brown.

“Each made a significant contribution to making our house our home,” Steve said.

Every aspect of the home’s interior seems to respect that which is natural – with lots of wood and tile. The butler’s pantry is fashioned after one featured in a 1915 catalog.

The beams in the formal dining room are original, and the den features a redwood ceiling with collar ties. Outside, you’ll see that apple trees from the old, original orchard still occupy a place of pride.

With their affable corgis and Maine coon cat, Steve and Wendy have created a beautiful home and life here in Nevada County.

More than 30 years ago, Steve discovered Nevada City while cycling.

“Its charm made a big impression,” he admitted, “and I was hooked. Wendy and I enjoy skiing, biking, hiking – as well as the four seasons. We both feel that we’re in the perfect area, in our ideal home.”

Courtney Ferguson has written home-and-lifestyle articles for many years, both in Nevada County and in England. Contact her at

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