Catching up with Ketchikan |

Catching up with Ketchikan

The Caverlys imported plenty of Nevada County expertise to create their stylish, rustic home in Ketchikan.
John Hart | The Union

More fishing and less summer heat sums up Ketchikan’s appeal for former Grass Valley residents Bob and Cindy Caverly.

They purchased a little less than an acre right on the waterfront — one of the few remaining parcels — and planned their 3,500-square-foot craftsman-style, three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom home.

“We sold our 300-acre Triple C Ranch in Grass Valley and swapped hunting for wild pig and turkey for a new and different lifestyle — one that now includes fishing in the salmon capital of the world. We live on a cove where there is an abundance of marine life. I can fish from our dock or sail farther out for halibut and red snapper. We can see killer whales, humpback whales, dolphins, seals and otters from our deck,” Bob said enthusiastically. “In fact, Cindy’s goal this summer is to learn how to operate a small fishing vessel.”

“Since Bob’s quite a cook,” Cindy added, “we get to enjoy the catch of the day for dinner. Family and friends from Nevada County are welcome, frequent guests. We’re glad those connections remain active.”

Local contractors Erin Miller and Bob Pitzer combined their talents during the construction phase. For Nevada City interior designer Guidita Soldavini, however, this marked the third home she’s designed for the Caverlys.

“Their three-story home in Auburn was my first professional assignment in the early 1990s,” Guidita recalled. “Its size alone made it quite a challenge. Having a client rely on me for three residences truly is an honor. Since each home’s location and style has varied, I’ve had to be both practical and creative.”

(Guidita’s own ‘bridge’ home in Nevada City has been on the Music in the Mountains Home Tour, as well as the subject of newspaper and magazine articles. It’s also been featured on an HGTV home show.)

A different kettle of fish!

Both Bob and Cindy are outdoor enthusiasts who share a love of the sea. That’s why Guidita recommended continuing the dramatic seascape inside. Minimum window treatments make the most of the stunning views as well as the natural privacy. Three shades of Valspar’s Secret Moss paint with buttercream accents enhance the connection between inside and out, creating calmness and serenity. Carefully placed, modern fish artifacts tastefully complement the marine theme. The taupe-stained plank wood flooring adds an elegant, earthy simplicity, creating a spacious, open feel.

“Bob, in particular, really liked what we’d done in their previous homes,” Guidita told me. “Frankly, he did not warm to the idea of taupe floors at first. Patience and tenacity prevailed, however, and now he’s delighted. The trick is to remember that some aspects of a previous home just don’t translate into a new environment, regardless of how much we like them. Inevitably, one change creates more. To be able to welcome change and keep an open mind in a new home is a good attitude to have.”

The custom-built kitchen and bathroom cabinets are made of alder. To add to their character, Guidita recommended putting feet on some to make them look like pieces of furniture. Speaking of furniture, much of it came from Scandinavian Designs in Roseville, and required shipment by boat.

‘What’s that fish doing

in my laundry room?’

One touch that made me smile was the laundry/fish room.

“Here’s where Bob cleans and prepares the fish he’s caught,” Cindy explained. “He has his designated space, and I have mine for doing the laundry. It actually works quite well.”

The home also encompasses two separate suites, so there’s plenty of comfort and privacy.

The cedar exterior is rustic, and the steep roof is vital when the temperatures drop, and the snow gets thick. Since Ketchikan gets approximately 150 inches of rain per year, rain water is collected and used.

With a population of little more than 8,000, the transition has been absorbing. Bob and Cindy’s hiking, kayaking and zip lining activities are helping them meet their new neighbors, while they get involved with their new community and lifestyle. Nevada County beckons, however, and their plans include another seasonal residence here soon. Talk about the best of both worlds!

Although I was not able to actually visit the Caverlys’ Alaskan home, writing about it was easy. Their enthusiasm, photographs, and Guidita Soldavini’s descriptions painted an intriguing, detailed picture. I learned a lot about a very different lifestyle — and, once again, I was reminded of the outstanding expertise we have right here in Nevada County.

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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