Mission meets flea market: A Laguna home’s amusing mix
Outside the 1929 Spanish Colonial home, a bright green 1940s bike serves as a mailbox. The couple’s mission-meets-flea-market mash-up has its roots in Mark Evans’ youth. As a teenager growing up in Pico Rivera in the early 1970s, Mark would often hitchhike down to Laguna Beach to explore the picturesque artists colony. “I would marvel at the beauty of the geography,” he says. “But I was just as impressed with the architecture and beauty of the art colony atmosphere. I couldn’t get over the feel of Laguna and its people. It just seemed like they were living in a beautiful art scene that they were appreciating in real time.”
“I love the peaceful feel you get whenever you walk through a mission,” says Mark Evans, pictured here with his dogs. “It is completely different from anywhere else.” In 1999, he and wife Cindy realized their dream of living in Laguna when a rundown Spanish Revival home came on the market. The house came with an interesting history: Architect Aubrey St. Clair designed it for the Bird family, who owned the White House, one of Laguna’s early restaurants. The couple heard that “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” author Ken Kesey rented the home at one time, and that fellow counterculture figure Timothy Leary was rumored to have lived across the street.
Equally novel was the home’s layout. False walls had been installed throughout the home to create a makeshift boarding house. Most of the rooms appeared to have been partitioned and rented out, including a dining room and balcony where a bathroom had been added. But the house never lost its great bones.
Today, rooms are loaded with concrete revival statues, Dia de los Muertos figurines and Mexican serapes and sombreros, but the house doesn’t feel crowded. It is, in fact, quite comfortable and cozy. “You can put your feet up,” Mark Evans says. “I like my house to feel like a den everywhere.” Theodore Jackman’s 1924 painting titled “Santa Barbara Fiesta” hangs over the fireplace. Evans found the painting lodged above a stack of Barbie dolls in an Arizona antique mall. “You have to look up, ” he offers. “Because no one else will ever notice it.”
Mark and Cindy Evans in their living room with dogs Maud and Junior.
The home’s cozy, airy feel is partly due to the home’s glorious sightlines — views of the ocean and the dramatic garden Mark has cultivated over the years.
“It’s so fun. It’s like fishing,” Mark says of their antiquing. “And we can always trade out. Flea market vendors are precious people that you get to know over the years. Most of them have a particular area of expertise, and they usually don’t mind telling you the story behind their offerings.”
“Doesn’t everyone need a 3-foot-tall painting of the Virgin Mary in their house?” Cindy asks. Responds Mark: “Marys are never very pretty. We bought that one at the Long Beach flea market because she is good-looking.” They purchased the painting not knowing where it would go in the house. “We buy things because we love them,” Mark says.
An antique guitar found at a local swap meet hangs in the living room.
The kitchen is a warm and delightful hommage to Cindy’s Mexican grandmother: green ceramic tile counters, bright red refrigerator, Mexican pavers and colorful Mexican pottery. Among the surprises: beer trays from the 1940s nailed to some of the cabinet fronts.