Once a year, we open our house and grounds to the public to benefit The Kings River Conservancy (www.kingsriverconservancy.org), whose mission is to get people off their screens and their couches and out of their hectic live and into Nature. To that end the non-profit works to provide safe, clean, legal access to the Kings River which originates in Kings Canyon National Park and flows past The Lapp RiverHouse through Fresno and Kings Counties. We have a couple bands, a barbeque and beer, wine, and soda for sale down on the lawn, and kayaking safety paddle demonstrations, fly fishing demos, sometimes we have plein air painters and fishermen tying flies. Babies dance, people chill, some wander up to the overlook to see the wildflowers; the sheep and llamas get a lot of attention. And every hour or so, I lead a tour of Arthur Dyson’s Lapp RiverHouse.
I announce it from the band’s microphone, and we convene on the lawn and circle our way around the house to the front while explain that this is the second Arthur Dyson home I’ve built. I tell about the Lencioni Residence I built with my late husband Dennis Lencioni when I was in my 20s, and that when I married Greg he came with a 1901 Steinway grand piano which took most of the little “great room” in that house. It was a new chapter anyhow: a new husband requires a new Dyson house 🙂I explain that the fountain cancels out the morning and evening commuter traffic from the community just above us (Wonder Valley), and it suggests the river’s sound even if the river is cool and quiet as it glides past our home. People ask about the black steel beams which are aesthetic, not structural, and the grand glu-lams that support the entire roof and arrived in three segments each–the center segment was placed last like a keystone.People are amazed that the pivot door, featured in many of Dyson’s homes, swings so easily. I explain how the house, only 2,000 square feet, uses each room, but especially the great room, for multiple purposes. The sitting area becomes “Yoga-by-the-River” (one of the auction items on the table by the bar), the library nook is my office, and the table can slide over as a buffet and allow 50 seats for a concert. The dining table can range diagonally to seat a crowd.
Most appreciate the sparse decor featuring local rocks, plants and feathers. I have to convince people that we manage in the Central Valley without air conditioning (it can range over 100 dry degrees for several days in summer), but the overhang, the breeze, the fans, and the pool for that one hour when the sun pries its way between the overhang and the sycamore.
We backtrack and go through the laundry room–I make the point about almost every wall doubling as storage, necessary for an open-plan home–and out through the carport, which, unlike a garage, presents no opportunities to collect detritus in the corners (we have a barn for that :)).