Text By Lisa McEwen | Photos by Steve Cory
t seems appropriate that Lifestyle Magazine is taking readers on a jaunt to California’s Central Coast this month, just when most Visalians are weary of the San Joaquin Valley’s blistering summer heat. In need of a respite? Keep reading and enjoy a tour of a former Visalia couple’s Arroyo Grande home.
Traveling south on Highway 101 in the Five Cities area of San Luis Obispo County, with the sparkling Pacific Ocean to the west, it’s easy to feel as though one is leaving one landscape and traveling into another. Twenty miles from the college town of San Luis Obispo, a more rural, agricultural area greets the senses, where the scent of freshly harvested fields of broccoli and celery intermingle with stately wine grape vineyards, and sand dunes hug the shoreline.
For Mike and Sheri Jefferis, who were college sweethearts at Cal Poly, they are indeed straddling life’s chapters with their recent move to Arroyo Grande. After living in Visalia for 25 years, the couple moved to the coastal town in 2018. They left a city with more than 130,000 people and traded it for Arroyo Grande, population 18,000.
They also exchanged dry, hot summers for cool, foggy mornings at their home, situated on the 18th hole of the Cypress Ridge Golf Course.
“We looked for a beach house for five years, from Cambria to Arroyo Grande,” Sheri said during an interview in the sunny living room, where pup Winston snuggled alongside her on the leather couch. “We always wanted to come back to live here — who doesn’t? We even go to some of our old date spots.”
One of those spots is the Great American Vaudeville and Melodrama, located in nearby Oceano.
Finally, their Realtor found a three-bedroom, three-bath home in the gated Cypress Ridge neighborhood, in an area known to locals as The Mesa because of its high perch compared to the rest of the city.
“We liked where it was,” Sheri said of their home. “It is far enough away but close enough to everything we love. It’s quiet, and San Luis Obispo is just 20 minutes away.”
Longtime readers of Lifestyle Magazine may recall that the Jefferis’ Visalia home, situated in the Cobblestone II development, was featured in May 2015. While the two homes are drastically different in their architectural and decorative styles, one constant remains: the couples’ attention to detail.
“Our home represents our lives together. It is us, what we do, and what we’ve done together.”
It’s apparent when pulling up to the earth-toned, stone facade home in a well-kept, hilly neighborhood filled with a mix of retired folks and young families. Manicured grass, pretty flower beds, clean walkways and an American flag greet visitors. (A neighbor joked with Sheri earlier in the week if she had finished polishing the blades of grass in the front yard yet).
Entering through a small courtyard, visitors are immediately enveloped by calming, light gray walls, a chocolatey walnut floor and rich accents. A handsome, quiet library with custom-made bookshelves invites visitors to settle in with one of the many history books contained within, while a hallway will take guests to either the bedroom wing or into the gourmet kitchen.
“This is a great house for us,” Sheri said while leading a quick tour. “What we love most is that each bedroom has its own bathroom. Everybody wants to come visit us here.”
With Arroyo Grande’s temperate climate, it’s no wonder that many of their guests are family and friends from Visalia, including daughters Amanda, who teaches in Visalia, and Heather, who lives in Torrance and visits with the Jefferis’ most-prized possession — their granddaughter Anika.
In fact, Anika has her own bedroom, filled with stuffed animals, soft pink accents and toys. “She is the most-loved little girl,” Sheri said. “We love having her here for visits.”
Another bedroom doubles as a sewing/craft room, guest room and office space, while the master bedroom will soon see a bit of makeover with new hardwood flooring to match the rest of the home.
Sheri explained that she and Mike, who will celebrate their 41st anniversary this year, are the third owners of the home and, since moving in, they have spent time upgrading and customizing the interior with window coverings, crown moulding, the library bookshelves and many other features.
“Mike is super handy and has added a lot of the finish work,” she said.
Another feature the couple noticed right away is the sunshine that pours into the home.
“The whole house is very light,” Sheri said, “and I really love that.”
Decoratively, the previous owners utilized more contemporary features than the couple would have chosen themselves, but they’ve worked hard to incorporate their belongings from their Visalia home. For example, the tiny tile backsplashes in the kitchen and game room are a shiny silver, giving off a woven effect. And bright blue blown-glass pendants illuminate the black granite kitchen island.
“I would describe our style as traditional, and we’re fighting with the modern touches in the rooms. But mostly, our home represents our lives together. And everything has a connection to Visalia.”
When they initially toured the home, a big selling point for Mike was the game room, which would easily fit his pool table, given to him by good friend and Crawdaddy’s owner Troy Korsgaden.
Other mementos scattered throughout the house include several electric guitars purchased at fundraisers after Gary Hooey concerts at the Orange Blossom Junction in Exeter. “We were groupies!” Sheri said. A gorgeous, petite bronze version of “The End of the Trail” statue that stands in Mooney Grove Park rests on a shelf in the living room, and pencil portraits of their daughters by Visalia artist Ellen Millinch hang on one wall.
After lengthy careers in social work and banking, the Jefferises spend their days enjoying their retired lives, whether it’s gardening, visiting Mike’s mom, Helen, who resides nearby in assisted living, hosting friends and family, or volunteering.
Sheri also runs a small decorated sugar cookie company, The Kracked Kookie. She had just finished an order for a group of Redwood High School graduates prior to our interview and gave Lifestyle Magazine a peek at her immaculately organized pantry, full of expertly arranged cookie cutters, piping bags and jars of colorful sprinkles. She joked that her tidy, shiny kitchen and black countertops are covered in flour and frosting when she’s working on an order.
The couple’s three children all attended Redwood High School, including son, Ryan, who passed away in 1999. For many years, the family awarded a memorial scholarship to a graduating senior in his honor.
Outdoors, the backyard, with a pool and spa, overlooks the 18th hole. By this point of the course, Sheri said many of the players have had a few drinks so their yard often is the resting point for wayward strokes.
“Otherwise, living here is pretty much bliss,” Sheri said.
Mike is an avid gardener, and several planter boxes are filled with a lush vegetable garden. The couple also added pavers and planted stone fruit and citrus trees in a side yard.
“Here, you can always be outside,” Sheri said, “not just in the spring and fall like in Visalia!”
Which brings readers back to reality — August in the valley can be brutal weather-wise. With residents gearing up for back-to-school and cooler fall weather tantalizingly close, it’s good to remember that home is not where your house is. It’s who you share it with.
“Our home is our home, and everything in it has a story,” Sheri said. “It is us, what we do, and what we’ve done together.”