“Casa di Martin”

When speaking about our travels, we should also speak of the places that we called “home.”

~~~Ricky West~~~

The major home of my childhood was “Casa di Martin…”

Casa di Martin is a two story mansion, settled in the verdant hills of Orinda, California.


This is the man who designed, built, and lived in Casa di Martin.

My father, Martin. I have named Casa di Martin in his honor.

Martin graduated in Architecture from the University of Oregon. He then went on to remodel or build nearly forty houses in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Dad did it all, He would draw the designs and then have a hand in every aspect of the building. Carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, landscaping and terra-forming are all parts of Martin’s legacy.

Being Martin’s son, I have been around tools, design, and vision building for my whole life. When I was 12, I started working with my dad and spent many of my summers helping build Casa di Martin.

For Dad, Casa di Martin was his dream home. It was that type of project that all artists have: the big expression of talent that artists seek to make reality. Dad’s design of Casa di Martin was inspired by the architecture of Tuscany. Hence, I gave the home’s nickname an Italian feel too.


Growing up at Casa di Martin…

I lived in Casa di Martin even before it was fully constructed. To give you readers context, my family moved into this house for tax reasons and had to made do using an outhouse and showering at a friend’s home or at the gym for five months. Made me appreciate a good bathroom, I’ll tell you.

Living at Casa di Martin was luxurious in ways. I had a beautiful home, a full acre of space to explore, dance, and do what I wanted. However, my family’s experience was unique. Most people who live in homes like this have loads of money and can afford to employ cooks, gardeners and maids. Since my my family was a middle class one that built its way into living in a mansion, we had to do all the work ourselves. Living in a mansion is not all sunshine and rainbows when you have to maintain the grounds personally.

When the great recession hit the USA, I was in college. Partly due to the recession, I returned from college to help my family survive the recession’s effects. For years my family worked to improve the grounds of our home to keep its sale value up. We would work long hours, then clean the whole house every day. Finally we would have a pain pill and glass of wine to end the day.

We sold Casa di Martin to another family in 2014. We lost a lot of value to the recession but the sale gave my father a comfortable retirement, my mother a decent sum, and allowed me to pay off all my student debt from college. To this day, I have nearly no debt and I am very grateful.

Moving to smaller homes was a reprieve for my family. My father and mother separated soon after the sale and we three went our separate ways. All of us enjoyed having simple homes that were not so exhausting to live in.

It has been five years since then. A lot has happened but I still feel the peace of not having student debt. I remember my childhood home. Gratitude for the experience is what I say about Casa di Martin.


A gallery of our old home:

2 comments

  1. You have such a talent as a writer… so nice to read your thoughts and positive attitude and I love the photos too!!!

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