It may be hard to believe that near the hustle and bustle of a neighboring high school lies a serene and charming sanctuary, just beyond school grounds. This haven in particular belongs to educator, wife and mother Karen Saikhon, to name only a few of her trades. The location, within walking distance of Southwest High School, has proven itself ideal as Saikhon has worked as an instructor at the school for several years. Resting on one full acre of land, Saikhon and her husband Arthur have called this residence home for over two decades. A dwelling which captures your attention from the outside in, the house is surrounded by lush greenery and perhaps, most notably, a beautifully extended olive tree settled next to the family’s driveway. Her husband, a seasoned farmer, was most adamant in planting the tree, now 18 years old. “The olive tree is something that was very important for him to have in our yard,” Saikhon recollects.
Originally from the Imperial Valley, Saikhon returned to El Centro after graduating from California Baptist University with a degree in business management and finance and has been here ever since. Her home was constructed in 1989, after Saikhon and her husband purchased the property, built the structure from the foundation up and made the alterations necessary to accommodate their growing family. “We always knew we wanted a big family, so we definitely wanted to expand the house and have enough space in which to raise children,” she says.
The home’s foyer welcomes its guests with a portrait of Saikhon and her husband happily posing together at their wedding ceremony. Situated next to the beautifully framed photo is a brass and golden, hued grandfather clock, a classic piece accenting the home’s timeless but modern quality. Continuing on into the home, visitors are greeted by many other memories, captured and framed, of the Saikhon family throughout the years. A family portrait of Saikhon, her husband and their six children overlooks the living room as they pose amongst a vast field of green; her husband’s craft not forgotten in their picturesque choice of scenery.
Adjacent to the family living room is the kitchen, complete with granite countertops and a custom-built light fixture, which hangs above the unit. The next room is the formal dining area, where Saikhon and her family celebrate and feast during the holidays. In addition to the dark wood furnishings, the dining room is also equipped with a bar and china cabinet displaying their collection of fine glassware. “This is typically where we sit down and eat for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas when the family gets together,” she shares.
The household, comprised of five bedrooms and four bathrooms, also includes a loft area with a stairway that extends to the upper section of the room. Its most noticeable feature, centered in the middle of the loft’s lower half, is an antique wooden low table of intricate craftsmanship. Built by her husband’s grandfather in 1962, the table was given to the couple as a gift and has remained an especially cherished possession ever since.
Aside from the home’s interior is the family’s backyard, complete with a pool and slide, custom-built tiki hut and barbecue grill, a playhouse and even a pig pen for the children to tend to their fair animals. In her spare time Saikhon and her family open their home and its amenities to the public to host end-of-the-year parties for students. Saikhon’s older daughters also offer private home swimming lessons to children during the summer. After experiencing the residence first hand, it is safe to say that the home offers a little bit of everything, and with four of six children in the house there is never a dull moment. “This house is definitely well lived in,” says Saikhon laughingly. A work of constructional art in addition to being a comforting refuge, Saikhon’s desert paradise reflects the fond memories and familial bonds shared by her and her family.