At home with ... Tina Thomas and Bill Abbott
04/26/2014 12:00 AM
10/06/2014 9:18 PM
Think global, act local. That mantra inspires many environmentalists in their everyday lives.
Tina Thomas and Bill Abbott, both prominent Sacramento attorneys specializing in environmental law, also embraced that concept in their home. In Curtis Park, the impressive two-story Monterey-style house embodies their commitment to their community while also reflecting their family’s farflung adventures.
“We love it,” Thomas said of their house. “It’s great. It was built in 1932, and we’re just the second owners. We did a lot of work, but the bones were good.”
Saturday, they welcome visitors to see firsthand during the 28th annual Curtis Park Home and Garden Tour. Their house will be one of seven homes that represent the architectural diversity of this beloved neighborhood.
The Thomas/Abbott home is a neighborhood jewel, originally built for pharmacist Gus Affleck and his family. When it was finished, the brick house was one of only four on Coleman Way, sitting atop a rise called Whiskey Hill, according to hand-written notes from the Afflecks.
Thomas and Abbott have opened their home for this tour twice before – but more than 20 years ago. They’ve done a lot of work since then: added a pool, built a guest house and remodeled the kitchen. Yet, the Early California-inspired home maintains its original hacienda feel.
Original wrought-iron fixtures frame windows and doors, including golden brown “bottle” windows that swing out over the garden. Sconces and chandeliers date back to the 1930s. Dark-hued wood beams and paneling decorate the ceilings. The original pegged wide oak planks line the wood floors.
“I grew up in a house in Southern California that was built in 1918,” Abbott said. “When we walked into this house for the first time, it felt like I was home.”
“We’ve tried to maintain things – except for the kitchen,” Thomas added. “It was like a bowling alley. ... (Now), I love this kitchen. It’s a great spot for cooking and meals with family.”
The kitchen’s much-needed update stayed true to the home’s original feel. Walls were knocked out of two small, adjacent rooms to form a large gathering space, anchored by a granite-topped island and lined with knotty pine cabinets. The woodworker carved notches in the kitchen’s central pillar to match bannisters on the home’s original stairway.
Made for entertaining, their house has hosted many gatherings. The brick patios and tile-lined fountain beckon visitors outdoors to relax among the citrus trees and fragrant blossoms. Japanese maples, hydrangeas, apple trees and a large weeping cherry soften the surroundings. G.K., the calico cat, keeps a watchful eye on the driveway. The wrap-around balcony offers a rooftop view of the neighborhood and a place to enjoy the afternoon breeze.
“It’s a nice place to come sit and sip a glass of wine,” Thomas said.
The basement holds a surprise – and the harder stuff: a private “speakeasy” bar behind swinging doors. The rest of the basement serves as a music room for Abbott, who plays guitar in the R&B band UnSupervised.
“It’s probably the most politically correct band in Sacramento,” Abbott said. Other members include Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna, West Sacramento Councilmember Chris Ledesma, former West Sacramento Mayor Cindy Tuttle and former Yolo County Supervisor Mike McGowan.
Each room of the house is warmed by a Southwestern palette of orange, red and gold. The walls hold a lifetime of memories.
The couple and their three children travel extensively. One daughter works in Africa for the Clinton Foundation. Meaningful mementos reflect places they’ve been, as well as its spirit. Hand-made baskets and vintage religious icons decorate the kitchen and dining room. Tribal masks make a statement in the den. Little Buddhas rest on a windowsill.
Decorating several walls are the work of local artists, mostly longtime friends of the owners. A near-life-size portrait of the family by Jerald Silva hangs over the sofa. A breath-taking Delta landscape by Roy Tellefson also graces the living room, filled with family antiques and 1920s and ’30s furniture that fits the home’s style.
“We like to collect local artists,” said Thomas, noting it gives the home a sense of place. “Several of them also live in our neighborhood.”
The home is packed with reminders of family, which is what the couple like best.
“The best thing about this house is my wife,” Abbott said.
Added Thomas, “We’ll never move. Our children wouldn’t let us.”
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