Home & Garden

Preservation tour shows how to remodel without sacrificing an old home's heart and soul

The Nasts’ house more than doubled in size while retaining its look and architecture.
The Nasts’ house more than doubled in size while retaining its look and architecture. rbyer@sacbee.com

Steve and Shellie Nast found their Sacramento dream home on T Street.

“We knew when we bought it that this was our ‘forever house’ where we’ll live out our years,” Shellie said. “But we didn’t realize how much work it would be.”

They bought their home almost two decades ago, but that was only the start of their personal journey. It took many years – and a lot of remodeling – for this Craftsman house to “grow up” with its family and finally fulfill its dreamy potential.

Now, the historic home is more than double its original size with a second story perched above its gables. Through careful planning and execution, the addition looks and feels like it’s always been there, echoing the fine details found incorporated into the house when it was built in 1913.

Preserving the old in the new has also made this house an inspiration. That’s why the Nast home will be featured on Sunday’s Preservation Sacramento Home Tour

“When they first approached us about being on the tour, I asked them, ‘Are you sure you want our house?’ ” Shellie recalled. “It’s old, but remodeled. Is it still historic?”

Definitely, said Christine Weinstein, one of the tour’s organizers.

“It was a seamless addition,” Weinstein said. “Actually, this house shows how to properly remodel a historic home. The idea of preserving the original look was very important to them – and it shows. It’s just gorgeous.”

Celebrating Sacramento’s often overlooked Elmhurst neighborhood for the first time, this popular home tour serves as an architectural showcase. Tucked between Highway 50 and the UC Davis Medical Center, Elmhurst features tree-lined streets dotted with all kinds of interesting and historic houses.

Among the highlights Sunday will be the Julia Morgan House, the only home designed by the famous architect in Sacramento. Also on T Street, the Morgan House now serves as a conference and events center.

“Coincidentally, that’s where we had our wedding reception when we got married – at the Morgan House,” said Shellie. “That’s kind of cool to be on the same tour.”

Morgan’s Mediterranean mansion mixes well with the neighborhood’s Victorian, Tudor and Craftsman homes.

“We have such an eclectic mix of homes,” Shellie said. “(This neighborhood) is a forgotten gem, isolated from East Sacramento. Most people don’t even know it’s here.”

The neighborhood earned its nickname from the many big elms that grew on its shady streets, Weinstein said. Some of those century-old trees still stand.

 ‘Hurst’ means high hill,” Weinstein added. “This is one of the highest points in Sacramento. So Elmhurst was an appropriate name for the neighborhood.”

Long before they met, they had each admired this former bungalow on a hill.

“I used to walk by this house every day on the way to school,” Shellie said. “Steve grew up near here, too, and used to drive by the house every day.”

The Nast family made some small changes before tackling the major remodel in 2012, which took about nine months to execute.

“We put a lot of thought into this house before we started making changes,” Shellie said. “Finally, we got serious and made a timeline.”

On another home tour, they met renovations expert Ted Smith. He then brought in contractor Susan Prang of Creative Eye Design + Build.

“We formed a good relationship with them and that helped a lot,” Shellie said. “They really understood what we wanted to do.”

“It costs more to do it the right way,” said Steve, himself an architect. “And we wanted to do it the right way.”

The transformation restored some of the house’s character, lost through previous revisions by former owners.

In the living room, they retained the original Douglas fir floor, ceiling and paneling but remade the fireplace with mosaic tile and a Craftsman-style mantel, made to match the existing woodwork. That same tile, but with a glossy finish, was used in the shower in the new master bathroom.

Craftsman touches such as box ceilings and wooden plate rails were echoed in the addition along with abundant windows and natural lighting.

The large country kitchen got an update, too, with gray quartz counters and bamboo flooring. Featuring plenty of Craftsman touches, the kitchen feels modern yet classic and very inviting.

The handmade cherry staircase to the new second floor, with copper tile inserts, leads into the kitchen.

“I wanted it to go right into the hub of the house, the kitchen,” Shellie said. “The staircase connects the whole house.”

Besides bringing their historic home up to date, the Nasts also needed the extra space, especially after their son Noah was born.

“It was two bedrooms, one bath,” Shellie said. “We had one closet – and we all shared. Now, we each have our own big closet.”

Plus a lot more: The remodeled home has three large bedrooms and three full bathrooms plus a half-bath next to the laundry room and back door. One of the original bedrooms became a home office.

“I love the laundry room,” Shellie added. “Our washing machine and dryer used to be in the basement. I had to go outside and down the stairs every time I did laundry.”

Noah, now age 8, has his own room upstairs, decorated with vintage airplane wallpaper, “Star Wars” posters and an ever-expanding Lego collection.

In the new bedrooms, built-in cabinets echo the original woodwork downstairs.

“We had real tradespeople working on the home,” Shellie said. “They brought their passion to the project; that was really cool. It also respected the house.”

With their expert help, the couple made the house the best of both new and old.

“We love it,” Shellie said. “I feel really proud we did right by the house in the remodel. It was really important to work with someone who understands older homes and works with their aesthetic and design. We hope the house can be an inspiration to other people who want to remodel and do it the right way.”

Debbie Arrington: 916-321-1075, @debarrington

Preservation Sacramento Home Tour

Where: The 41st annual historic home tour starts at the T Street median between 40th and 42nd streets, Sacramento

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12

Admission: $30 in advance; $35 day of the event

Details: www.preservationsacramento.org

Note: Advance tickets available online and at 57th Street Antiques, East Sacramento Hardware, Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, The Avid Reader and Time-Tested Books.

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