Home & Garden

East Sacramento home mixes tradition with urban chic for the holidays

Christmas decorations in a formal dining room at the home of Neal and Heidi Cordeiro will be a centerpiece of this year’s Sacred Heart Holiday Home Tour.
Christmas decorations in a formal dining room at the home of Neal and Heidi Cordeiro will be a centerpiece of this year’s Sacred Heart Holiday Home Tour. rbenton@sacbee.com

Christmas came early to the Cordeiro household. Featured on this weekend’s 41st annual Sacred Heart Holiday Home Tour, their home became immersed in the holiday spirit by early November.

“I never decorated this early — or this well,” said Heidi Cordeiro, a retired attorney who enlisted the help of friend Denyse DesJardin.

“She learned a lot,” said DesJardin, a retired interior designer. “She did everything with me, side by side.”

But the Cordeiros won’t be sick of red and green come January. The creative decorators tweaked that traditional Christmas combination on the color wheel to pair eggplant purple and neon-bright chartreuse.

They played off the soft grays, greens and abstract artwork used throughout the 42nd Street house, mixing natural elements and textures with hard-edged industrial metals.

The result? “It’s so unexpected,” said Cordeiro. “That’s what everybody says when they see it.”

That should be quite a crowd. The popular tour annually attracts about 5,000 patrons to this Fabulous Forties neighborhood in support of Sacred Heart Parish School.

This tour has become a beloved part of East Sacramento, said school principal Theresa Sparks. Proceeds benefit many of the school’s programs.

“We have 315 students, ages 4 to 14,” Sparks said. “This is our biggest fundraiser and it supports all the students at our school.”

“It’s become a tradition for so many families,” added Kris Quigley, part of the tour committee. “I like to take the tour with my daughter every year.”

Five homes, all within walking distance of the school, are open for visitors Saturday and Sunday. Among the design teams that decorated these houses are Kerrie Kelly Design Lab, Haus Home and Gift, Stone Wood Design, Inc. and Diana Westerberg.

Ranging from a Tudor mansion to a chic California home, the houses showcase elaborate renovation while preserving historic design, custom interior decoration and creative holiday décor, Quigley said.

“Chic” is an understatement for the Cordeiro home. Topped off by its unusual holiday decorations, the classy blend of elements feels very contemporary yet timeless.

“What (designers) come up with always surprises me,” Sparks said. “I walked into this house, and I was flabbergasted. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Neal and Heidi Cordeiro are relative newcomers to the Fabulous Forties. They bought their home a little over a year ago and immediately went to work re-imagining the two-story house.

“We had lived in Wilton on five acres,” Heidi said. “That was great when the kids were growing up, but we’re empty-nesters now. We wanted to be in town. This was a really good move for us.”

Neal Cordeiro and Denyse’s husband, Brad DesJardin, – are partners in DesCor Builders, commercial general contractors. Denyse helped Heidi with the home’s makeover, too.

“It’s eclectic,” Denyse said. “It’s kind of urban chic, pretty-elegant to industrial-rustic. The home starts more elegant in front (at the entrance) and then becomes more comfortable as you walk back (through rooms).”

“It really is a blend of old and new,” said Heidi. “It honors the traditions of the neighborhood but also has these pops of modern. It looks spectacular.”

The house started as a quaint 1920s cottage. A remodel circa 1990 had punched up its size considerably. A second story was added along with lots of space for entertaining.

“The only thing existing from that original little cottage is a bathroom,” Heidi said. “When we bought the house, it was very, very traditional. And it was pink. It was colonial style and had a very East Coast look. It was beautifully decorated.

“But we went in a different direction.”

That new direction surprises at every turn. In the dining room, Denyse DesJardin used a truck full of fruit tree branches to create an overhead thicket, interwoven in a crystal chandelier. Suspended on nylon threads, copper-colored glass teardrops “fall” from the forestry towards a tabletop decorated with scattered lime-green moss. Birch slabs serve as placemats under green earthenware.

In the front living room, a Christmas tree echoes a modern abstract glass etching. Moss covered limbs suspended in midair dodge sparkly star-burst ornaments, echoing the tree and the artwork.

Over the kitchen table, a wooden chandelier is crowned with more branches, deer antlers, moss and ornaments. The fireplace mantle is draped with evergreens and metal cutouts. Nearby, a stand of 8-foot birch trunks “rooted” in crates of river rocks holds more ornaments.

Of course, there are more traditional looking Christmas trees, too. In the den, a tree is decorated with gun-metal hues toy planes, trains and automobiles.

“It’s our ‘Going Places’ tree,” DesJardin explained.

Another tree is studded with vintage cameras and clocks including one pulled from a 1960s Buick. “That tree captures time,” she added.

So far, the question this design team hears most?

“What color is that gray?” said DesJardin of the living room walls. “Everybody asks that. It’s just the best gray ever – Restoration Hardware slate. It pulls everything together.”

Call The Bee’s Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington.


Where: Start at Sacred Heart Parish School, 39th and H streets, Sacramento

When: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

Admission: $30 advance (available online); $35 after today

Details: (916) 556-5050, www.sacredhearthometour.com

This popular walking tour annually attracts about 5,000 patrons, who visit spectacularly decorated homes in East Sacramento’s Fabulous Forties neighborhood and find holiday boutique items and refreshments at the school.

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