My friend Sue Watkins has bought, fixed up and sold more homes than just about anyone else. The daughter of a local developer, Watkins loves a challenge and enjoys remodeling.
I met Watkins in 1995 when she bought and remodeled the Tudor home—once owned by her grandfather—next door to us on 33rd Street facing McKinley Park.
Before her move to East Sac, she lived in a 1950s Fair Oaks home she bought from the original owners. She remodeled the kitchen and kept most of the design intact. “I loved the neighbors, the neighborhood and the easy access to Fair Oaks Village,” she says.
When she sold the home three years later, she never imagined returning. But after many years and several life and home changes, including a move to Bodega Bay and Sebastopol, she longed for Fair Oaks.
Robert Puleo and Dan Gentry purchased their San Antonio Way home from the original owner in 2018. It was built in 1923.
Puleo went to school with the owner’s granddaughter. The couple bought the home from her grandmother, who was born in the house. When new, it was the only residence on the street.
In late 2019, Karen Blaise and Matthew Shigihara purchased their midcentury modern home in Sierra Oaks. The couple previously lived in Land Park, where Blaise bought her first home in 1984.
“The home was in original condition, and we were excited to start a major redesign and remodel,” says Shigihara, an architect known for his design of two Sacramento water intake structures. “We were thrilled to give a new life to the home originally built in 1960.”
“After we met in 2007, I vowed I’d never leave Land Park,” Blaise says. “Matthew even designed a striking contemporary home that we considered building in place of our older home on Fifth Avenue. But sadly, the city’s design ordinance didn’t allow what we had envisioned.”
Blaise’s brother lives in Wilhaggin, and the couple visited Arden often. In their eyes, it lacked Land Park’s appeal. “But when this Huntington Road home came on the market, we both agreed we’d found the perfect project,” Blaise says.
Alan and Kelly Harbitter love older homes and appreciate older things. One day Kelly walked past a two-story home on 41st Street. The place was old and ready for new life. Kelly and Alan eventually bought it.
“I used to walk from my Berkeley Way home in East Sac and look at all the older houses and imagine what I could do to preserve and enhance them,” Kelly says.
Kelly grew up in East Sac. She built a career in Washington, D.C., in government relations but dreamed of returning to her hometown. She and Alan met about 20 years ago. For 15 years, the couple maintained a bicoastal relationship. When they married in 2010, Kelly convinced Alan to make their home in Sacramento.
The Reeves family purchased their Carmichael property in 2008. It was a relatively new custom home, but Dr. Aaron Reeves spent a decade renovating the home to suit his family of four. Reeves is a dentist and dental entrepreneur, but his vision and design expertise is on par with many design professionals.
When he was house hunting two decades ago, the late real estate legend Marge Reid suggested he look at the property overlooking Ancil Hoffman Park and Golf Course.