Family Ties

Home has new owners, but legacy lingers

By Cecily Hastings
October 2023

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.

“We wanted to live in a charming East Sac neighborhood, and we got it,” Gentry says.

“It was interesting because the first time we came through, we realized that one had to have a lot of vision to see the possibilities, because the walls were drab and dirty with ugly curtains and old Venetian blinds,” Puleo says.

The home is a high-water bungalow. It sits about 5 feet higher than typical homes in the neighborhood. The original owners turned the flood space into a basement.

“The woman we bought it from remembered her father digging out the dirt to create a cooler summer living space for the family,” Puleo says. “It has a full living space, including a living/dining space, bathroom, kitchenette and bedroom. The family just moved downstairs when it was hot.” Now it’s space for hobbies and storage.

The home is 920 square feet, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, but Puleo and Gentry love the feeling of the openness and light. There was one Jack and Jill bathroom, but the new owners closed one side and added a master bath suite, replacing a screened porch.

“Our home is deceptively large. Since there are no hallways and now a large opening between the kitchen, dining and living areas, the home feels much larger,” Gentry says. “When you stand in the middle of the house, you can see out all the windows.”

Basking in the light are original maple floors, refinished to golden blonde.

For years the couple lived in Rancho Cordova with a pool. They spent years remodeling. Nine years ago, they sold to Puleo’s sister and rented an apartment Downtown so they could travel. The dark apartment grew depressing. Time for a change.

Puleo is a retired state employee. He and Gentry moonlighted in the antique and vintage business, and established Puleo Gentry Gallery at the 57th Street Antique Row. The shop closed in 2018, and retirement beckoned, just in time to embark on remodeling their new East Sac home.

The couple chose white Shaker-style cabinets for the kitchen and bathroom. The countertops are quartz with a gray and white marble pattern. The spaces feature accents of decorative tiles that reflect Moroccan and Venetian aesthetics. Each room has vintage art hung in studio gallery style.

“We saved two leaded glass windows from a china cabinet we removed and used them in the new kitchen cabinets as an ode to the original home,” Puleo says.

The compact house is nearly surrounded by generous gardens. Puleo works the land like a county gentleman. The couple replanted nearly every tree and shrub. They saved a huge lemon tree and built a back porch around its trunk.

The backyard focal point is an enormous wooden trellis that supports dense wisteria vines. The trellis shades a rectangular dining table. “We can easily entertain groups of up to 20 for dinner,” Gentry says.

The couple loves gardening, especially growing food. The south side yard is dedicated to vegetables. My visit found cherry and heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and peppers in raised beds. Herbs thrived in pots.

A fig tree and carefully pruned Italian grapevine highlight the side yards. The back has fruit and citrus trees, plus miniature Italian cypress.

Behind the garage is a greenhouse created from the home’s recycled windows.

They relandscaped the front yard, keeping only the original camellia bushes, planted when the home was new.

Gentry says best of all are the wonderful neighbors. Puleo agrees, but also highlights the light and bright interior spaces.

“But to me this property feels somewhat sacred,” Puleo says. “Knowing the family and their Italian history, I just feel that I belong here.”

Cecily Hastings can be reached at To recommend a home or garden, contact Follow us on Facebook and Instagram: insidesacramento.

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