Made in the Shade

Renovated Land Park home offers charm and comfort

By Cathryn Rakich
October 2020

Reminiscent of New Orleans, the upstairs balcony of the 1950 Land Park home is ideal for enjoying Sacramento’s cool breezes and waving to neighbors from a social distance.

“We sit out there every evening,” homeowner Tamara Kaestner says.

Rocking chairs, three long rugs and a row of potted and hanging plants add to the convivial atmosphere. Look up and marvel at a starlit night sky hand-painted on the balcony ceiling by Tamara’s husband, Ken. “It was just dead space,” he says. “So we said let’s turn it into another room. Now we spend more time up there than just about anywhere else.”

The Kaestners bought the Land Park charmer in 2019 after the home underwent a head-to-toe upgrade by real estate investment firm Uprock Developers. The 1,790-square-foot home is one of the smaller dwellings in the neighborhood.

“The houses in this area are gargantuan,” Tamara says. The couple—along with their two dogs, Indiana and Solo—wanted to relocate to the Downtown area where Ken grew up, but didn’t need a lot of space. “Anything under 2,000 square feet is rare” in Land Park, she adds. “This house is kind of tucked in here, so it’s perfect.”

The now three-bedroom, three-bath abode offers all the convenience of a new build with the charm of an older home. “It’s not too modern,” says Tamara, who works in marketing for Intel. “It still feels like an older home, which is what we wanted.”

“It was nice moving into a house where nothing needed to be changed,” adds Ken, an occupational therapist. “We didn’t have to worry about hidden costs.”

The renovation included opening up the living space by removing a wall that separated the entryway and dining room. Original hardwood floors were sanded and stained a light brown-grey. The old wooden staircase railing was replaced with a custom-made black metal railing.

The long galley-style kitchen, with its yellow tile countertops and backsplash, was gutted and shortened to make space for a laundry room. New quartz countertops are a nice contrast to the white subway tile backsplash. Original knotty-pine kitchen cabinets were replaced with raised-panel maple cabinets. The linoleum floor is now a classic ceramic tile.

Single-paned windows, with their original metal screens, still crank open. Pine wood paneling, both upstairs and downstairs, gave way to smooth white walls. The living room’s red brick fireplace got a facelift with white paint. Two original built-in shelving units surround French doors that lead to the backyard.

The downstairs bedroom-turned-home-office showcases a large gridded window looking out over the backyard. A James Dean poster hangs prominently by the desk. Marilyn Monroe and Disney themes add more ambiance throughout the home.

Upstairs, gone are the original pink tiles in the master bathroom. In their place are a quartz countertop and custom ceramic floor tiles. A door from the large master bedroom leads to the New Orleans-style balcony.

While the home’s interior was completely renovated, the backyard was still in need of some TLC. Decomposed granite was the first to go, “because decomposed granite is just a big dust bowl,” Ken says. “The dust came through all the cracks in the house. And when wet, with the two dogs, it was a muddy mess.”

The couple replaced the decomposed granite with artificial turf by TuFFGrass, and changed out bark mulch in the far back for a cement-paver patio perfect for entertaining. A new outdoor kitchen, complete with bar and fire feature, was added last month.

But the prize goes to the glorious dawn redwood tree—Ken estimates it’s 60-feet tall. “Dawn redwoods were brought in from China and almost extinct,” Tamara notes. Between the deciduous redwood in the backyard and a large ginkgo tree in the front, the home is well sheltered. “We’re thankful for the shade,” Ken says. “It’s the perfect set up.”


During these days of sheltering at home, Inside Sacramento is looking for creative home art studios and offices to feature in upcoming editions of Open House. Send recommendations to Cathryn Rakich at Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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