Arden Park home and garden get much-needed update
By Cathryn Rakich
As a landscape architect, Bill Roach puts a great deal of importance in his outdoor living space. When a past-its-prime ranch house in Arden Park came up for sale, Roach and his partner looked beyond the tired structure to the spacious backyard with limitless potential.
“The lot was one of the things that made us pull the trigger on buying this house,” which sits on more than three-quarters of an acre, Roach says. But in addition to the ramshackle home, “the backyard was also very scary.”
The landscape was so overgrown, the unruly shrubs and bushes practically crept into the swimming pool. While cutting away the unwelcome vegetation, the homeowners found an abandoned homeless camp strategically hidden behind the jungle at the back of the lot.
“There was a big grassy slope with no drainage,” Roach says. “Every time it rained, water slid down the hill into the pool. So the pool would turn brown every winter.”
Today, the pool is sparkling and pristine with a sleek concrete deck offering room for lounge chairs and patio umbrellas. Three new planter boxes and an original orange tree sit between the pool and lush tree-lined back fence.
The grassy slope has been graded into three levels separated by retaining walls of stacked flat quartz stones, topped with crushed gravel. The middle level holds a bocce ball lane for guests to enjoy. The top level has two long picnic tables, outdoor patio heaters and overhead string lighting.
To the right is another area for relaxing around a gas firepit, shaded in the hot summers by a towering fruitless mulberry. “Everything is built around this tree,” Roach says. Lights attached high among the tree branches “cast a nice light over the firepit.”
The homeowners revamped a decrepit, closed-in back porch by removing the screening, adding skylights and ceiling fans, and painting the ceiling and posts bright white. Green paint was sandblasted off the cement floor. A cheery yellow door leading to the house adds a pop of color.
An original black iron gate with decorative curlicues leads from the front yard to a breezeway that separates the home from a small building used as an office. “The breezeway is cool,” Roach says. “Most people have covered up their breezeways, but I really love this concept.”
Renovations to the interior of the 2,700-square-foot house, built in 1950, were extensive. They included essential and aesthetic changes. “It had the original heater, original air conditioner,” Roach says. “We changed all the plumbing and all the drain lines. We did pretty much all new wiring.”
The couple opened up the floor plan by removing a wall between the living room and “tiny, cut-up kitchen.” They reconfigured the kitchen and adjacent utility room. “I worked with an architect who helped me lay out the kitchen,” says Roach, who knew what he wanted for the remodel. “I spent a year on Houzz looking at things, savings pictures and narrowing it down.”
The new spacious kitchen has Caesarstone quartz countertops—ivory white with grey veining on the island and concrete grey against the walls. The dramatic backsplash is made of cement floor tiles in a geometric black, grey and white pattern.
A bonus living space off the kitchen is affectionately called the “Wood Room,” Roach says. “It was completely closed off and dark. It felt so removed from the rest of the house. Now it’s the room we spend all our time in.”
Redwood tongue and groove panels and beams in the Wood Room’s ceiling were painted white. A dingy linoleum floor was replaced with hardwood to seamlessly match the adjacent living room’s refurbished original white oak floors (hidden under carpeting when the house was purchased). A red brick fireplace adds to the coziness.
A second brick fireplace, painted white, brightens up the living room, along with plantation shutters and re-plastered, imperfect smooth walls and ceiling. Original artwork lends color and creativity.
Before purchasing the Arden Park home in 2015, “we had been looking for quite a while,” Roach says. The couple had sold their house in Natomas and found a rental in the Arden Park neighborhood. “That’s how we fell in love with Arden Park. It’s completely different from where we lived in Natomas. A different sort of vibe.”
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