Well Preserved

Couple rejuvenates home with original parts

By Cecily Hastings
August 2023

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.

After the move they wanted a bigger home. Their search led to frustration. Most homes were either teardowns that would require starting over or updates that were too modern.

They found what they wanted with their 41st Street purchase. “The home was 100 years old and had only minor upgrades from the original condition,” Kelly says. “The original family had been here almost 50 years.”

The couple began with a vintage-sensitive remodel of the kitchen and bathrooms. They added a first-floor half bath by the kitchen.

The dark stained cottage-style cabinetry contrasts with light grey veined marble counters. A farm-style sink and bronze hardware bin pulls add to the vintage appearance. They extended the oak floors into the kitchen for a consistent look.
The floor plan is referred to as a “four square” design—four bedrooms upstairs with one bathroom. Toward the front is a small sitting room.

But with grown children, the couple decided to reorganize the upstairs. “We combined two bedrooms into a master suite, with a generous closet and master bath,” Kelly says. “We use the other two bedrooms as an office and guest room.”

The vintage-sensitive approach from the kitchen applies to cabinetry and finishes upstairs. Marble tile mosaics add a luxurious touch and contrast with the original stained wood floors. The bath was upgraded with black and white mosaic tiles, painted wainscotting and freestanding bathtub. They kept the original pedestal sink.

In 2020, they completed a basement remodel to showcase their interests. Kelly is a horsewoman, Alan a musician. “The space had previously been used for storage. But we added a full bath and created and very enjoyable entertainment space,” Kelly says.

The basement has a bistro table for wine tasting, perfect when the pandemic kept them home. They added a brick wall to emphasize the subterranean location. The entrance has the original wood staircase.

Two large, tufted sofas and a satin black grand piano highlight the living room. The grandfather clock is a family heirloom.

Just off the living room is the original side porch with black lattice walls. A fountain bubbles as Delta breezes flow through in summer evenings. Antique and vintage furniture and accessories abound.

The couple worked hard to preserve original details. “We saved every vintage light fixture and switch that we could,” Alan says. The doors are original, with paint stripped away and stained ebony to contrast the white painted woodwork.
“We were careful to save every doorknob and even the door hinges we had replated,” Kelly says.

While they added no additional space to the original 2,700 square feet, the couple rebuilt the garage for code compliance. They reused the original sliding wood garage doors. “We also incorporated a home gym behind the garage that we use daily,” Alan says.

They refreshed the backyard, set among a couple of huge orange trees, with plants and shrubs, and added a round galvanized tank converted to a splash pool.

The Harbitters couldn’t be happier with life, especially with great neighbors on 41st Street.

“My favorite thing about this house is the open central stairway,” Alan says. “You can see out through almost every window, both upstairs and down from the stairwell. It’s a house made of windows.”

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

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