This 1976 beauty still makes sparks fly
By Cecily Hastings
Tyler and Jessica Wichmann love midcentury design and have become preservationists of the design era. They restored and remodeled a 2,100-square-foot home, a gem built in 1976 in the Wildflower subdivision of Carmichael. The home features three bedrooms and two baths.
Wildflower has 43 homes designed by architect Carter Sparks and built by the Streng Brothers. “It’s really special that a few of the original owners are still here,” Tyler says. “One couple has been here since 1975 and they customized their design. He was a plumber for Streng Brothers, so they got to make it really special.”
“This is the atrium model of this subdivision featuring a flat roof. We were instantly attracted to it as my wife and I are big plant people, and we’ve collected many cacti, succulents and houseplants over the years,” he says.
The entrance opens to a large space with a huge skylight. The floors feature concrete walkways with indoor garden beds. Living spaces flow directly off this space for an indoor/outdoor feel. A bright green wall warms and dramatizes the space.
“Ours originally had a huge Norfolk Island Pine tree growing inside that shaded the entire space,” Tyler says. But the couple had other ideas, especially when they discovered the beds were filled with pests.
They removed the plants and soil and introduced a dry garden theme to feature their plant collection. “We haven’t watered anything in the last three months. Everything still grows because the amount of light in the environment,” Jessica says.
Now their new front yard dry garden extends inside. The covered entryway hints at what’s inside with bright glass panels, burnt-orange paint and a small display of succulents.
“We installed the same rock in the atrium that we used outside in the front, back and on the sides of the house for consistency,” Tyler says.
The couple bought the home in August 2019 and immediately started on renovations. “The home’s original features were in very good shape, but it needed some 21st century updates,” Tyler adds. “We were only the second owners of this home.”
The couple replaced the HVAC systems, removed popcorn ceilings, and remodeled the kitchen and baths, using a light touch to preserve original details. Black steel windows and doors are original Blomberg, which are still made in Sacramento.
“We wanted to keep the original footprint of the kitchen because, while small, it functioned really well,” Jessica says. “We worked with Kerf Design of Seattle and found exactly what we wanted in restoring the kitchen’s original charm but with current design standards.”
Kerf cabinetry features plywood with elegant, exposed joinery details. The couple added new appliances and quartz countertops to complete the renovation. “We could not be happier with how it turned out,” Jessica says.
The bathrooms also got a new look with white modern vanities and custom tile with a midcentury color and design the Wichmanns created.
While the home came with a bland tan and brown color scheme, the couple choice a vibrant period palette for their project. A painting in their living room ties the color theme of the home together.
Tyler and Jessica removed recently installed ceramic floor tiles and restored the original concrete floors. The result is a low-maintenance floor with an organic look and feel.
The home is furnished with curated classic midcentury furniture and accessories. “We had a number of these pieces in our old house. But in the last two years, we’ve collected many more vintage and new pieces,” Jessica says.
Their favorites include classics designed by Charles Eames. “We really became infatuated with Charles and Ray Eames, especially because Ray was from Sacramento,” Tyler says.
The primary bedroom features a wall of gray wood siding that reflects both the atrium and the exterior. Sleek, elegant walnut dressers warm the room. “Our bedroom is our retreat,” Jessica says.
Many homes in the subdivision have been remodeled to current design standards, mostly by developers who quickly rehab and resell the homes. “Removing every bit of a home’s history makes us a bit sad,” Jessica says.
The couple administers the Streng Brothers Facebook page because they consider it s great resource for homeowners to better understand the beauty and potential of midcentury homes.
“The choices people make will make a difference in how this era of homes is preserved well into the future,” Tyler says. “We have so many homes of this specific design era in Sacramento and we hope to inspire people to consider a more thoughtful preservationist approach to remodeling these gems.”