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You Gotta Have Friends
East Sac Homeowner Finds Friendly Inspiration When Building Anew
By Cathryn Rakich
t’s good to have friends. That’s what Dr. Patrick Browning came to embrace when he committed to the daunting task of designing, constructing and decorating his new abode.
“I had this great complementary group of friends who each had their own skill set that was perfect for building this place,” Browning says.
The East Sacramento resident was comfortably living on 33rd Street when presented with the opportunity to purchase a nearby fixer-upper that had been used as a rental by people “who were not good stewards of the home,” he says.
Not one to shy away from a challenge, Browning bought the property, took the house down to the studs and rebuilt to his mind’s eye.
“I didn’t plan to leave my house on 33rd, but I felt I could make this a really good home,” explains Browning, a radiologist and vice president/medical director of specialty services at Magellan Healthcare.
The new 2,850-square-foot two-story home has three bedrooms, each with a full bath, plus an office and two additional bathrooms, one in the garage for a future studio apartment.
Hardwood floors are hickory, the ideal shade to conceal dog hair courtesy of his bluenose pit bull, Murphy. Ceramic floor tiles in the kitchen, family room and master bathroom are heated. “Tile floors are really cold,” Browning says. “The family room and kitchen are places people hang out, so I thought it would be nice if they were warm.”
Curved walls and a spiral staircase with walnut railings are prominent features in the home designed by Sacramento architect John Packowski, who was inspired by Browning’s unique dining table—a round “puzzle table” made of reclaimed Romanian barnwood with an intricate puzzle-like construction that expands to seat eight.
“John had never seen anything like it,” Browning says. So the architect took the table’s circular nature and carried the design throughout the home.
A light industrial flair is highlighted in the architecture, as well as in Browning’s art collection, with many pieces by friend and local artist Maren Conrad. “She is a very active member of the art community in Sacramento,” Browning notes. “By virtue of knowing her, I have run into artists who are exceptionally talented.”
Among Conrad’s art are two vertical copper and silver resin panels concealing doors in the curved dining room wall that open to reveal Browning’s wine collection. A 16-panel folding Conrad creation hides the television placed into the wall over the fireplace. “When closed, it looks like a big piece of art,” Browning says.
A ceramic warthog with intense orange eyes, by the late artist David Gilhooly, stands guard across from the front door, similar to the celebrated Chinese foo dogs that “take in bad energy and protect the house,” Browning explains.
A show-stopping copper-plated “spear,” by metal artist Thomas Ramey, hangs through the center of the spiral staircase from the second-floor ceiling, complementing the clean industrial look. Five Darth Vader masks, by art instructor Ianna Frisby, grace the upstairs hallway, a nod to Browning’s affection for Star Wars.
The kitchen’s dramatic backsplash of custom tile made in Canada has the appearance of metal and wood with a fossilized shimmer. “I love that it has complexity,” Browning notes. “It provides a lot of interest and pulls everything together,” including the high-end stainless-steel appliances, walnut cabinets and unfinished granite countertops from Brazil.
The “smart home” can be controlled from Browning’s phone or voice-controlled system. The homeowner, who went electric with as much as possible, added solar panels above the kitchen. Surround-sound speakers are embedded in the 9-foot-high ceilings.
In the upstairs master bedroom, an enclosed glass fireplace “floats” between the bed and freestanding tub. Two skylights bring in the sunshine. The shower walls, with elongated windows overlooking the backyard, curve out onto the deck for an outdoor-shower effect. A large hot tub sits to the right.
Downstairs off the family room, a massive five-panel folding glass door opens to the backyard, creating an easy flow to the patio with industrial overhead heaters for alfresco entertaining. An outdoor spiral staircase leads to the master bedroom for easy access to a sweater on a chilly night.
Sacramento contractor Ken Dyer and interior designer Kimberly Dressel kept the project on track. “There were so many decisions to make,” Browning says. “Kimberly got a sense of my style and was able to narrow down choices, making it easier for me.”
What does the doctor recommend for homeowners planning a major renovation? Friends, of course. “Have your friends look at the plans,” he says. “Bringing my friends in to look at things gave me a much better perspective than I might have had myself.”
To recommend a house or garden for Home Insight, contact Cathryn Rakich at firstname.lastname@example.org.