What do you get when you combine a Mechanical Engineering Degree, childhood art classes, a Division Fire Chief from West Sacramento and two talented daughters: The Heilmann family living in their eclectic, traditional home in the Wildhorse neighborhood of Davis, California.
How can a tract home embody the essence of eclectic design? By definition, eclectic style doesn’t rigidly adhere to any one major style. It is characterized by a freedom of expression and vibrant individuality. It works when the basic principles of design (line, color, texture, mass and form) are understood and work together to create a unified design. Eclectic style reflects personality. And, if you know any of the Heilmanns you’ve experienced their contagious zest for life!
The story begins in Marin County when John and Moira dated while attending Marin Catholic High School . After graduation John headed to San Jose State University where he played football with the Spartans, and Moira went even further south to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo majoring in Mechanical Engineering. Shortly after their college graduations they married and lived in Novato before arriving in Davis . Both John and Moira work in West Sacramento, for the West Sacramento Fire Department and Siemens Health Care Diagnostics, respectively.
Once their children were approaching school age they considered remodeling their post-war home on lovely tree-lined Harvard Drive. At the time, however, the neighborhood did not bustle with other young families like theirs. They decided to search for a new home within Davis . A small classified in the paper stated, “For Sale by Owner” with a phone number and an address on Whistler Court . An appointment was set, Moira did the walk-thru and after a phone call with John they put their deposit on the house. The four bedroom, three bath home was originally purchased by a couple whose business was in the home building industry, and before they moved in a multitude of upgrades were installed making it more of a semi-custom home than a generic tract home.
The most attractive selling feature to John and Moira were all the other families clustered on this child-friendly cul-de-sac. With parks within walking-distance, a nature trail around the Wildhorse Golf Course and Birch Lane School around the corner, it was the home they wanted for their daughters, Rosey and Lily.
The front-yard hardscape is dressed with a welcoming brick walkway in a time-honored pattern. The front door is buffered by a simple iron gate with trained greenery flanking its sides. From the curb it is noticeable that extra planning and thought was taken with this home. Once inside it’s even more obvious. The front room and its soaring ceilings are defined with elegant crown molding and seven inch base molding. All the windows are trimmed out with hardwood millwork, a feature commonly deleted by builders of large subdivisions. The wall to wall tile floors indicate informality to the home, yet the furnishings in the living and dining room are anything but. This is the first example of Moira’s eclectic style.
Moira has created her own mix of family heirlooms alongside incredible finds from eBay, flea markets and area stores. It’s incorrect to think with an eclectic style one can just add anything to a room. It’s actually a very hard look to pull off successfully. When applying eclectic style one must select the best of everything, layering and mixing for contrast and surprise but still balance it all to create harmony – synchronicity in design.
Incorporating various finishes and textures sets an eclectic look apart from the rest. The side chairs in the living room were purchased off eBay. Moira loved the silhouette of the chairs. She simply had them recovered in a wheat-colored linen fabric and added burnished bronze nailheads all at Allied Custom Upholsterers in Sacramento (916-922-1838). The Venetian glass side table and wall sconces contrast effectively with the rustic tile floor and the mahogany armoire. An antique European wool rug anchors the sitting area with its soft palette of salmon and wheat. Those colors are echoed in custom sofa pillows made from fabrics Moira pulled from her textile collection. You see when she’s not at Siemens working, volunteering at Birch Lane or attending her daughters’ sports meets and games – you’ll find Moira scouring area flea markets with a keen eye or surfing the web one of her favorite blog spots (www.absolutelybeautifulthings.blogspot.com) reading about design and crafting.
Peeking through the glass-front doors of the office one sees a working office and a collection of classroom globes of all sizes. A large roll-down classroom map is another indicator that this family is going places, especially Moira on her quests for those special, unexpected finds. This mother of two has the gift of being not only a left-brained analytical engineer, but a right-brained creative thinker. From an early age Moira took painting classes and enjoyed art. Some of her own pieces are showcased in their home today. Family treasures are sprinkled throughout the home: Moira’s grandparents’ queen bed and dresser are in the guestroom. A recovered tin ceiling tile framed in a shadow box hangs above the mahogany bed frame. In the guestroom closet is a treasure-trove of arts and crafts supplies, plus that textile collection! If Moira could add any room to the house it would be a craft room.
Moira’s passion and talent for color and fabrics launched a side business a few years ago: Lily Rose Designs. She creates handbags and totes, personalized plaques and custom-painted mirrors. Moira gets inspiration from designers like Victoria Hagen and Vicente Wolf, as well as from area stores like Nestware in Davis , Haus and Fringe in Sacramento, and lifestyle icon – Martha Stewart. Moira is definitely one in the know for hot trends! All of this visual influence is reflected in her home, as well as her own creations. Did I mention she’s a “chic crafter” as well?
Highlighting the wall of the staircase are heirloom oval frames with glass domes which feature priceless black and white portraits of the girls (www.berhardportrait.com). The style of these portraits takes one back to a refined era in time and sit so well across from the round parquet dining table (another eBay find).
Eclectic style mixes things up, pulling together both old and new for a design style that can vary from room to room. Such is the case walking into the family room and kitchen. A large, comfortable sectional sits across from the fireplace and a custom armoire, hiding a Mitsubishi HD projection television. With a flick of the remote, Hunter Douglass automatic blinds come down and it’s “showtime”! Surround sound in the family room and stereo speakers are strategically positioned inside and outside. A large dining table from L Street Furniture in Davis divides the room and is grounded by a wood buffet and hutch painted in black housing a collection of whiteware ceramics. The en masse grouping is striking. Sitting atop the black open hutch is a large decoupaged mailbox in bright reds and yellows begging for a second look. Opposite the whiteware is a standing antique ceramic tub and an arrangement of brown and white transferware ceramics.
Behind each “find” is an engaging story of acquisition. One such tale was from a trip Moira planned taking a group of Davis friends to the Alameda Flea Market on none other than The Mexican Bus ! Another story is about the annual Bizarre Bazaar at the University Retirement Center in Davis . Moira’s mother purchased a gift for Moira there – a watercolor of colorful pears by artist Polly Marion. It hangs above the seating area in the family room. All of these keepsakes have meaning and personality, and reflect thoughtful appreciation of old and new.
Chocolate-brown and caramel-colored granite slab countertops add drama to the kitchen area as does the large pot rack over the expansive island. The custom-designed hood over the stove top is hand-painted with a delicate motif and adds a slight touch of femininity to the room. The island is the perfect space for noshing on appetizers at one of the Heilmann’s impromptu dinner parties or for craft-making with the girls and their friends.
The floor plan offers the perfect flow for entertaining. The great room’s slider opens up to a gracious outdoor living space. A custom overhang and lattice-trimmed surround with bench seating outlines the space for a classic glass-top and black iron outdoor dining table. A pair of bench-swings hangs under the overhang and looks out to a spacious pool and raised deck. The backyard is the family’s favorite spot – especially John’s – during the warm weather months. There is enough space for a large group (West Sac Fire Dept., for example) to hang out into the evening hours – barbecue going, outdoor speakers playing and Zoe, the family’s Labradoodle, catching any ball thrown!
Upstairs are sleeping rooms and bathrooms, plus a playroom loft. At the top of the stairs is the open playroom. Centered in the room is a bank of built-in shelving and bench seating. A collection of classic toys and retro accessories in apple red and cobalt blue are featured on the shelves. The same colors are repeated in the striped fabric for the bench cushion. The girls and their friends play games, watch movies or play with their Wii in the loft. This space houses toys, books, comfortable seating, and of course personal touches like the turn-of-the-century child’s wicker rocker given to Rosey by her aunt.
The master bedroom is more like a suite or a retreat with its fireplace in the large bedroom, and the bathroom’s jet tub and multi-head shower. In this more personal space treasured pictures dot shelves and books are stacked at the bedsides. The spa-like bathroom has a chandelier over the jet tub. It provides a luxurious escape, as does the six-head oversized shower. Vanity accessories in glass and sterling silver add elegance to the space, and one of Moira’s oil paintings on canvas personalizes the room further.
The girls’ bathroom reflects a refined personality with a vintage curio cabinet displaying sterling silver baby cups, frames and a twin bell clock. Down the hall black and white photographs of a rose and a lily announce the children’s bedrooms. One room in lilac and the other in sage green, both girls have antique iron beds and vintage accessories amidst current-day toys and pop-icon posters.
The sum of all of the home’s parts is a result of Moira’s eye for decorating. John and Moira recognized the family-friendly neighborhood, recognized the quality in building enhancements and added their own assortment of furnishings and accessories to create the exciting home it is. Balancing traditional with whimsical in a harmonious manner takes confidence and sophistication; this family on Whistler Court has created a winning recipe, blending a variety of design elements into an eclectic atmosphere that is inviting and comfortable.
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