Name: Bill and Kristina Sager and their dog, Wisco
Location: Fletcher Hills, California
Size: 2,400 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years; Owned
Creative duo Kristina and Bill breathed new life into their San Diego area Mid-century modern home while also lovingly preserving its gorgeous original character. Both Wisconsin natives, the couple met while working together in advertising in Milwaukee. Since moving to San Diego ten years ago, Bill has founded the creative agency Carousel with two business partners, while Kristina works as a copywriter for Sharp HealthCare. In their spare time, the couple are slowly restoring their house to its original glory room-by-room, taking their time to do the job right and loving every minute of the process.
Before purchasing their current home, the couple lived by the beach for a few years and then bought a Spanish bungalow in the neighborhood of Talmadge. It was 750 square feet on a tiny city lot, so they learned to maximize every square inch, even adding a rooftop deck above the garage. Kristina recalls, "While we loved that little bungalow, we eventually started looking for a house with more space. We found our current house and knew that it was our forever house when we saw that one of the electrical boxes had a letterpress switch."
Much to their delight, Bill and Kristina discovered that the previous owner had printing presses in the garage, sparking feelings of an instant creative connection to the home. "The house reminded us of Frank Lloyd Wright’s prairie-style homes from the Midwest," Kristina said. These days, Bill creates art in their spacious detached garage-turned-studio in his free time.
Kristina and Bill purchased their home from the original owner’s son, with the intention of preserving its character and integrity. "Everything in the home was original and untouched, which probably scared some people away but was exactly the reason we loved it," said Kristina. She continues, "The day before we moved in, we met with the owner’s son and got a four-hour tour of the house, complete with details about where the family put their Christmas tree. We know the house meant a lot to the Sheldon family, and having that background and history was important to us. We feel like caretakers of this great home and hope to give it another 50+ years of love."
The couple have kept their promise by only making a few cosmetic updates, such as fresh paint, new appliances, and flooring. They enjoy hunting for the right Mid-century pieces and are enjoying the process of finishing the house a little at a time while not stressing over unfinished spaces. "We had a steady stream of house guests this summer and we loved every minute of it," Kristina mused. She continues, "The house’s layout makes it so easy to entertain. We have intimate spaces for gathering, but enough room to let our guests spread out and unwind." Sadly, the couple's beloved dog, Wisco, passed away recently. His loving spirit will not be forgotten as the couple looks forward to raising a family in their beautiful home.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Mid-century modern that’s warm and inviting
Inspiration: Designspiration, Dwell, Houzz, vintage magazines
Favorite Element: There are so many things we love about this house, including all of the windows and wood beams, but one of our absolute favorites is the fireplace. It looks great all year, but there’s nothing better than sitting around a warm, cozy fire with a glass of wine after a long day.
Biggest Challenge: The house sat vacant for three years before we bought it, so we hit quite a few hiccups our first year. But we were determined to bring the house back to life. It’s still a work-in-progress. We’re tackling the upstairs first and will slowly make our way downstairs room-by-room. We don’t want to buy things just to fill the space. They have to be the right pieces and ones that we both love.
What Friends Say: “It feels like a giant tree house.”
Biggest Embarrassment: All of the old-house quirks that we haven’t gotten around to fixing yet.
Proudest DIY: We had to build a fence with gates to keep our nearly 100-pound yellow lab, Wisco, contained in the patio area. It was tough trying to match the existing fencing, but we had cedar custom-outdoormilled and found a great product called Eco Wood that instantly aged the wood and helped it blend in seamlessly.
Biggest Indulgence: New appliances that were all needed at the same time.
Best Advice: When in doubt, buy! We’ve missed out on a few great vintage pieces because we hesitated. If it doesn’t work out when you get the piece home, chances are you can probably easily sell it again on Craigslist.
Dream Sources: A weekend of estate sales in Palm Springs and a semi-trailer to fill at the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena.
We’ve been collecting Mid-century pieces since we’ve had places of our own, and have always enjoyed the hunt of vintage shopping. Almost all of our furniture has had a previous life in someone else’s home.
Our Danish teak dining table was one of our best finds on Craigslist. The seller inherited it from his grandma’s friend, and it was just sitting in his garage for years. The son of the previous homeowners stopped by recently and said his parents had an almost identical table. It made us feel good that the table was getting a second life and that we’re staying true to the house itself.
It’s all original except for the appliances. Kristina loves to cook, so the open floor plan and the outdoor pass-through are perfect for entertaining. The giant lazy Susan is also pretty amazing for storage.
- Dresser: Rusty Gold in North Park (no longer in business)
- Architect: Richard John Lareau (1961)
- Fencing: custom-milled cedar treated with Eco Wood
- Miscellaneous resources: Kobey’s Swap Meet in San Diego, Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena, Craigslist, antique stores, thrift stores
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Thanks, Bill & Kristina!
(Image credits: Bridget Pizzo)