Dwelling: True Love

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An interior designer and her contractor husband create a home that’s just perfect—for them.

To hear Ricki Stevens talk about her East Sacramento home is to hear her count her blessings again and again. “I feel like I’m the luckiest girl in the world,” she says.

An interior designer and co-owner of home furnishings and gift boutique La Maison Marché on H Street, Stevens and her husband, Dan, a general contractor and custom furniture builder, bought their circa-1939 house 15 years ago with all of its major remodeling done—one of the many reasons Stevens feels fortunate.

“What we’ve done has been mostly cosmetic,” she says, adding one big exception: a multipurpose pool house Dan built. His woodworking shop (where all his “fun stuff happens”) is in the front. The side that faces the pool serves as a TV room/game room/hangout space for daughters Courtney, 14, and Emily, 11. At one time, Stevens used it for her home office, but she moved that inside the house when she opened the H Street shop she co-owns with Laura Satran. While the Stevenses’ home is a cozy 1,700 square feet, there’s not only a place for everything, it’s precisely the right place. Which brings up the subject of true love.

“There’s a fine line between liking and appreciating certain styles and knowing what you can live with,” Stevens says. “My style is very eclectic but traditional, overall, and I like a little European flair. I like layering and detail. I’m a big believer in not looking at a space and saying I need to fill it, and then settling for whatever I can find to put in that space. I’m a big believer in saying you have to find things you truly love. At the end of the day, you want to come home to your home and love it. . . . You don’t want to look at a space and say, ‘Why did I buy that?’ I’m not a big fan of wasting money.”

But doesn’t it take superwoman strength to resist bringing home one of everything that comes through the shop? “When I first opened, it was challenging,” Stevens says, laughing, “but I’m far more selective today.”

Practicality, for example, is big. “Every-thing in here is kid- and pet-friendly,” Stevens says as she talks about her living room. She’s had white sofas only since she discovered a company that makes washable custom slip-covers for its furniture pieces. Underneath, both sofas are sturdy cotton duck, but one sofa has a cotton slipcover, the other a cotton-linen blend. After washing, they’re as fresh, clean and taut as a new pair of jeans.

Practicality also came into play during a kitchen “face-lift.” The appliances were replaced and the countertops are now granite instead of 1980s Formica, but the oak cabinets from a previous owner’s remodel still had plenty of life in them. “We had them professionally repainted, and Dan took out some of the insets and replaced them with glass to give them an updated, open look,” Stevens explains. To juice up the backsplash, they opted for jaunty diamond-shape concrete pieces stained three different colors.

The bedrooms and baths got makeovers, too. With its gleaming white tub and hexagonal floor tiles, the girls’ bath has a homey, vintage feel. And here’s a surprise: Dan Stevens didn’t build the sink vanity; Ricki found exactly what she wanted at exactly the right price at Pottery Barn. “Sometimes, you just want to get something done fast,” she says. Other things took more time. Take the 1906 upright piano the family found on Craigslist. True to form, they didn’t buy a piano until they found one they adored.

Clearly, Stevens is a woman who knows true love. “It’s funny,” she says. “Dan and I have worked on this house for 15 years, which feels like forever, but we just love every aspect of it. It’s perfect for us.”

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