When contractor and homeowner Eric Benning remodeled a dated but promising 1971 Streng home in Sacramento’s Arden-Arcade area, he did so with a deep respect for the house’s original design even as he gave it a thoroughly modern makeover.
“My overall intent was to honor Streng Bros. and their design. But I wanted to use materials that I believe they would use if they were building today and create a floor plan that speaks to how we live now,” explains Benning. “I know some purists who like to restore these homes to their original look—and I respect that—but I didn’t want super-low countertops and vinyl flooring.”
Benning and his wife, Tara, hunted for years for just the right property to remodel—one that required minimal maintenance of the home and yard. “We wanted to make our lives easier,” says Benning. “We set it so we can lock this place up and leave for a month if we want to.”
In devising a layout that functioned well for his family (the youngest of the couple’s four children, Kelsey, lives at home and was involved in the design), Benning relocated the kitchen to one side of the house, allowing for the creation of a great room that positions the dining space as the heart of the four-bedroom, 2,400-square-foot residence.
Mindful of practicality, Benning added an interior door connecting the house to the garage, which was previously accessible only from an outside entry. Nearby, he made space for a functional mudroom, which serves as a convenient place to drop keys, charge phones and store coats.
Flooring throughout the main living space consists of large-format porcelain slab tiles that, although tricky to install, help lend the home its indoor-outdoor vibe—something that Benning was intent upon. “In today’s world, everyone wants a connection to the outside,” he says. As an homage to the Strengs’ distinctive atrium homes, Benning left one corner of the living room untiled so that a fiddle-leaf fig could be planted directly into the ground.
That detail is a fitting tribute from someone whose family, like the Strengs, has a long history in Sacramento design circles. In 1961, Eric’s grandfather, Adrian Benning, purchased A&A Furniture with Buzz Oates. Eric’s father, Bruce Benning, later founded one of the city’s premier interior design firms. Today, Eric carries on the tradition as principal at Benning Design Construction, a design-build firm focused on upmarket residential remodels.
With this stunning and respectful makeover, Benning was able to showcase not only his fervor for midcentury-inspired design but also his firm’s capabilities. “This is our home, but this isn’t just about me and my wife,” he says. “This is about what our team is capable of doing.”
Kitchen backsplash and fireplace surround: Sonoma Tilemakers
Kitchen countertops: Caesarstone
Glass art installation in dining room: SkLO
Dining room pendant: Andrew Neyer
Kitchen cabinetry: Feist Cabinets & Woodworks
Bedroom pendants: Flos