What's Old is New Again


It is one of Sacramento’s grandest houses on Sacramento’s grandest street.

Mira Flores, a Spanish-style estate built in 1928 by a member of the Crocker family, sits behind gates on a sweeping corner lot on iconic Crocker Road. It’s the kind of house that draws attention: California first lady Maria Shriver, looking for a Sacramento home for her family, reportedly inquired about buying it.

But even grand houses occasionally need updating.

We love its history, says Ellen Frink, whose husband, Sacramento auto dealer Bob Frink, bought the house in 1972. However, the couple wanted to bring their historic home into the 21st century. So three years ago, they turned for help to interior designer Joyce Hoshall, known for her luxurious approach to design. Her challenge: to update the house without stripping away its historic charms.

The people who built this house were craftsmen who really cared about their product. It was important to preserve that workmanship, says Hoshall, who won an award for historic preservation from the American Society of Interior Designers for her work on the project.

The house was blessed with beautiful formal spaces and architecture aplenty: arched doorways, thick plaster walls, hand-hewn wood ceiling beams. But its decorative scheme was dated, and it lacked the casual living spaces that the Frinks craved.  

The couple embarked on a two-phase project, first redecorating the public rooms at the front of the house, then adding an expansive family room to the back.

For the living and dining rooms, Hoshall used a sophisticated palette of cream and black, which just happen to be Ellen Frink’s favorite colors. Whenever I use color, I get tired of it, Ellen explains. I can’t live with color for very long.

In both rooms, Hoshall kept the original dark hardwood floors, then faux-grained the ceiling beams, which had been covered in flat paint years earlier. She used decorative painting techniques to give the walls depth and texture: a silver-leaf finish—especially dramatic by candlelight&emdash;for the dining room, a subtly reflective cream-colored glaze for the living room.

In the living room, embroidered silk drapes hang at the windows; a pair of down-filled sofas upholstered in silk linen flank the fireplace. A black-lacquered baby grand, a zebra-skin rug and a mirrored folding screen give the room a dash of old Hollywood glamour.

In the entry, Hoshall retained the cobblestone floor and original arches. Her proudest achievement: To hide an old steam radiator, she designed an iron and mesh console that straddles the old and the contemporary.
Once the front of the house was taken care of, the Frinks and their designer turned their attention to the back of the house. They enclosed a patio to create a sunroom and built a new family room to add about 2,000 square feet to the house.

The family room has three zones: a sitting area, with a massive sectional sofa and a big-screen TV; a circular bar that functions as a satellite kitchen, with built-in refrigerator, cooktop, microwave, two dishwashers, two ovens, trash compactor and another TV; and a game room with a pool table and—yes—a third TV. (The Frinks are avid Kings fans who never miss a game.)

Accordion-style glass doors open up onto the backyard, which has it all: pool, outdoor kitchen and bar, fountains, koi ponds and three separate rose gardens. A full-time gardener cares for the perfectly manicured grounds.
The Frinks are satisfied that they preserved the house’s personality while making it more attractive and functional. I think it turned out beautifully, says Bob. Ellen agrees: You can’t tell where the old ends and the new begins.