Westward ho-me

Westward ho-me
Date Published: October 20, 2006
A distinctive fireplace sets the tone of the "cactus" room, where George and Kimberly Hess do much of their entertaining. At top, The Hesses relax on the patio. Below right, terracotta pots accentuate the Southwestern theme outside the home. - P

Focus. Keeping at eye on the long-range goal. That's what brought a bit of the American Southwest to Loomis.
And that's what George "Bernie" Hess and his wife Kimberly did when they remade a 1,500-square-foot house into a 4,000-square-foot home on four acres off Horseshoe Bar Road in Loomis
The project was a 16-year labor of love for the couple, who moved from the Bay Area to Loomis. George and Kimberly are the owners of George B. Hess Construction, general contractors and builders of custom homes.
"We were considering building in El Dorado Hills," George said this week. "We had a business in the Bay Area we were selling, and one day my agent called and said he had a piece of property (for us to look at)."
When George saw the property, with its green front lawn amid the surrounding dry lands, he immediately thought this was the place - pending approval from Kimberly.
The couple moved into the stucco home and began their renovation to a Southwestern style.
Why Southwestern?
When George and Kimberly were on a trip to Arizona, they walked into a home and immediately "fell in love with the simplicity and timelessness of the Southwest style," they said.
"It's forever," Kimberly said. "When you look at it 200 years from now, it will still be fresh."
They started by adding floor space on to each side of the rectangular structure, each end made with rastra, a material filled with concrete.
The finished product is 14-inches thick and offers the maximum in insulation.
The roof is made of Gladding-McBean tiles, but not just any tiles, George said.
"We went all around the area - Marysville, Chico - where they were tearing down a building and bought the antique tile," he said.
Inside, the tile floors cover a radiant heating system for those cold winter mornings.
George and Kimberly did about 80 percent of the work on the project, getting help mainly with the roof.
"Kimberly painted every one of the rooms by herself," George said. "I don't do paint. She also made all the drapes."
Included in the project was a wine cellar, something George had his mind set on from the beginning.
"We dug a true underground cellar," Kimberly said. "It looks like a cave."
One end of the three-bedroom, three-bath home includes a spacious kitchen with a large island and pantry, a formal dining room and small sitting room containing a fireplace, couch, comfortable chairs and flat-screen television. It's where the couple spends most of their free time.
Down the hall, the master bedroom is large and spacious and bright. The big master bath has a spa-tub and separate shower.
One of the bedrooms, at the other end of the house, has been converted into an office, from where the construction business is run.
George and Kimberly entertain often in the large "cactus" room, which has a big fireplace, large-screen television with surround sound, pool table and wet bar - and the entrance to the wine cellar.
The décor is strictly - and authentic - Southwest. Even the exposed pine ceiling beams are from the Southwest, George said.
The home is filled with western artifacts, including some Native American relics dating back 1,000 years or more.
More modern items include a pistol used by movie icon John Wayne in the movie "The Train Robbers," and spurs worn by television's Lone Ranger Clayton Moore.
Still in the works is landscaping the back area.
"It's truly been a labor of love," George said.