The Cline Home: New Traditions, Old Charm
Before meeting Sheila and her son Paden in 2007, Randy Cline hadn’t put up a Christmas tree in his home for 17 years. When his mother passed away in the early ‘90s, Randy inherited his childhood home where he lived as a bachelor until his mid-50s. During those years, decorating for Christmas and participating in holiday traditions was never a priority, but that quickly changed once Sheila and her son came into his life.
“Between work and travel, I just didn’t decorate,” said Randy. “I had this huge house, but I lived here by myself and I was never home, so I didn’t have a reason to decorate. But when I got married and suddenly had a little one living here, I became really excited about putting up a tree and doing all of that.”
When Sheila first met Randy 10 years ago, she and her son used to sneak into his home while he was away to decorate, cleverly implementing a “Grinch” theme. While Randy is a far-cry from being a “Grinch,” his nearly two-decade hiatus from participating in holiday festivities was in stark contrast to Sheila’s love for all things Christmas.
“I always went all out for Christmas, even before having kids,” said Shelia. “But I’m like that with every holiday. Even when I lived up in Sequoia National Park, out in the middle of nowhere with no visitors, I had Christmas lights.”
Now that Randy’s property is home to Sheila, her 14-year-old son Paden, and their four-year-old son Stevie, decorating for Christmas has become a family tradition they all enjoy doing together. Sheila says Randy went from one extreme to the other, as the home now has a Christmas tree in nearly every room.
Christmas decorating isn’t the only tradition the Clines partake in together, however. Both Randy and Sheila are avid antique collectors and have filled their home with hundreds of vintage pieces and collector items, many of which go back to the 1920s and ‘30s. From authentic art deco lighting fixtures to medieval-inspired furniture items, the Clines enjoy the pursuit of finding authentic pieces to implement inside their 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival home.
“It’s been really fun to outfit the home with stuff from the era it was built in,” said Randy. Sheila added, “Part of the fun is the search to find something, and even if we don’t find what we’re looking for, we enjoy going on the hunt together.”
Randy’s fascination with antiques goes back to his childhood when he began collecting old railroad locks, but it took on a life of its own in the ‘90s when he decided to restore his family home and bring it back to its original 1920s style. When his parents moved into the house in 1958, they modernized it by painting most of the wooden surfaces white, adding a flagstone fireplace, white shag carpet, and modern fixtures.
While many people might choose to update their home to coincide with today’s trends, Randy did the opposite. He set out on a mission to bring his home backwards in time. In fact, much of the inspiration for the design and décor pieces came from the world-famous Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California.
“The Hearst Castle look is what I was going for,” said Randy. “I’ve loved it since I was a little kid, so a lot of the furniture pieces I chose make it look dark and gothic in here. None of this was here when I moved back in.”
Because his parents had painted over the original wood surfaces of the home in the 1950s, Randy hired a painter to strip the paint and refinish the wood throughout the house. This task was just as daunting as it sounds, and took 17 straight weeks—Monday through Friday—for the painter to strip and refinish every door and baseboard. Randy also had the the white shag carpet removed to expose the stamped concrete underneath, which added another “gothic” element to the home’s medieval flair.
While Randy’s parents had updated most of the features throughout the house in the ‘50s, there were still some original elements that had been preserved. Among them were the ceiling beams in the family room, as well as the unique texturing on the walls.
“I’ve had so many contractors come in here who go on and on about the texturing,” said Randy. “Just the other day we had a tile guy up here and he said, ‘I can’t believe this texturing…they don’t do things like this anymore.’”
Though Randy and Sheila have updated most of the home throughout the years, there are still areas they would like to restore, like the flagstone fireplace, the laundry room, and the kitchen, which still has a Formica backsplash from 1958.
One of the home’s most festive rooms during the holidays is the formal dining room. Though it hasn’t been used for actual dining since Randy was living there as a child, it is always decorated for each holiday and is used as a buffet when the Clines host events. While the medieval style table certainly draws some attention from guests, the star in the room is “Max,” a suit of armor that is believed to be from the William Randolph Hearst collection.
“Hearst had the largest collection ever assembled of medieval armor, and in fact, there’s a picture in a book I read on Hearst of all of his suits of armor lined up in a New York warehouse as far as the eye can see,” said Randy. “I’ve always wanted a suit of armor ever since I was a kid.”
While most of the Hearst-inspired décor can be found in the interior of the home, a few elements flow into the backyard including several white marble statues, which are playfully decked out in Santa hats during the holidays. The rest of the backyard is a beautiful and unique mix of landscape styles surrounded by lush grounds, a pool, and a Spanish-style pool house.
In the early ‘90s, Randy started what he calls “The Project” by removing everything in the yard right up to the edge of the house. From there, he brought in 2,000 square cubic yards of fill dirt to construct two terraces and install a swimming pool.
“I completely changed everything that was in this yard all the way up to the house,” said Randy. “I took out 17 trees and an oval-shaped pond that was out there. All of this was just grass. It looks nothing like it did before.”
Now when guests enter the backyard, they step onto a beautiful terrace and lawn where Randy and Sheila were married. An antique fire hydrant water fall trickles down to a partially-hidden pool, surrounded by a forest of trees and plants in every variety. Along the winding path, guests encounter a Spanish-style pool house on the left with a covered patio and quaint outdoor kitchen. When the path arrives at a beautiful, white archway, visitors are welcomed to the pool and spa, which are covered by the shade of countless billowing trees.
Just west of the pool is a secret garden area called “Stevie’s Jungle,” where a long, narrow gap between trees provides a perfect hideout for the Clines’ youngest son. Just below the jungle, a path leads to “Paden’s Treehouse,” which features a wooden skywalk, a treehouse, and a deck overlooking the City of Porterville.
The backyard has been a work-in-progress for Randy since the ‘90s, and continues to evolve each year with the help of their talented gardener, Guillermo, who has planted, built, constructed, and crafted countless corners of their yard.
“He is amazing,” said Randy. “He is here two-and-a-half days a week, and he can do absolutely anything. He and his wife built that arch by the pool. He does electrical, concrete, floral, carpentry, pretty much anything. We were so appreciative of him building the arch that we put a plaque in there for him and his wife.”
Randy and Sheila said Guillermo often starts surprise projects without telling them what he’s doing, and they always love the end result. He’s done everything from putting in walkways to planting a cactus garden to constructing “Stevie’s Jungle.”
“There seems to be something new every time we come back here,” said Sheila. Randy added, “None of this was part of the original backyard design; this was all Guillermo. He just put this stuff in on his own. The only thing we had in the plans for the landscape was the pool and the pool house.”
Now that Randy is retired from the Porterville Fire Department after 37 years, he looks forward to spending more time enjoying his yard and home while spending time with his family. But retirement won’t keep him down for long. He continues to work for the Tulare County Sherriff’s Department and already has plans to volunteer for the fire department. As a Porterville native, Randy is passionate about serving his community, and he is proud that he could restore his childhood home and enjoy it with his new family.
“Being able to live here has always meant a lot to me because I was raised here my whole life,” said Randy. “My favorite thing about this house has been taking it back to the 1920s and outfitting it with things from that era. And Sheila came in at the tail end of it, so we’ve been able to do a lot of changes together. It’s been a blessing.”