Cate and Doug Sheehan's home in the San Fernando Valley is unpretentious, warm, comfortable. When they bought it five years ago, the small, two-bedroom house wasn't the prime attraction; it was the location, its large lot and a huge California live oak tree in the front yard. "And it's zoned for animals, so we can raise game birds and keep horses here if we want to," Doug adds.
"Our friends thought we were crazy to buy a place that needed so much work," Cate says, "but we knew what we were in for. We've made lots of improvements inside and out, including landscaping, and up to now we have done virtually all of it ourselves."
Despite Doug's busy career--a long run on the daytime soap "General Hospital," his current role as Ben Gibson on "Knots Landing" and high visibility as the new Aramis man--he's found time to hone his handyman skills, building on to and remodeling parts of both the Valley house and their rural San Diego County hideaway. And although Cate's done less of the heavy work, she's contributed to the projects as much as Doug.
"We both have strong opinions," Cate says, "and neither of us has difficulty expressing them. But as far as decorating our houses goes, we seem to have similar likes and dislikes, so what you see here is our taste, not his and hers ."
One room that needed major remodeling was the kitchen--an important area for two people who love to cook together. Cate's father, Howard Abert, built the warm pine cabinetry--a successful complement to the deep-green walls of the dining room.
That the Sheehans are incurable romantics is evident throughout the house: in the curtains above their bed, the lace doilies on every sofa and upholstered chair, their collection of English and American hunting paintings and memorabilia. And, from time to time, when the whim strikes them, Doug dons black tie, Cate puts on an elegant outfit and they eat dinner in front of the fire.
"There's a magic that happens when you come in from the day, whether it's after working or hunting or whatever, and get cleaned up and dressed up for the evening meal," Doug says. "The gentry always did this, and many people still do, but it might only seem unusual considering the casual life style we Southern Californians tend to lead."
"Our friends are never shocked--and usually are very pleased and complimented--to be invited to our house for a black-tie dinner," Cate claims.