A whirlwind romance, combined with a love for golf, has turned a 50-year-old home into a gorgeous gathering spot for friends and a quiet, contemporary nest for a couple.

Dr. William “Bill” Holvik and his wife, Sahar, excitedly opened their stunning home to Lifestyle magazine. After living through an extensive home renovation, the couple took a collective deep breath and explained how their new home near the Visalia Country Club came to be.

While the renovations took just five months to complete, their love story began at an iconic Visalia restaurant in December 2014, after the Christmas Tree Auction gala fundraiser. In a packed Rose Room at the Vintage Press, the couple was introduced by a mutual friend, and they enjoyed lively conversation and cocktails until the wee hours of the morning. As they said farewell, both knew that they had met the person they would spend the rest of their life with. They were engaged within three months and married in April 2016 on Catalina Island.

It is important to remember these locations as we fast-forward to today, as both have intertwined themselves into the couple’s life. Catalina Island, in particular, is not only a component of their home decor but of their generous spirit.

Blending Lives

Bill and Sahar bonded quickly over mutual loss — they both endured the death of a child and their mothers to lung cancer. Honoring their loved ones while forging ahead on a home that represented a fresh start was paramount.

After their wedding, the couple knew that they wanted to find a house to transform into their own home. Months of looking yielded no results. Avid golfers and patrons of the country club, they soon realized that they should simply move closer to the putting greens and fairways.

“It made sense to be part of the neighborhood,” Sahar said. “All of our friends are here. Plus, you just can’t find homes like this anymore.”

They actually toured their home twice in the span of a year — it had come on and off the market — before recognizing its potential. They moved in December 2018 and, in time to celebrate their third wedding anniversary, held a grand open house in April with their neighbors, friends and family gushing at its grandeur.

Rich, ridged wooden double doors stand out to guests as they approach the front elevation and enter the home. A black baby grand piano lends elegance to the foyer as the kitchen opens up on the left and a formal dining room with seating for eight leads the eye to the right.

A combination of contemporary and traditional furniture and soft lighting give an immediate impression to guests that the home is vast and trendy, yet welcoming all at once. A 300-pound glass chandelier illuminates the space appropriately, while huge pillar candles placed perfectly around the foyer emit a soft glow.

Walking toward a step-down living room with a comfy sectional and the only remaining original flooring in the home, Bill and Sahar sit down to explain how their 4,722-square-foot home came together so quickly. They spoke under the watchful eye of Avalon, a painting that Bill purchased while on Catalina that depicts a woman as the island’s main town, a harbor full of boats enveloping her like a blanket and the casino at her feet.

Noting its U-shaped layout centered around a beautiful patio, pool and lush, tropical backyard, the couple decided to give each wing a purpose: sleeping and entertaining. In the middle are the gathering places: the kitchen, dining room and living room. Every room in the house, except the kitchen, received a top-to-bottom makeover. Sahar explained that friend Cheri Robertson helped immensely. “Cheri and I have a lot of the same tastes,” she said. “She is my good friend and my interior designer. We had an immediate vision of blending contemporary and traditional. It is a nice combination and many of our friends have commented on how well these styles blend together.”

On the north side of the home, entrances to two comfortable, well-appointed guest rooms as well as the master bedroom line the hallway. In the master bedroom, muted gray tones offer rest and relaxation. All the furniture was sourced at Janeen’s Furniture Gallery in Visalia. A fireplace can be utilized on cold evenings, while sliding glass doors can be opened for fresh air during the day. Even the couple’s sweet dog, Angel, a dachshund-Papillon mix, has her own doggie-door entrance. One of Bill and Sahar’s favorite pastimes is to watch the evening light play off the pool, plants and palm trees as dusk enters, Angel not far from their side.

Catching this light is Sahar’s wedding bouquet, which sits at center stage on their dresser. The ornate, bejeweled creation was handmade and contains many symbols of their lives, all elements that brought them together. Intermingled with silk flowers, it contains pieces of their mothers’ jewelry, two pairs of angel wings for their late children, golf clubs, a red charm containing the letters “VP,” as well as a small Tiffany key from a necklace that Bill presented to Sahar one Valentine’s Day, symbolizing that she holds the key to his heart.

Moving into the large master bath, a dual vanity gives the couple plenty of space to get ready for work, while a large walk-in closet keeps their clothing and shoes organized. Bill jokes that, like most husbands, he has just one small side of the multiple-walled room.

“I am not a fancy-dancy kind of guy,” Bill said. “But this is the stuff she enjoys, so I’ll enjoy it with her.”

Entertaining is Key

The home originally contained five bedrooms, but the Holviks reduced that to three by converting one into a game room and another into a movie room. The game room features a pool table and, of special significance to Sahar, are framed basketball jerseys worn by her late son, Erick. A large-screen television and electric guitars are mounted on another wall, both of which were purchased during local fundraising auctions.

Down the hall, the entrance to the six-seat theater is framed by red velvet curtains and an authentic velvet theater rope used to cordon off certain areas. The movie room features plush red leather recliners, a 140-inch screen and a sound system that makes Bill especially proud. Originally used as a soundproof music room, the brick-lined space was easily turned into a theater. Guests can help themselves to refreshments from a cabinet topped with the ultimate movie memorabilia — a replica leg lamp from “A Christmas Story,” and a wide selection of movies on DVD or via Netflix. The room is lined with framed posters of movies from a bygone era. Also hanging on the wall is a framed poster from Bill and Sahar’s Great Gatsby-themed wedding on Catalina, a perfect addition to the room, which gives a constant reminder of the friends and family who helped them celebrate that day.

Bill is a family physician who has been in Visalia since 1995, originally with Kaweah Sierra Medical Group. He has been in private practice for 20 years. After graduating from UC Davis, the University of Chicago Medical School and completing his residency at UC San Diego, he worked as the only physician on Catalina Island from 1993-95. UCLA Family Practice residents would come out to the island for a month at a time to work with him.

It was during this era that Bill developed an affinity for decorative pottery made when William Wrigley owned the island and the pottery company, known in collector’s circles as Catalina Island Pottery and Tile. It was manufactured on the island from 1927-37, as a division of Wrigley’s Santa Catalina Island Company. The business venture had two purposes: to produce clay building products and to provide much-needed year-round employment for island residents.

One of the home’s best original features is an expansive built-in cabinet running half the length of the hallway. Glass doors allow visitors to peer in to see his extensive collection of colorful bowls, vases and plates.

“I do not collect these pieces based only on their value and appearance,” he said. “I am a sentimentalist and I enjoy these rare pieces. They are valuable to me in that regard.” He is proud of a plate given to him by one of his patients, who presented it to him after cleaning out her parents’ home.

The Holviks return to the island annually, bringing office staff with them to help conduct complimentary sports physicals for Avalon School students. The island’s only school educates students in grades kindergarten through high school and is part of the Long Beach Unified School District.

Also housed in the cabinetry is Bill’s impressive collection of nutcrackers.

The collection began when he gave a nutcracker to his mother and, since her passing, he has kept the tradition going.

Outside, the Holviks also invested in their landscaping in both the front and backyards. “We had to move quickly to get the yards to complement the house,” Sahar said.

The backyard already contained many mature palm trees, but they were so overgrown that they required intense pruning. Pool decking was pressure washed and the pool was drained and replastered. The koi pond, surrounded by lush ferns and waterfalls, features at least 30 large koi, who happily feed when food is scattered on the surface. The couple has their eye on a few more projects in the backyard, including installing a putting green and redesigning the outdoor kitchen. Spending time in the backyard is one of their favorite pastimes when they’re not at work or golfing.

Although the home is on a main thoroughfare to the country club, traffic noise is almost nonexistent in the lush and verdant backyard.

“We love how peaceful it is here,” Sahar said. “We put in a lot of effort to make this house into our home, and we love our neighborhood and our friends. We are really happy with this investment.”