Reality Realty: Woodsy retreats featured on HGTV’s ‘Rustic Rehab’


Yes, there are septic tanks in Paradise, along with rodents and termites.

HGTV’s “Rustic Rehab,” hosted by David and Chenoa Rivera, is based in Paradise, a town that’s pushed up against the Sierra Nevada range 90 miles north of Sacramento.

The show employs the standard rehab formula: budget-buster surprises, tight time frames, demolition delight and lots of perennial potential. HGTV launches the premiere season April 26.

We caught up with the Riveras in the former gold mining and lumber mill town, population 26,396.


Describe Paradise for us.

Chenoa: I call it our mini Lake Tahoe. We have four seasons, huge pine trees and a canyon on either side. It’s close to Lake Oroville, and there’s also Paradise Lake.

David: Many homeowners have main homes in the Bay Area, and it’s a source for lots of vacation rentals. Also, people in Napa and Sacramento have second homes here.

What are the homes like?

David: There’s lots of wood in the properties — vaulted ceilings with exposed wood beams and knotty pine.

Chenoa: There’s a mixture of cabin-style and older ranch-style homes. Also Craftsman.

What are some of the rustic looks that you use?


Chenoa: We often look to the fireplace and update the backdrop with a decorative element like a herringbone pattern in a ceramic tile. I gear the design to the originality of the house — from modern to farmhouse.

Imagining Paradise, we envision a deck with a mountain view and the scent of smoke from a wood-burning stove.

Chenoa: Some places lack central heat and air, so a wood-burning stove is the main source of heat. We repurpose vintage ones or go for a new, sleek and modern look.

Decks and roofs must take a beating in the mountain environment.

David: There’s a lot of rot, and our area is known for termites and carpenter ants. Most decks cost a minimum of $2,000 to replace.

Paradise is one of the country’s largest municipalities without a sewer system. You must deal with tons of septic tank issues.

David: All the time. Every house has a septic tank. We get septic tanks from the 1940s, ’50s, ’60s. The concrete cracks, or there’s root intrusion. If the house is on a low water table, it may need an engineered septic system. That’s about $40,000 to $55,000 to replace one of those, and $4,500 to put in a fiberglass tank.

We love the sliding barn doors you installed at the entry to a former dining room.

Chenoa: Our contractors specialize in woodworking, so they purchased the material, added decorative wood pieces and stained it with a shade that allows the wood to shine through. It’s one of the first things you see when you walk in. It gives the home a warm, cozy cabin feel.


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