A man’s home is his castle and more

This Roman-style ceremonial sword is part of their living room

Local couple have turned their home into a mini Hearst Castle
with many themed rooms
Bill and Debbie Dudding wanted to escape. With his commute – 50 miles each way to work in San Jose from their Hollister home – he wanted somewhere to get away from it all.

She wanted to do something about their dated furniture, so when they purchased the unassuming one-story in a tract development just off Airline Highway they decided on a fresh start.

The Duddings brought just two pieces of furniture with them from the old house, determined to find something that would give Bill the peaceful home he craved. They decided on a resort feel, and decided to base their own getaway on themed hotels, their love of history and their memories from past vacations.

There’s the Roman formal room, the old European study, the Egyptian room and the Italian Renaissance master suite.

Outside, Mediterranean gardens beckon visitors, their rich terra cotta color scheme enlivened by the ferns and vines that jump out in stark contrast on an otherwise gloomy day.

“When the back yard was finished we had people over, and two or three commented, ‘This really feels like a resort,'” said Bill. “I just went, ‘Yes! We got it right.'”

Another thing they got right was the price: the couple spent just $35,000 in redecorating the entire house – new furniture, wall art, paint, window treatments and all.

They saved a large chunk of money by painting and doing other small jobs themselves, and didn’t go for extravagant touches, like adding arched doorways or custom-made Corinthian columns in the Roman room, opting instead, to buy a pre-fab column and cut it in half.

“We didn’t buy anything unless it was on sale or clearance or markdown,” said Debbie. “We did a lot of bargain shopping, and we did a lot ourselves.”

Debbie made the sachet hooks in the Egyptian room, golden scarab beetles with bits of dowel inserted into their backs to lift them off the wall, and painted antiquing washes in several of the home’s rooms, giving their walls the luster of aged plaster despite the fact that the house was only built a few years ago.

Furniture for the Italian Renaissance-style room eluded them, so the Duddings decided to create some on their own.

They found a bedroom set at the Berryessa Flea Market – the very same set they’d been looking at in a department store for nearly double that price – and had marble toppers added to the bed stands and dresser.

They also antiqued, hung and finished the Roman columns in their formal living room.

“Five years and we’re almost, hopefully finished,” said Debbie.

But really the work of redecorating is never done. Bill still picks up things when he sees items that might go in the house, and Debbie perpetually tells him to keep things simple.

The guest room, also known as the Princess Room, will be the last to go through its transformation. Eventually it will be a medieval room.

Because they spend most of their time in them, the Duddings decided to keep their most-used rooms – the kitchen, family room and bathrooms – as modern, functional spaces, but enjoy retreating to their themed master suite.

“We go places now and I’m like, ‘Wow! This is nice, but I have such a better room at home,'” said Bill. “Now a hotel we stay in has to be pretty special.”


Redecorating can be an extravagantly expensive proposition, but Bill and Debbie Dudding managed to redo their entire home for just $35,000. Here’s how:

They did things themselves. Bill hung the Corinthian columns, and Debbie painted the faux finishes that give two of the rooms their warm glow for a fraction of the cost they would have incurred hiring a contractor to do the job for them. “It’s just paint,” said Debbie. “You can always go over it later.”

They went bargain hunting. “You can’t buy the most expensive or the first thing you see,” said Bill. “We did a lot of our shopping from specialty stores, the flea market, even Costco.” Their bedroom furniture, the exact same set they’d seen in a department store, was only half that price at a flea market.

They stood by their man. The Duddings found a specialty store whose merchandise was mostly Roman-style period reproductions. By continuing to purchase through the same dealer as they decorated the home, the prices they were quoted for art and furnishings declined dramatically – by $200 or more.

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