A neighbor who had never been inside Sonja and Larry Hintz’s home asked if they’d allow it to be a part of the American Association of University Women’s annual home tour that raises money for scholarships.

“She saw Larry out doing the yard and asked and he said, ‘You have to ask the boss,’ ” Sonja Hintz said.

As someone who’d been on the home tour, now in its 67th year, Sonja Hintz wasn’t sure her home was “worthy” of being on the tour.

The neighbor walked through it, asked again, and the couple said yes, making their Brookside-neighborhood residence one of four Stockton homes on this year’s tour that runs from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 the day of the tour.

Perhaps the neighbor was impressed with the exterior, its manicured landscape done by Larry Hintz, the wide cement and brick-lined steps leading to the front door or the nice brown paint job.

Once inside, she’d have been sold immediately on the home that was built in 1992 and is nearly 2,700 square feet.

A carpeted staircase across from the door leads to a floor with two bedrooms and a bath. The living space — great room, kitchen, dining room, den, master bedroom, laundry room and bathrooms — is downstairs, which was perfect for Sonja Hintz’s parents, Jim and Joan Howard, who moved into the home in 2000 to be closer to their daughter and her family.

“They’d lived in the same home in Santa Clara since 1960,” Sonja said. “It was nice home, about 1,900 square feet, but my mom saw this and it was her dream home. She was really happy here.”

The Howards didn’t change a thing, leaving the blue wallpaper, the green accent tiles in the kitchen and on the mantle, the carpets, tan-colored cabinets and trim.

Joan Howard died of cancer in 2004 and the Hintzes sold their own home in another Brookside neighborhood and moved into the home to take care of her dad, who had memory issues.

They started making renovations right away.

“My dad said, ‘Make this home your own,’ ” Sonja Hintz said.

Out went the carpet in the great room and the wood floor in the entry, replaced by travertine throughout both rooms and the kitchen. New tile replaced the old kitchen surface, and the darker wood cabinets were painted a light gray stone.

In time, the rest of the house would be painted, all by Larry and Sonja Hintz except the great room and the entry, which both have walls that reach to the second floor, a height of about 17 feet.

As she sat in her great room talking about the house, Sojna stopped short as she looked through the archway toward the front entrance.

“There’s a cobweb,” she said, jumping up to get it down.

That’s the kind of meticulous care the couple takes of the home. Larry Hintz does the yard work; he’d done it for his in-laws from the time they moved in. His lawn is lush and green, his shrubs nicely sculpted. He even built an elevated planter box for vegetables in his expansive backyard, relying on a YouTube video and lessons from a seventh-grade wood shop class in Santa Clara, where he and Sonja lived and became high school sweethearts.

Sonja Hintz, a skilled seamstress, at one time used to create pillows and valances and other household decor for a local decorator, but then she went to San Joaquin Delta College, beginning when she was 34 and the youngest of her three children was in fourth grade, and earned a nursing degree.

She still enjoys decorating, and she picks up pieces here and there, or makes them. She made the pillows on her matching couches and the couple’s bed.

She loves to clean her house, so it looks immaculate, save the one cobweb, and likely would even if 400 or so ticketholders weren’t planning to tour it on Sunday.

She and Larry Hintz are both retired — he after 37 years of teaching, mostly at Lincoln High School, where he also coached, and she after 17 years as a nurse at Meadowood — and they spend time on their home and with their three kids and five grandkids.

The Hintz home is tastefully decorated — with pieces added over time, bought on sale or repurposed from older furniture — but it’s also livable. When the couple started working on it, they didn’t lose sight of the fact Sonja’s father got around with a walker or that they had young grandkids who came to visit.

It’s a “worthy” home for a tour, but more importantly, it’s a comfortable home that may offer ideas of how others might change their homes.


Contact reporter Lori Gilbert at (209) 546-8284 or lgilbert@recordnet.com. Follow her on Twitter @lorigrecord.