William and Margaret Cantlon
Retired Reno optometrist William Cantlon grins like a delighted adolescent on Christmas morning as he heads down the stairs of his newly renovated house. “Now, we have to go down to the billiards room,” he says. “That’s another room that’ll get used—and then some.” William and his wife, Margaret “Cindy” Cantlon, bought the 9,000-square-foot home built by Judge Craven and his wife, Margaret, in 1948. Cindy, an interior designer who’s studying to become a certified feng shui designer, wanted to turn the renovation of her new home into a community service project. So she got together with the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Nevada to turn her place into a Designer Showcase Home. More than a dozen designers, floor specialists and landscape artists worked together to turn the run-down mansion into something spectacular, something worthy of a public tour. The Cantlon’s home will be open for guided tours from Sept. 28 to Oct. 12. Advance tickets are $25, and can be purchased by calling Big Brothers Big Sisters at 352-3202. I interviewed the Cantlons last week in the home while designers and gardeners put some finishing touches on the house, and utility workers busily puttered around in a long trench in the backyard.
What’s your favorite room?
Cindy: I love the library. [Designer John Ludwig] used all my books, my accessories, my screens. … So many of our things are already in place, it feels like home.
William: This room is going to get used and then some.
Cindy: [The designer’s] taste in furniture is exquisite. I’m buying it all.
Is the furniture that you don’t own for sale?
William: Yes, it is. People can walk through, and if they see something they like … We get the first shot at it, but if two people want something, it can be ordered.
What drove the decision to do this fund-raiser?
Cindy: Bill and I bought the house with the intention of doing community service over a two to three-year period. We’re both retired, and we’re both fifth-generation Nevadans. We’ve been here forever. This city’s been wonderful to us. We don’t travel. Our friends are all empty-nesters, like us, and they’re back and forth to Europe. But we decided to just do community service. Also, Bill’s loved this house since he was a child. And we couldn’t justify having 29 rooms for two people.
What other groups will you raise funds for?
Cindy: The arts, the symphony and the ballet. Also, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. Bill has had diabetes since age 4. Children are our first love and our first priority.
So, Bill, you fell in love with this house as a child?
Bill: I was eight years old and we lived three blocks away, at Manor and Monroe [streets]. My mother used to walk with me up to the top of the hill, where my Uncle Jack Horgan—of the commercial hardware fame—owned a 20-acre pasture. That was at Plumb and Sharon. We had horses there, and we’d ride. I watched them start building this house back in 1948.
How long do you plan to live here?
Cindy: We’ll do this for a couple of years, then we’ll downsize and enjoy spending time with our grandchildren. … But once we get settled, we may just decide to grow decrepit here.