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Detailed design



MARCH 2010


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ince the family entrance is generally through the garage you think they will be when they have more than a narrow pathway to inch their way through to the door? You know what we mean. There is so much “stuff” in the garage that there’s barely room to go in and out, much less park the car! Admit it. It’s embarrassing to open the garage door and have the neighborhood see your mess. Now imagine having the garage floor looking more like a brilliant showroom rather than the ugly stained and dirty concrete you have gotten used to. Innovative new technologies have created floor’ coating systems that can be installed in as little as one day, and driven on the next. And cleanup is as easy as your kitchen floor; simply wipe up spills with a soft cloth or paper towel, all without ever leaving a stain in the finish. One of the biggest surprises in organizing your garage with cabinetry and floor coatings is the expanded living space and utility that is suddenly available, not to mention a home for the family car, boat or .motorcycle, as the space becomes more of a useful extension of your home. The other plus is the increased value additional storage brings to the home. After a thorough sorting of your garage possessions to determine what to keep, toss, and donate, begin the makeover with fully finished, full-back cabinets, The easy-clean melamine interiors are designed to store anything from camping gear to holiday decorations to luggage and golf clubs. Use the upper portions of the cabinets for seasonal storage and the lower sections for items used more frequently. With all-steel construction hardware, high-grade European concealed hinges and cast steel handles, they’re the ultimate in storage solutions. The one-inch thick, fully adjustable shelving can hold a load of 100 lbs. per shelf. The cabinets stand up to harsh temperature extremes and are mounted off the floor to prevent water damage and pest infiltration. Finish the garage makeover with the latest in chemical and stain resistant floor coatings that are designed and engineered for easy cleaning. The exclusive hybrid polymer finishes enhance lighting and eliminate that ugly, dirty look of raw concrete. These coatings, which can be installed quicker and driven on sooner than the traditional “epoxy” floor coatings of the past, turn the garage into a more inviting space that you’re likely to set up your next party or weekend gathering in. The search for durable, attractive garage cabinetry, flooring and organization ends with Premier Garage of the Bay Area. For a one-stop solution to your garage mess, and to schedule a designer, you can call them at 650-286-9676, and visit their website at


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View from the hills | page 26

Haute stuff | page 11

Mark English transforms a hillside house into a sophisticated retreat.

Rocking chairs: sleek versions of a comfy classic.

Detailed design | page 32

Shop talk | page 14

Makeover master and rising star Luke Vahle reworks a stuffy Victorian.

Housed in a former bakery, Trove dishes up handmade finds; Asian

Home buying guide | page 38

simplicity is the hallmark at Gingko.

Create a smarter home with these cool new gadgets.

In style | page 16

Getaways | page 40

March comes in like a lion, with lots of peach and green hues that will make you roar with delight.

A remote Arizona town is the ideal base for exploring desert surroundings. e h h

The tasting room | page 18 Tips for hosting your own wine-tasting party.

The wide world of rice | page 44

In the garden | page 20

A host of colors and varieties diversify this global staple.

From A to Z, these blooms are sure to beat the winter blues.

At the table | page 22 Succulent Pan-American cuisine at Bocanova and innovative American fare at Madera.

Around town | page 42 Things to do, see and enjoy in March.

Also visit us at Design Week 2010 in retrospect


One-name wonder Clodagh shares her design secrets.

get fabulous now spring savings

Flip through the pages of this issue and it becomes clear that it’s all about remarkable remodels, the homes that personify the “before and after” projects that designers love to show-off. For architect Mark English, that was an outdated hillside home he reworked into a sophisticated retreat. For designer Luke Vahle, it was transforming a stuffy Victorian into an airy and stylish pied a terre. If you’re planning your own home makeover, you'll find the latest accessories and furniture, including trendy new rocking chairs. Plus, there’s an A to Z spring planting guide if your makeover is outdoors.

The premier magazine of design

editorial director Kristine M. Carber art director Timothy Tsun contributing designer Sue Tracy departments editor Natalie Martinez

Enjoy the issue.

Kristine M. Carber Editorial Director

staff writer Crystal Chow contributing photographers Andrew Boepple Norma Lopez Molina Kerry Hiroshi Paul Ken Perkins


contributing writers Holly Berecz Craig Summers Black Joan Chatfield-Taylor Joan Jackson Kathryn Loosli Pritchett Stephanie Simons

Spaces Vol. 4, No. 1 ©2010 by the Bay Area News Group. All rights reserved. Material herein may not be reprinted without expressed written consent of the publisher. If you receive a copy that is torn or damaged, call 408.278.3464 for a replacement.

Joan Jackson In the garden | page 20 Like Susan Boyle, I dream a dream. Not as a singer, of course, but as a flower gardener. I dream wistfully about spring: sunny days, giant sunflowers, tiny forget-me-nots, colorful cosmos, butterflies dropping in for a visit. Should I try something new along the walkway, or stick with my favorites? Is this the year for the all-white garden? No matter, it's time to plant tiny seeds, prowl the nursery aisles for something rare and beautiful and haul home the six-packs. Spring is coming, the season of my dreams. 6 SPACES MARCH 2010

Mark English View from the hills | page 26 This Los Altos Hills home was completely redesigned for a couple who enjoy entertaining. It has a great flow, with a brightly colored kitchen enlivening one wing of the house, and balanced by the interconnected piano room, sitting room and great room. The fireplace was inspired by those found in modern hotels, and everything is united by a new bamboo floor. The result is a sophisticated yet comfortable home that the owners had always wanted.

Design by Luke Vahle Photo by Andrew Boepple

EASTERN the furniture company

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The premier magazine of design

targeted publications national editorial director Denise Gee targeted publications director John Stoeser magazine sales manager Monica Balistreri


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for advertising information, call 925.943.8259 or 408.920.5793 For other information, call 408.278.3464

Copyright 2010 Bay Area News Group

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When you sign up for Spaces’ Haute Links newsletter, you’ll get the early scoop on trends in home design and food, rising stars in the industry, Bay Area shop and restaurant openings, special events and more. You’ll also qualify for nifty offers from Spaces and our partners. The subscription is free, so sign up today. Simply email your name with SHL in the subject line to:

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HauteStuff If you’ve always thought of rocking chairs as too stuffy or traditional for your contemporary tastes, we invite you to look again. These sleek designs fit into even the most modern of design schemes. After all, who doesn’t want a comfy place to relax? — Natalie Martinez

Rock your worries away This handmade cherry rocking chair is a spectacular, streamlined version of the classic wooden chair. Each piece is handmade by artist Gregg Lipton and takes up to 20 weeks to create and deliver. $11,000 at


2 1

4 1. Danish-born designer Jens Risom brings Scandinavian style to the rocking chair in his Risom rocker at Design Within Reach. The fabric is made of 78 percent recycled polyester. $1,428 at 4. The Sleepytime Rocker’s refined urban looks work just as well in a contemporary den or tucked into a cozy corner of a bedroom. $900 at or check for local stores that carry the line.


3 2. Emeco’s Hudson Chair, designed by Phillippe Starck and named for the Hudson Hotel in New York, brings an industrial element to any room. According to Design Public, the chairs are made of 80 percent recycled aluminum, which requires only 5 percent of the energy needed to produce virgin aluminum. Also available with arms and in three finishes. From $795 at 3. Anthropologie’s Bresson Rocker boasts a sleek, no-fuss design but the warm brown leather cushion is inviting enough for an afternoon rest. $1,798 at




5. Iglooplay’s diminutive Mod Rocker is a comfy place for little ones to catch up on a favorite book — but it’s also strong enough to hold up to 450 pounds. In three finishes. $285 to $385 at 6. The fluid silhouette of the Luca Glider brings sophistication to a nursery staple. The chair is available in nine colors, with the option of contrasting or matching piping for a customized look. $945 for chair and $385 for ottoman at 7. Artist Richard Laufer custom makes each of these Newport Rockers out of walnut and cherry woods in about six weeks. $3,900 at



Photo by Ken Perkins

Photo by Kerry Hiroshi Paul



Gingko Home Furnishings

Unique treasure hunt

Fresh and modern

In a city saturated with home furnishing megastores, truly original pieces are easy to spot but sometimes hard to find. Despite being a “premium outlet,” Trove is one respite from assembly line assimilation. The deceptively large boutique at Berkeley’s Gillman Village spotlights unique finds by local artisans and designers (pieces are priced at 40-70 percent off), and it occupies a space formerly belonging to a bakery. Owner Diane Haydon has retained the vintage quality of the building, keeping the cement floors and the rolling door where bread delivery trucks used to load, but she’s added urban-cool flourishes: charcoal walls serve as a backdrop for brightly colored and richly textured ceramics, and skylights illuminate the reclaimed wood furnishings that are artfully arranged on the floor. Items change weekly, but a recent whirl through the boutique unearthed bowls made from jade, boxes hand-carved from stone, and vases so sinewy you’ll want to plant your own flower garden so you’ll always have something to fill them with. Keep an eye out for the ones made of resin encasing mosaics of peanut shells or seeds.

Contrary to the dour retail climate, business at Gingko Home Furnishings has been fairly strong for at least the past six months. The three owners, siblings Joe and Sarah Chang plus Jerry Hsai, Sarah’s husband, seem to be offering just what people want in their dwellings now. Gingko interprets “timeless aesthetics in a decidedly contemporary mode,’’ its Web site says. Expect a clean Asian look, with a nod to Arts & Crafts. The furniture is fresh and modern, “yet comfortable and familiar,” Sarah Chang explains. Consider the popular Saito bed, which Chang characterizes as a “good combination of many styles. It’s not generic, yet pleasing to many people.’’ Design and manufacture of all the pieces is done by hand in Northern China, using the traditional carpentry technique of mortise and tenon — no nails. Interestingly, the advent of flat-screen TVs has drawn many clients to the store. Entertainment centers are top sellers. And once that becomes a fixture, it’s only natural for owners to be inspired to revisit what they’ve done to the rest of the house. More purchases from Gingko are the harmonious result.

— Stephanie Simons

— Crystal Chow

Trove 1310 10th Street, Berkeley 510.525.7991;


Gingko Home Furnishings 2496 W. El Camino Real, Mountain View 650.396.7455;

InStyle With March coming in like a lion, we opt to likewise take charge of our surroundings with authority. The assertive attitude starts with looking fierce — i.e., exceptional — fashionwise, as in this head-turning number from Jason Wu. It moves on to the home front, where anything that echoes the ensemble’s peach and green hues makes us want to roar with delight. — Crystal Chow


Don’t play it safe with lighting that recedes into the background. The shade on this Vanderbilt hi-light pendant lamp is a photographic print on transparency. It’s 11 inches tall and 5 inches in diameter; the porcelain socket uses a standard light bulb. $135 at

It’s a spring awakening with this colorful wall art by Kristina Bass-Bailey. The 24-square-inch gicle´e print is reproduced on stretched canvas by Oopsy Daisy, costs $160 and is available at

Can an accent piece be happy? We think this solid maple fiddlehead end table by Maine Cottage is downright delightful. It’s 25 inches round and 32 inches high and comes in 40 vibrant colors. $590 at 16 SPACES MARCH 2010

This block print on linen pillow from Dermond Peterson Design looks so refreshing and modern, we just had to include it. (The words are green-related.) Measuring 20 by 20 inches, it has a feather insert and everything is washable. $195 at Chrysanthemums are in bloom again, at least on this rug that’s suitable for high-traffic areas indoors or out. It’s hand-hooked and hand-tufted in five sizes, starting at 2 by 3 feet and $50. Available online only from Gump’s,

Š2007 California Closet Company, Inc. All rights reserved. Each franchise inde pe nde ntly owned and operated .NV lic. #52850.

wall bed by California Closets

b e d ro o m : s i m p l i f i e d

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Visit our showroom! Call today for a free in-home consultation 408.392.0400 | 1510 Oakland Road, Suite 130, San Jose



A No-Peeking Party Blind tastings offer cheer and education hink of it as the “9 1⁄2 Weeks” approach to wine tasting. The aim is much the same as in the movie – the heightening of the senses – except instead of Mickey Rourke blindfolding Kim Basinger, you blindfold the wine. Blind tasting, as it is called, is a way to eliminate your own prejudices and evaluate the wine in a controlled, fairly clinical situation. You will like what you like, regardless of the wine’s price or reputation – because you won’t know the wine’s price or reputation. You can withhold other information as well: varietal, locale, ratings, you name it. Naturally, we suggest undermining the so-serious aspects of blind tasting by turning it into a party. If you are going to humiliate yourself in public (“I loved that stuff? But it’s swill!”), you might as well invite your friends and loved ones to debase themselves similarly. Here’s a primer on having a blind tasting in which you will be able to both educate your palate and also snigger and point at close friends. • Think thematic. You might have a



tasting of five pinot noirs (a great all-around wine for just about any meal this season). Or Washington Merlots. Or New World chardonnays. Or $12 reds. • Cheat. To further provoke your guests, throw in a ringer. The variation can be subtle (throw a Napa merlot, say Duckhorn, in with the Washingtons) or sizable – add a pricey Bordeaux (got a better reason to open one of those 2005s?) to the mix. • Pour short. You will be tasting from five to seven glasses. You will most certainly not want to drink five to seven full glasses. The point is to remember the evening. • No fancy food. You don’t want any accompanying appetizers to mask the flavors of the wine. And as a courtesy, some of you will want to tone down the perfume and aftershave. • Disguise the wine. You can spring for those fancy velvet bottle covers devised especially for blind tastings, but the long, slim brown paper bags the grocery stores use to separate bottles work just as well. Just loop a hefty rubber band around the bagged neck a few times.

• Identify the bottles. Use a grease pencil to number the bottles (on the bag) and the glass that wine goes in (on the base). You want to be able to discuss how the No. 3 wine has nice legs, but the No. 7 makes you weak in the knees. In another variation on blind tastings, some folks like to hand out stat sheets on every single one of the wines (but, heaven forfend, not the ringer), giving not just the usual info but even Wine Spectator or Robert Parker ratings. • Don’t slip up. Remember that some bottles telegraph their contents. Burgundian and Alsatian wines have distinctive shapes that even velvet bags can’t obscure. You can’t play mix and match with these. • Don’t take it too seriously. While blind tastings do force you to analyze and evaluate, try to relax. Don’t be a cork dork. Don’t act like a wine weenie. After all, after an evening of sipping too-pricey-for-you Burgundies, it can be a comfort to find that your palate much prefers the ringer – that $12 pinot from the grocery store. — Craig Summers Black

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Easiest plants to grow: from A to Z


Cosmos sulphreus

Cosmos bipinnatus

Clockwise from bottom left: istockphoto/Thinkstock; Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Thinkstock; istockphoto/Thinkstock; Jack Hollingsworth/Valueline/Thinkstock



Red nasturtium

he hardest thing about growing warm-season flowers is deciding which ones to actually have in your garden. Wander through rows of started plants at the nursery or peruse seed racks and you’ll see the dilemma. There’s everything from A for ageratum to Z for zinnia — and many dozens of annuals in between. So, how to choose? First, figure out how much time you’re willing to devote to the project. You could plant a dozen marigolds along the driveway and call it a flower garden. Or, you could study colors, growing heights and care details for a never-ending floral tapestry throughout summer and fall. Another option is simply to choose seeds and plants that catch your fancy and hope for the best. Regardless of which path you take, here are a few flowers to consider: Cosmos are the easiest of the “easies.” They are sun-loving, multi-branching and come in heights that range from knee-high to 5 feet or more. These daisy-like charmers vary from bright and bold tones to the softest pastels. Cosmos can be started from seed in spring or from transplants anytime in spring and summer. Another carefree choice are sunflowers, which most people think of as being brilliant yellow. However, thanks to breeders, sunflowers now come in an assortment of yellow-bronze-red hues, all of which are highly valued as cut flowers. Whether the choice



is the Russian Mammoth, with its single huge head on a towering stalk, or one of the numerous multi-branching varieties, it all starts with seeds either sown directly in the ground or started in small pots and then transferred to chosen spots. Let some flowers go to seed to self-sow for the next season. The name nasturtium doesn’t sound very romantic, but don’t be fooled. This old-fashioned, ultra-easy flower from South America brings quick color to the garden through the hottest part of summer. Either from seed or transplant, trailing nasturtium crawls over the ground to fill wasted spaces or climbs daintily on a low fence or wall. The small blossoms are also edible, with a peppery taste that will dress up a salad. Another bonus: Nasturtium reseeds itself. Zinnia, another effortless candidate, has brightly colored petals and does double-duty in cut-flower bouquets. There is nothing boring about zinnias, which produce heavily through fall: Choose big-flowering varieties on tall plants for accents, or tiny ones called Peter Pan that work in low borders and in containers. The trick to growing zinnias over a long period is to keep water off the leaves, as moisture causes them to develop mildew. Otherwise, just make a home in your garden for them and get ready for months of gorgeous blooms. — Joan Jackson



MADERA Photos by Kerry Hiroshi Paul

Executive chef

Peter Rudolph Age: 39

Area and joined Rosewood Sand Hill to open Madera.

Early inspiration:

lives in San Francisco

“My grandmother. She made comfort food: cakes, stews, pot roasts, very American-centric, very Betty Crocker.”

Experience: Worked in pizza


parlors as a teenager but later decided to become a photographer. Lost interest in photography yet still enjoyed cooking so attended California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, graduating in 1994 and taking an externship at Brasserie Savoy in San Francisco. Joined the Ritz Carlton, where he worked as a chef in Atlanta, Marina Del Rey and Half Moon Bay (Navio). Left to travel through Southeast Asia with his family. Came back to the Bay

Joel Antunes, Gunter Seegers, Troy Thompson and Xavier Salomon

Hometown: Martinez, but now

Madera 2825 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park 650.561.1540;


Your culinary philosophy: “Stay fresh, stay excited. Use the best products in an interesting way.”

family, either camping and hiking or cooking together. My son (5year-old Logan) is into food and loves fresh sardines. I wrote a kid's menu and he changed four dishes and they're No. 1 sellers.”

What is the biggest challenge? Balancing the business aspect and the creative aspect of being a chef.

If you weren't a chef, what would you be doing: Running a bike shop, or a professional bike rider.

Most proud of: Your favorite foods: Sweetbreads and artichokes

"Madera and the team that is here, and the product."

Leisure time: “Biking (mountain bikes) and spending time with my

— Kristine M. Carber


MADERA Loch Duarte salmon, shrimp tortellini, black trumpet mushrooms Serves 3



4 each 5-ounce skinned and filleted loche duarte salmon 1 teaspoon shallot brunoise 4 teaspoons each picked nettles and black trumpets 4 each shrimp tortellini Nettle puree 8 teaspoons marinated beets 2 teaspoons chopped chives

• Season salmon with salt and pepper. In a stainless steel pan, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil and sear salmon flesh side down until golden brown. Flip fish and ladle 2 teaspoons fish glaze on top coating generously and continue cooking salmon in a 375 degree oven for about 5 minutes for medium rare. Sauté black trumpets, shallots and nettles in olive oil and use as a base on the plate for your tortellini. • Fill a 2-quart pot with water and season liberally with sea salt; bring to a boil. Drop in tortellini and cook for about a minute until the filling is set. Strain and toss with butter. Place tortellini on top of sautéed mushrooms and nettles.

To plate: Drop 1 tablespoon of nettle puree on the plate and form a teardrop by dragging the spoon across the puree. Carefully drop 2 tablespoons of marinated beets around the plate. Place the tortellini on top of nettles and black trumpets and place the salmon beside it.

>>Visit for additional recipes from Madera.



BOCANOVA Photos by Ken Perkins

Chef de cuisine

Ross Kaplan Age: 33 Hometown: Columbia, Maryland Experience: Kaplan, an East Coast native, started out at Union Square Café in Manhattan, under the tutelage of renowned chef Michael Romano. When he came to the West Coast, he worked at Café Cacao in Berkeley and then MarketBar in San Francisco. Rick Hackett, the chef at MarketBar, recruited Kaplan to help him launch Bocanova, which opened in September 2009. Global inspiration: At Bocanova, the menu draws inspiration from the Americas, with influences as

varied as Brazil, Costa Rica and indigenous cultures. It’s been fun to use that as a basis for ideas. The restaurant’s Bay Area location is important, too, because it allows the “California produce and food to speak for themselves.”

Catch in San Francisco and getting a poke bowl” — raw tuna salad.

Guilty food pleasure: “I love pizza. What can I say? Pizza is always a great stand-by.”

Early inspiration: “When I was younger, I used to watch a lot of cooking shows on PBS. And in my family, we used to eat a lot of family dinners on the weekend.”

What is your biggest challenge? “I really enjoy teaching. Maybe it’s because my parents were teachers. It’s a pleasure and one of my bigger challenges. You have to invest in the people you’re working with. But it’s always a challenge to teach people and have them absorb the information you need them to know.”

Bocanova Jack London Square, 55 Webster Street, Oakland 510.444.1233;


What is your favorite restaurant? “I like going to Pacific

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing? “I’ve always loved music. So I see myself as a radio personality. I’m not actually a musician, but I do love music.”

Culinary philosophy: “Make it delicious. I’ve also always taken the position that what you cook is ingested into somebody’s body and becomes a part of them.”

— Natalie Martinez


BOCANOVA Yucatan seafood stew Serves 8-10



4 white onions, diced 3 serrano chiles, minced 30 garlic cloves, pan roasted and chopped 1/2 cup white wine 16 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano 2 teaspoons lime zest lime juice to taste 6 cups fish stock 2 cups tomato sauce 3 pounds white fish 2 pounds shellfish

For stew base: • Sauté onions in olive oil until soft. • Add chiles and garlic; cook for about five minutes. Deglaze pan with wine. • Add tomatoes and reduce to a thick paste. Add oregano, zest and juice. • Add stock and tomato sauce; simmer 10 minutes. Season to taste.

Garnish: White onion, habanero chile, cilantro — all minced; lime juice

Add fish and shellfish and simmer until fish is opaque and shells have opened.

To serve: Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with minced white onion, habanero chile, lime juice and cilantro. Serve with grilled bread on the side.



Before photography courtesy of Mark English Architect.


view from the hills By Kathryn Loosli Pritchett After photography by Norma Lopez Molina

rchitect Mark English first started drafting plans for a remodel of this Los Altos Hills home 10 years ago. “The original house was a small, strange little ‘50s structure with a prow-shaped living room that happened to sit on a lot with a spectacular view that stretched from Oakland to South San Jose,” says English. “You felt like you were on the edge of civilization when you looked out at the view.” Eventually, English and his client decided they would scrap the remodeling plans and start from scratch. “I hate to tear buildings down, but the structure had probably been sliding down the hill since the ‘60s. It needed major structural work so we decided to just start over.” The new home has a free-flowing layout that matches the client’s desire to entertain. A central public area was designed as a great room with two private bedroom wings on either side. “I saw this as an entity that might take flight,” says


Large anodized aluminum frame windows by Blomberg showcase the dramatic view. English designed a bold fireplace wall that matched the grandeur of the view. Quiet recessed lighting and simple bamboo floors retreat into the background.

After MARCH 2010 SPACES 27



After Opposite page: Tangerine colored cabinets from German manufacturer Schuller add a pop of color to the entire great room. The slotted sink in the island as well as the main sink on the back wall are made out of the same white Caesarstone as the counter. “One less material change helped keep things clean and simple,” says architect Mark English. Above: The fireplace is surrounded with the same Caesarstone used in the kitchen to create an intimate feel.

English of the stucco and ledge-stone house. “You really get that sensation when you’re out on the ipe wood entertainment terrace.” Walking in the sandblasted glass front door, you’re struck by two significant design elements — the big windows and the massive fireplace. Because the view through the commercial grade windows is so dramatic, English knew that the fireplace would need to be dramatic to hold its own. “One of my pet peeves is when fireplaces are unattractive and don’t fit the space,” he says, so he designed a fireplace “wall” made out of the same ledge stone used on the exterior of the house. Then he created a long, low 12 x 2-foot hearth filled with flame emitters that was inspired by a similar fireplace in the W hotels. English defined the adjacent dining room space through its coffered ceiling. “It separates out the space and cues you that something different is happening here.” A circular light fixture





The master bedroom features a wall that folds over the bed for a canopy effect.

by YLighting “pins down” the dining room table and provides a sense of stability in the open space. The kitchen provides a vibrant pop of color with its orange and gray cabinets from Schuller topped with white Caesarstone. Overscale white porcelain tiles are set straight into the sheetrock so that there isn’t a need to use bull nose or other trim details. “We didn’t want an all white kitchen,” says English. “We wanted to make a statement; we didn’t want to be meek.” Most of the appliances and the workspace are on one side of the central island so that the owner can efficiently prepare food while her guests are conversing on the other side. “It’s definitely a kitchen designed for a cook


who likes to entertain,” English adds. The walls in the kitchen and throughout the house are painted a crisp white. Bamboo flooring — “renewable but also more clean visually” — and trimless walls complete the great room’s design. “The owner wanted to keep things simple, drawing on contemporary Japanese and European design for inspiration.” Regarding the clean lines of the structure, English gives credit to San Jose contractor Mark De Mattei. “In order to create a contemporary home like this you need a talented builder who gets every detail right from the beginning,” says English. “You can’t use molding down the road to cover up mistakes.”



Architect Mark English kept to a simple materials palette of integrally colored stucco, natural ledge stone, and ipe wood for the exterior of the home. The entire structure was oriented towards maximizing the views that stretch from the Oakland Hills to Coyote Hills to South San Jose.

The more private family room on the non-view side of the house features a high narrow window that lines up with the lowered ceiling. Its deliberate placement allows light into the room while blocking the view of the adjacent driveway. Here, a smaller fireplace surrounded with the same white Caesarstone that was used in the kitchen creates an intimate feeling. English designed the family room to be perfectly square. “Square rooms are very comfortable, stable and calm. Some spaces create activity, this space creates a feeling of calm.” He designed the master bedroom to be almost square as well. A separate interior wall folds out over the bed giving the impression of a built-in canopy. Combined with the treetop view, the design of the room exudes a feeling of enclosure and protection. “It was clear from the beginning of this project that the view outside was the most important aspect of the design.” “With view houses, our mantra is always ‘keep it simple.’” S

Resources: Mark De Mattei Mark English Architects 415.391.0186


Detailed design


Rising star Luke Vahle talks about easy and quick makeovers By Joan Chatfield-Taylor Photography by Andrew Boepple

on’t throw away that lamp that’s been slanguishing in the basement. That grandmother clock you saw at an estate sale? It could be the find of the century. That’s the advice of interior designer Luke Vahle, who expresses his basic approach to design in a few words, “You start with restraint, and then you add things that are more ephemeral. The details are the things that make us happy.”


Vahle uses jolts of color, whimsical juxtapositions of


Previous page: In Luke Vahle’s San Francisco dining room, a white light fixture from West Elm hangs above a table by Dutch designer Tord Boontje, featuring a swirling design ink-printed on the underside of the glass top. The black plates are from Crate and Barrel. Opposite page: Vahle kept things simple in the music room, dominated by a grand piano and lit by a resin-coated yarn sphere from Moooi, casting delicate shadows on a Frida Kahlo poster that’s the only bright color in the space. Above: The designer’s love for black and white is expressed in the living room by pillows in different textures, vintage Lucite candleholders by modernist designer Dorothy Thorpe and a pseudo-zebra rug under the coffee table.

Vahle uses jolts of color, whimsical juxtapositions of objects, unusual materials and a touch of humor to give personality to pared-down settings. If the objects are as varied as an oversized tic-tac-toe board to a light fixture made of a web of wires, they share a boldness of scale and simplicity of form. It’s more important that each object has an impact than that it is precious or costly. He takes the same approach to accessories as he does to furniture. “Fewer, larger pieces make a small space feel luxurious. It’s about choosing the most meaningful pieces. Three or four big pieces, and you’re done.” When he moved into a Bay Area Edwardian, he decided to transform the interior from the cozy,

cluttered look of the previous owners, a family with several children “and all that entails” to crisp and sophisticated, with a little formality to match the architecture. “I had never lived in an Edwardian house, and I was struck by the gorgeous details and the beautiful moldings.” The family’s scheme of bright red and green and tartan patterns detracted from these fine decorative elements, so he turned to a neutral color palette to allow the details to shine. The living room became cool white, warmed up by shelves of books. He painted the dining room a matte black that he chose after brushing three different samples on the walls. “It was the one that looked like a hole in the wall, as if the


wall had dropped away and you were left with beautiful details.” The original moldings are painted a glossy white, so that they stand out like sculpture against the invisibility of the walls. The effect, he says, is both cozy and theatrical. Then Vahle started adding accessories to lighten the austerity of the background. Some details repeat the black and white color scheme. A zebra-patterned rug lies under the coffee table, white pillar lamps stand out against black walls, and even the weights of the door chimes have been painted a shiny black. The occasional jolts of color — the red shawl in a poster for a Frida Kahlo exhibit, the deep pink of lilies, the green of artichokes in an arrangement of vegetables and flowers on the dining room table — are so carefully applied that they give each room a charge of electricity. There’s humor as well; the hooves of a carved wooden carnival horse is propped up against a banister so that the steed seems to be watching the comings and goings on the stairs.


Opposite page: Vahle looks everywhere for accessories. In this sitting room, the varied reds of a Chinese wedding chest are repeated in unmatched pillows. A porcelain tea set sits on a wooden mirror used as a tray (from Past Perfect in San Francisco) ; the shiny black sphere by the fireplace came from a garden supply store. Above: A lounge chair in black, brown and white ponyskin adds a sculptural element to the living room.

Vahle’s search for these delightful details is far-ranging. “I combine things from near and far. I like to support local artisans, but I also use things I find online. In San Francisco, I like places like Past Perfect on Union Street, which has different vendors who have rented spaces. I keep my ears open for Bay Area estate sales, and I even find great things at garage sales. I also tell people to shop their attics for something that just needs a little help. I recently found a grandmother clock that I had lacquered in baby blue with hot pink accents, and it’s going add a bit of whimsy to an otherwise modern loft.” He points out that old lamps can often be transformed by replacing tired and mediocre shades or by dressing up an existing shade with fresh trim. In San Francisco, he’s a fan of the Ribbonerie, a Sacramento street boutique that’s piled high with thousands of ribbons and trims, and Satin Moon, the fabric store on Clement Street. Vahle’s clean, fresh approach is attracting lots of attention. He was recently named a finalist for Fashion Group International’s Rising Star Awards. S

Resources: Luke Vahle Design Past Perfect 415.929.7651 Ribbonerie Satin Moon Fabrics 415.668.1623



High-Tech Home From an alarm clock that really gets you rolling in the morning to your own private karaoke machine, here are the latest techie tools for your hooked-up home. By Holly Berecz

1. 1. Digital Art Save valuable desk space and keep cable clutter under control. The LaCie USB Hub is part sculpture, part practical solution for using multiple USB devices with your computer. Compatible with Mac and PC, it allows you to connect up to seven devices at one time. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s made of sturdy polycarbonate and priced around $80;

2. Sing Along Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s everything you might love about karaoke, without the two-drink minimum. iKaraoke from Griffin Technology works with your iPod, letting you sing along with your favorite songs. It fades the lead vocals and uses an FM signal to transmit the tunes, along with your voice, to your home stereo. Retails for $17.50;




3. Watchful Eye Say goodnight in person even if you’re miles away. Eyeball 2.0 is a 2 mega pixel Web cam with CD-quality audio and HDquality video. Ideal for instant messaging and video conferencing, it uses a USB connection and driverless installation. The integrated stand fits virtually any monitor. Available for $80, Eyeball features an innovative camera-off privacy feature;


4. Roll With It Not your everyday alarm clock, Clocky Mobile Alarm Clock gives you one chance to get up and at ’em. If you hit the snooze button, Clocky — still sounding the alarm—will jump right off your nightstand and roll around your room, looking for a place to hide. Engineered to jump up to three feet, Clocky’s durable wheels can handle any terrain. Available for about $40 in the colors aqua, almond, coco, raspberry and chrome;


5. Round & Round Vinyl may be outdated, but it’s not obsolete (especially if you’re still a die-hard album fan). Rediscover your records with the TTUSB turntable from Ion Audio. It uses a USB connection to let you play your LPs on your home stereo or turn the music into digital files. A plug and play connection makes it a snap to use and included software lets you quickly transfer music to your iTunes library. Sells for $120;

6. Friendly Fire Environmentally sound and striking, the Zeta freestanding fireplace by EcoSmart runs on renewable denatured ethanol. A clever fusion of timber, leather and stainless steel, the portable unit sits on a stainless steel swivel base and features a spaceage curve. Priced around $11,000, it’s available in an array of leather options including ciocolatta, Nero, ranch hide and latte;


6. MARCH 2010 SPACES 39



Destination Carefree, Arizona Here are 5 reasons to make this desert town a base for your next visit to Scottsdale. The Boulders

Carefree Town Center Taliesin West


Old town/new sights

Once known for its Western-style shops, Old Town Scottsdale (30 minute from Carefree) has developed a thriving waterfront and arts district where locals gather on Thursday night for the weekly ArtWalk. Follow the blue trail to the galleries and then settle in for fine dining at a canal-side restaurant such as Olive and Ivy.


Haute hotels

The Boulders Resort is Carefree’s luxury accommodation, and a short drive from downtown. Appropriately named for its boulder-style architecture, this desert oasis features a championship golf course, hiking paths and casitas with their own balconies and first-class amenities including access to the famed Golden Door Spa (opposite page).


Cool architecture

Perhaps the most famous historic building in the area is Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s former home and institute for architecture interns. Tucked back in the desert foothills, Taliesin is a complex of buildings now housing offices, studios and a gift shop. A must do is the twilight tour, offering a spectacular view of Wright’s hallmark cantilevered roofs.


A-spiring art

Though designed in 1957, it wasn’t until 2004 that Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West Promenade spire was erected at the southeast corner of Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard and Scottsdale Road. Wright created the 40ton structure as a centerpiece to a

Promenade Spire

proposed state capitol but drawings were filed in a drawer for the next 47 years. Today, the spire’s glow is a beacon for travelers at night.


Carefree in Carefree

Head down Easy Street (yes, really) for a tour of the town’s outdoor art (including the largest sundial in the nation). Monthly concerts in the garden are offered Thursdays at dusk.




03/2010 March 20 San Francisco International Chocolate Salon 2010 Chocolate lovers will convene at Fort Mason Festival Pavilion for the largest major chocolate show on the West Coast, featuring premium delights from more than more than 65 chocolatiers, confectioners, wineries and other culinary artisans. Information:

March 20 Barrel Tasting Weekend More than 25 Livermore Valley wineries open their doors to wine aficionados for a lively day of tastings right out of the barrel. Information: San Francisco Flower & Garden Show

March 12-14 The Most Happy Fella San Jose’s California Theatre is the majestic venue for the concert presentation of this romantic musical set in the beautiful Napa Valley. Symphony Silicon Valley and a cast of Broadway veterans and talented local performers perform the full story and score. Information:

March 13-14 Marin County Spring Antique Show More than 70 distinctive dealers will be selling fabulous antiques and collectibles — including fine and decorative art, vintage and estate jewelry, Asian art, prints and posters. Also available: free appraisals as well as glass and porcelain repair. Information:

March 19-21 Art International/San Francisco The San Francisco Design Center is transformed into a showplace for fine art. Plus, this event is being held in conjunction with the San Francisco Fine Jewelry & Antique Show. Information:


March 24-28 San Francisco Flower & Garden Show At the heart of this event are the 25 breathtaking, full-scale gardens spread over four acres at the San Mateo Event Center. Plus, visitors can broaden their landscape know-how at dozens of free seminars and shop to their heart’s delight at the event’s 300 exhibits. Information:

March 27 Meet the Artists Day at Filoli Gardens Learn what inspired the works — drawings, paintings, photographs and more — featured in the garden’s Patterns and Abstractions of Nature exhibit. The exhibit runs through April 11. Information:

Through April 18 Golden Gate Express Garden Railway The Conservatory of Flowers celebrates San Francisco on a smallscale with an elaborate model train landscape, complete with cable cars and streetcars zipping miniature versions of the city’s landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Transamerica Pyramid. Information: .


(Spend little.)

Beautiful designer furniture at consignment prices

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Mountain View 650-964-7212

Corte Madera 925-456-2765

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PALO ALTO 340 Portage Ave. (650) 496-6000 • FAX (650) 496-6018 SAN JOSE 550 E. Brokaw Road (408) 487-1000 • FAX (408) 487-1018 SUNNYVALE 1077 E. Arques Ave. (408) 617-1300 • FAX (408) 617-1318

March Spaces Bay Area  

Detailed design, rebirth of rocking chairs, remarkable remodels and spring plantings.