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home + garden

FALL 2014



Better than ever in Palo Alto Page 16

Upward mobility in Woodside | Page 4 Now and Zen in Mountain View | Page 10 A seamless second-story addition in Palo Alto | Page 26

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Upward mobility

Building up added space set ‘in the middle of the trees’ by Susan Golovin / photos by Dasja Dolan


Using a stainless-steel cable railing gives an opportunity to see the redwoods when walking up the stairs.

e are just high enough up so that we have a little view,” Russ Molari says, pointing to the Stanford Hills to the east, seen through the redwoods that proliferate on the property. He and his wife Wanda lived in this home for about 20 years before they decided to do a major remodel. Russ Molari says that the single biggest design concern in adding the second story, which now contains the master bedroom and bath as well as loft space to their circa late1950s Woodside home, was the staircase: “Where do you put it? What shape will it be? How steep? How wide? How

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much space will it take up? How will it affect traffic flow? Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a real driver,â&#x20AC;? he says. Molari says that they were also naĂŻve about how much of the house the partial remodel would affect. The L-shaped staircase is located in the living room, and to allow space for it they flipped the location of the powder room and a closet, so they are now tucked into a space to the right of the main entry. To meet earthquake regulations and to support the weight, they also had to replace the walls in the two bedrooms below the addition with shear walls. They put new oak floors in the living room and removed the dated brick at the base of the fireplace. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The second floor mimics the original shape of the roof, so there are echoes of the original house,â&#x20AC;? he says. Since the original is an inverted V-shape that creates a vaulted ceiling in the downstairs, the upstairs is similarly vaulted, and, in the loft, rises to about 15 feet. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The architect wanted to make sure that we could see the redwoods as we walk up the stairs, Molari says. Therefore, they used a stainless-steel cable railing that does not obscure the dramatic view out of the living-room windows. This same cable is used to enclose the loft, so one can view the upstairs while entering the house. The loft, Molari says, has been commandeered by his wife, who loves to sit and read in the comfy space with views on either side. In the new master bedroom a wall of windows â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the shape follows the vault, so here, as elsewhere, many windows are trapezoidal â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and a skylight ensure natural light. (continued on next page)

Adding the L-shaped staircase to the living room required flipping the location of the powder room and closet.

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A wall of windows, many trapezoidal, offers a view of the redwoods from the master bedroom.

Upward mobility (continued from previous page)

Molari explains that they made the deck outside this bedroom narrow so as not to darken the downstairs bedrooms. The deck is surrounded by the same cable used throughout. The purple and green marble used on the counters and the tub surround in the master bath mimic the colors of the redwoods. Since the generous tub is next to the window, Molari says that it feels like it is â&#x20AC;&#x153;in the middle of the trees.â&#x20AC;? The ceiling in the shower follows the vaulted roof line. He says that both here and in the adjoining walk-in closet with its custom cherry veneer shelving, the original idea was to have a flat ceiling, but they opted for the more dramatic pitch. As you walk downstairs, you look through wavy glass into the office, formerly the master bedroom. (continued on page 8)

The biggest challenge was the staircase: location, shape and width. 6 Fall 2014 | home + garden design

The remodel is tucked comfortably among the redwoods in Woodside.



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The colors of the marble in the master bathroom mimic the redwoods seen through the window over the tub.

Upward mobility (continued from page 6)

“It was a difficult decision to use this glass, because it is expensive, but it opens the house,” he says. The two bedrooms downstairs received cosmetic updates and the bathroom between them was completely updated. “My wife had fun picking out all the tiles,” he says. They also removed the (pink!) tub and opted for a large shower, and put in a door that leads to the pool. “In San Mateo (County) one of the most feared outcomes is to have to retrofit the sprinkler system throughout the house if the remodel is more than a certain percent of the house volume,” Molari says. “We not only needed a bigger water meter and larger main water pipe coming into the house, we also had to install sprinklers everywhere.” Soffits in the open-beam vaulted ceilings provide unobtrusive installation. Molari says that the next project will be to remodel the kitchen and east-facing deck. H&G Resources: Architect: Malika Junaid, M*Designs Architects, Los Altos, 650-565-4036, Contractor: Boynton Construction, San Mateo, 650-559-0727

The second-story loft is vaulted, rising to about 15 feet. 8 Fall 2014 | home + garden design

Goal of project: Add a second-floor master bedroom

Size of house: Original house, 2,824 sq ft ; remodeled, 3,771 sq ft

Unanticipated issues: New sprinkler system required

Time to complete: about one year

Year house built: late 1950s

Original budget: $300,000

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home + garden design | Fall 2014 9

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Now and Zen Self-guided balance between modern and relaxed by Christina Dong / photos by Veronica Weber


hen Steve Harris started watching HGTV to expand a longtime interest in design, he never imagined that his home would later have its own moment of TV stardom. His “15 seconds of fame” on the DIY Channel in March 2013 was a product of extensive design work carried out completely on his own — and with no formal background in interior design. Over the past two and a half years, Harris has remodeled his kitchen and three bathrooms, installed hardwood flooring on the first story of his home and carried out smaller renovations including updates to the fireplace and lighting fixtures. Though he hired contractors to complete the work, he took charge of the design and choice of materials and appliances, coordinating each project without the help of an architect or designer. The result was a balance between cozy and contemporary, created by pairing warm tones with sleek surfaces in his home that he describes as a fusion of midcentury modern and modern Japanese. With this eclectic mix, also featuring notes of African art, Harris made it a priority to “keep everything flowing ... from one space to another” while moving “in a more modern direction” overall, he says. Harris set out with three main goals: to improve functionality, to modernize the overall look “without making it look too modern and cold” and to maximize the space and openness of his home. He sought cohesive design, “a lot of details that all fit together,” he says. “It’s that cohesiveness that makes a space feel larger.” His goals were put hardest to work in the kitchen, remodeled last fall. The overhaul spawned from a single detail: the countertops, which Harris wanted to raise to a more comfortable height and replace with quartz, the project’s Choosing white quartz for the kitchen countertops set the tone for the remodel, top and left, which included custom white cabinetry, yellows and greens in the backsplash tiles and brushed-metal drawer pulls. 10 Fall 2014 | home + garden design

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Updating the bathroom with pearlescent amber mosaic tile in a short backsplash, along with custom ebony drawers and brushed steel pulls, earned the owner a DIY Channel moment of fame.

“central design element.” For each project in his home, he began with a single material as inspiration, he says, and used its color and feel to determine the room’s other materials and fixtures. With the new countertops came an overall brightening of the kitchen, achieved through white cabinetry, as well as warm yellows and energizing greens in the sparkling backsplash tile. At the same time, brushed-metal drawer and cabinet handles — bars, as opposed to knobs — helped guide the room in a more modern direction. All appliances were upgraded to brushed steel as well, including a new range with a curved grate in place of traditional burners. Working with general contractor Grant Gustavson and Steve Thatcher of Thatcher Woodworking, Harris opted for a semi-custom cabinet installation, applying new doors and new paint to original frames. However, he made slight modifications to increase storage space, including conversion of two small drawers into one elongated drawer. The white doors — four with translucent glass — were a breath of fresh air compared to the original maple cabinets and flooring. To help guide his design and material choices, Harris frequented showrooms and appliance stores throughout the planning process, particularly Kitchens by Meyer. For tiles, (continued on page 13)

A more open feeling was achieved in the second bathroom by replacing a tub with a stone-tiled, walk-in shower, repeating the amber mosaic tile in the alcoves. home + garden design | Fall 2014 11

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Now and Zen (continued from page 11)

he shopped online. “I really believe in samples,” he says. “Anyone who designs should budget for samples.” Samples helped Harris discover the perfect bathroom floor tile, the “central design element” for the remodeling of two full bathrooms in early 2013. The light gray stone created the Zen aura Harris desired, and guided his choice of pearlescent amber mosaic tile for the short backsplash along the countertop of the master bathroom, the project that earned Harris his DIY Channel moment. Custom ebony drawers by Thatcher replaced the dated maple cabinets below the sink, increasing storage capacity through U-shaped shelves that fully utilize space around the pipes. The same drawer design was installed using a teak stain in the smaller second bathroom, in which Harris also created more openness by replacing the bathtub with a stone-tiled, walk-in shower. Complementary color palettes and mutual Zen simplicity created the harmony that Harris hoped would “flow” between the two bathrooms and downstairs to the kitchen as well. With all three rooms now remodeled, they unite (continued on next page)

The pearlescent amber mosaic tile appears in both bathrooms, creating a unifying theme throughout the updated home.

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Now and Zen (continued from previous page)

through brushed-metal fixtures, streamlined cabinet design and calming tile colors. â&#x20AC;&#x153;All the design that went into (each project),â&#x20AC;? he reflects, â&#x20AC;&#x153;and thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nothing I would change? Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m pretty pleased.â&#x20AC;? H&G

Resources: General contractor: Grant Gustavson, San Jose, 408-996-3668 Flooring: DG Floor Coverings Inc., Redwood City, 650-299-1676 Cabinets: Steve Thatcher, Thatcher Woodworking, Los Gatos, 408-358-2388 Project goals: Improve functionality, modernize look, maximize space Unanticipated issues: Finding a suitable refrigerator; replacing shattered oven glass; creating custom door Updating the fireplace helped achieve the more modern look as the owner moved from cozy to more contemporary.

Year house built: 1997

Size of home: 1,640 sq ft on 2,945 sq-ft lot Time to complete all projects: 2.5 years Budget: Kitchen: under $30,000; both full bathrooms: under $50,000; hardwood floors: $12-15,000; fireplace: $6-8,000

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Removing a stand of thick bamboo opened up the front of the house; the landscaping now better complements what the owner calls a “whale” of a house.

Couple honors past so home can be enjoyed into the future by Carol Blitzer / photos by Dasja Dolan

n more than 100 years, the shingled, Craftsman-style home at the fringe of Professorville had only had two owners, the last a history buff who bequeathed a 14-page list outlining what could not be done to the house. But the couple, armed with Silicon Valley startup money, was entranced by the possibilities. They easily agreed that there was no point in ruining the Level 1 home on the National Register of Historic Places, which was designed by A.W. Smith and built in 1905 for gold-miner Charles Lane’s daughter. In the 1970s it was purchased by a family with five children. Over the years the house began to resemble Sarah Winchester’s “Mystery House.” Sometime in the 1940s one wing was turned into a boardinghouse, with five kitchens and access only from the exterior; some rooms had four doors, some leading nowhere. By 2011, when the couple decided to take it on, it was “falling apart at the seams,” the wife says. But, “the covenant was pretty intense,” she adds. Most of the restrictions in that covenant involved the three front rooms, which were paneled in a dark fir with fir flooring. There were prohibitions involving painting the wood, removing walls or touching the large glass windows. Architect Aino Vieria Da Rosa helped the couple figure out how to restore the beauty while bringing the home into 16 Fall 2014 | home + garden design

the 21st century — mostly within those covenants. Paneling was removed, board by board, labeled and stored while the house was totally rewired, re-plumbed and insulated. Then the boards were put back — cleaned, brightened and waxed. Most of the light fixtures are consistent with the age of the home. But, the wife says, “It’s a very serious house. We wanted to go lighter, more whimsical.”

The once-dark original lobby is now lit by a modern chandelier, with added light from traditional sconces.

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All the original features of the living room were retained, from the beamed ceilings to the window seats. The room has great acoustics, the owners say, and previous owners were all musicians.

So in the foyer, what she calls “the lobby,” is a glass chandelier that’s not the least bit formal, and over the dining room table hangs a spiky, more avant-garde fixture. Palo Alto’s Historic Resources Board didn’t agree with everything they wanted to do, insisting that they keep skylights on the front porch (which were added in the 1970s) (continued on next page)

The roomy home has plenty of space for a dedicated wine room in the finished basement.

Once cleaned the red tones in the fir paneling of the lobby were emphasized. A “hobbit” door under the stairway used to lead to the basement, but now goes down to a closet/coat room. home + garden design | Fall 2014 17

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The modern kitchen extends into a large family room, with French doors on each side leading outdoors. The large island is topped with Pietra del Cardosa marble, with Carara marble on the rest of the countertops.

Better than ever (continued from previous page)

and insert expensive imported leaded glass for French doors in the back. In retrospect, the couple is happy with the skylights that greatly improve the light in the living room; and they agree that the leaded glass fits very well with the more historically correct front of the home. Since the fir floors were really shot, they replaced them with a hardier hickory, stained a pecan color that closely mimics the original fir. “It looks like it fits, and it’s hard as rocks,” the wife says, adding that it’ll stand up much better to one large dog and three children. In the back of the house, a modern, very functional kitchen — but with a traditional style — is open to a large (continued on page 20)

Shallow shelves line the walk-in pantry, making all supplies easily accessible. 18 Fall 2014 | home + garden design

A highlight for the cook of the house is the La Cornue stove with two ovens; another pair of electric ovens are for baking.

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Children’s rooms are colorful and comfortable.

The basement houses a play/entertainment area with a pool table, arcade game and large-screen TV.

Better than ever

station featuring an appliance garage, storage cabinets and a refrigerator drawer, across from a zinc-topped breakfast table at one end of the large island, which has a Pietra del Cardosa marble countertop. “I don’t want a precious house. It needs to be used. I don’t want anything that doesn’t look better destroyed, or well loved,” the wife says, pointing to the marks on the zinc counter and the purposeful distressing on the floors. The first floor also contains a mud room (with a small washer/dryer and named cubbies for each family member),

(continued from page 18)

family room, with French doors on either side. The room is sited between a large patio on one side and a small backyard with its cottage and garage on the other. One highlight is the La Cornue stove with its French plaque center burner for slow cooking, four gas burners, a griddle and two ovens, perfect for cooking meat. Since the wife is really into cooking, there are also electric Viking double ovens for baking. The kitchen is organized into sections, with a breakfast

20 Fall 2014 | home + garden design

(continued on page 22)

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A large skylight lights up the formal staircase and a photo gallery on the second floor.

Better than ever (continued from page 20)

a guest suite, powder room and the husbandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s study. Up the formal staircase one reaches a small tower, which the wife uses as her study; the master suite; three more bedroom suites; a large laundry room; and a family retreat, complete with a well-stocked snack pantry. The last part of the renovation is a finished basement, with a wine cellar (with barrels left over from an old barn once on the property), sports and handyman closets, a mechanical room and a game room. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You only get one chance to do this. We wanted to do it (continued on page 24)

When they took the walls down to the studs, the owners realized they could vault the ceilings upstairs. The bed sits under a soffet, surrounded by cabinets. 22 Fall 2014 | home + garden design

The mock fireplace in the dining room is too shallow to be functional. To add a playful element, the owners chose a spiky chandelier.

H O M E + G A R D E N D E S I G N

home + garden design | Fall 2014 23

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Better than ever (continued from page 22)

right,” the wife says. And, she says, when she invited the children of the previous owner — who grew up in the house — to check it out, they cried, grateful that their home had been preserved. H&G Resources: Architect: Aino Vieria Da Rosa, Palo Alto, 650-328-5670 Building contractor: Mark Moragne and Wakey Mist, Northwall Builders Inc., Palo Alto, Home technology: Robert Gilligan, Andrew Olson, Interior designer: Ken Fulk team - Jon De La Cruz and Alicia Cheung, San Francisco, Landscape designer: Sarah Warto, Box Leaf Design, San Francisco, Lighting: Erik Johnson Associates, Novato, Goal of project: Restore home, including getting rid of boardinghouse section

For the family retreat, the owners went “really playful,” with a large lit arrow and colorful furnishings. There’s also a snack pantry.



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24 Fall 2014 | home + garden design

Unanticipated issues/ regrets: Overdid electrical system; could have used larger washer/ dryer in mud room

Year house built: 1905, remodeled 2011-13 Size of home, lot: 7,800-sq-ft home on 0.41 acre Time to complete: About two years: seven months planning, 18 months construction

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home + garden design | Fall 2014 25

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Marion Brenner

Floor-to-ceiling windows and doors bring in natural light to the great room and connect them to the backyard seating area and fountain.

A seamless second-story addition A nontraditional solution in a traditional neighborhood by Kate Daly


hat do you do when you intentionally design a house for two and then realize it’s too small to share with visitors? In the case of one Palo Alto couple, you bring your award-winning team back to the drawing board to add a second-story guest suite. When Lorrie Castellano and Roger Fisher built their 1,895-square-foot one-story stucco home in 2004 on a narrow lot on Byron Street in Professorville, it was all about them. She had previously lived in a Victorian in San Francisco, and he was used to contemporary. They were living together in a Southwestern home nearby on Melville when they decided to downsize and design a new home with a modern, efficient style where, Castellano says, “There is a consistency with everything, and that is a very calming feeling.” They hired Lindy Small as their architect and Drew Maran Construction, a local green builder. The end result is a striking stand-out in a neighborhood filled with century-old homes. The house won an American Institute of Architecture Design Award and has what Small describes as “a very consolidated type of design ... organic and sculptural.” The modified L-shaped open floorplan wraps around a courtyard with southern exposure. Floor-to-ceiling aluminum windows and doors provide walls of glass that bring in

26 Fall 2014 | home + garden design

natural light to the great room, adjoining master bedroom and office, and connect them with the backyard seating area and fountain. Ipe latticework acts as a privacy sunscreen outdoors, whereas indoors maple cabinetry complements the concrete (continued on page 28)

Marion Brenner

A floating staircase above the “reading nook” in the great room takes one up to the added bedroom and bathroom.

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Second-story addition (continued from page 26)

floor and kitchen counter. The couple selected sustainable design elements and modern furnishings, opting to mix neutral tones with bold splashes of color here and there.

The coupleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s children are grown, and when grandchildren came along the small second bedroom and full bath located off the glassed-in entryway felt limiting. Fisher figured adding a third bedroom and bathroom upstairs â&#x20AC;&#x153;would improve the resale value of the house,â&#x20AC;? so the architect and contractor were asked to come back on the job nine years later to create a seamless second-story addition. Between the required setbacks and two long barrel-vaulted light scoops that punch up into the flat roof and provide a row of clerestory windows running the length of the house, there really was only one buildable spot. Small made â&#x20AC;&#x153;a surgical incisionâ&#x20AC;? in a raised platform that served as a reading nook in one corner of the great room and took out a wall. She then added a vertical post to support a beam, and created a floating staircase with a gray-painted steel base thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;cantilevered off the wall, and the (white oak) treads are wedge-shaped to make them more graceful,â&#x20AC;? she explains. Above the staircase a triangular set of rectangular windows look out on mature oaks, the same trees that frame the new bedroom upstairs where the ceiling slopes up to a band of windows placed at Lindy Small

Outside, the second story blends seamlessly with the stucco-sided modern home.

(continued on page 30)

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Second-story addition (continued from page 28)

the highest point on the south side of the house. An orange painted floating wall separates the bedroom from the bathroom. The wall ends about 1.5 inches from the ceiling, and on one side is rimmed with glass, allowing more light in.

In the bathroom a tiled shower stall stands next to the vanity, which is mounted so it floats on a wall finished in a soothing sage green. Built-in wooden storage units cover another wall. The oak floor has radiant heating. More than a year after completion decorating is still in process, but with a foldout couch in place the space is already serving its purpose: “The addition makes it a threebedroom/three-bath house, which makes it more versatile if we ever sell,” Castellano says. Fisher adds, “When we initially planned the house, we built it knowing we’ll never leave here, but we at least have the option of selling it.” H&G Resources: Architect: Lindy Small, Orinda, 510-910-0186, Building contractor: Drew Maran Construction, Palo Alto, 650-323-8541, Landscape designer: Bernard Trainor & Associates, Monterey, 831- 655-1414,

Lindy Small

The new bedroom and bathroom are separated by an orange, painted floating wall, which ends below the ceiling.

Goal of project: Add second story to existing house

Size of home, lot: 2,193-sq-ft home on 5,625 sq-ft lot

Unanticipated issues: Limited building envelope

Time to complete: 5 months

Year house built: Original house in 2004, second story in 2013

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Home + Garden Design  

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