When Terri Yamamoto and her husband, Michael, bought their Palo Alto Greenmeadow 3 Eichler in 2002, they knew they wanted to update it and "make it their own," Yamamoto says.
"I was from Hawaii and I wanted light," she adds.
What they really wanted was to emphasize Eichler's indoor/outdoor sensibility -- but in an even bigger way.
Working with architect Mark Marcinek, who had been involved with an earlier remodel, they re-sited the kitchen so it's more centered and tied to the backyard.
"It was kind of closed off to us," Yamamoto says.
Today large white terrazzo tiles replace the darker slate throughout the public spaces, with bamboo flooring used in the bedroom wing. The dark ceiling was sanded down to expose the natural redwood, with large beams painted white. Six skylights are spread throughout the house, casting light on the fireplace, a bathroom and a hallway.
From nearly every vantage point in the house, one can view the outdoors, either through an added door or through a now-translucent door.
A second theme is configurability: Many tables are on wheels. For example, the "eat-in" table has stainless-steel legs (on wheels), with a CaesarStone countertop, which was leftover from counters in the kitchen and master bathroom. The top overlaps a bamboo kitchen cabinet with deep storage drawers with a stainless-steel countertop -- also on wheels. For special occasions, the dining room table can be rolled into the living room and voila! The kitchen cabinet becomes a serving buffet.
Even the coffee table -- again glass-topped with stainless-steel legs -- is on large, colorful wheels. The furniture is modular and can easily be reconfigured.
The terrazzo tile continues to the back wall, where glass doors (which now open out) and windows were heightened to 8 feet. The patio picks up the large, square tile theme, only this time they're made of concrete. As in all Eichlers, the ceiling continues to the outdoors, forming an eave over the concrete patio.
Outside sits another stainless-steel table on wheels (by Room and Board), which can be rolled indoors and "docked" to make the dining-room table larger.
The galley kitchen is filled with bamboo cabinets, offering multiple roll-out pantries and plenty of storage. Only the sink, cabinetry and stainless-steel backsplash tiles are truly visible from the living room; the Viking four-burner stovetop sits further down that wall. The large Liebherr French-door refrigerator with double freezer drawers, as well as the Bosch microwave and oven, are seen only from the kitchen itself.
Yamamoto's favorite room is the new master bathroom.
"We splurged a little and got a soaking tub," she says. A skylight above and a large window overlooking a Corten-steel planter box filled with bamboo bring light into the room. Two stainless-steel bowl sinks sit above the bamboo cabinets, which include built-in laundry bins. Large indoor windows between bathroom and bedroom offer a view of the exposed redwood ceiling next door.
Yamamoto points to a subtle detail suggested by Marcinek: Instead of making the terrazzo tiles facing the tub flat, one row juts out a tad. The walls are covered with eco-friendly Kirei Board made of stalks of sorghum, offering textural and color interest.
A pocket door separates the toilet and family shower from the sinks and tub.
The master bedroom was extended in two directions, allowing more space for the bathroom as well as moving the closets back into the room.
They also captured more space when they made their atrium smaller, adding a fountain made from a Japanese tetsubachi bowl. The space within is used for even more closet/storage areas.
Marcinek also designed their backyard, with its large concrete-tile patio, a grassy area where the kids can play and two raised vegetable beds.
"We wanted to go as edible as we could," Yamamoto says, pointing to the many fruit trees that line the back fence -- strawberry guava, olive, Eureka and Meyer lemons, kiwi, grapes, Santa Rosa plums, fuyu persimmon, pomegranate, Arctic rose nectarine, Asian pear, fig, blood orange, dwarf avocado and more.
The trees are planted close together by design, with the idea that they would not be allowed to grow too tall so the kids can reach the fruit.
Their next project: more seating and artwork outdoors.
Architect/landscape designer: Mark Marcinek, M110 Architecture, San Francisco, 415-334-7670
Building contractor: Scott Flegel, Flegel Construction, Inc., 408-269-1101
Goal of project:
Reconfigure space to emphasize indoor/outdoor sensibility, adding light everywhere
Decided to add more space after granted permit, so needed to revise and resubmit
Year house built:
Size of home, lot:
added 265 sq ft; now 2,735 sq ft on 7,500-sq-ft lot; 5 bedrooms, 3 baths
Time to complete:
about 8 months