Real Estate

A four-floor facelift

Sharon Heights townhouse gets a new look

by Susan Golovin

Six years after she moved into her four-story townhouse, Cynthia Schreuder remodeled the kitchen. Ten years later, she decided to do a more extensive renovation, which included incorporating an exterior atrium into the house and updating the downstairs living room, the office on the third floor and the fourth-floor hall, guest room and bathroom.

"I had been cleaning this atrium for 18 years, and it was unusable space," Schreuder says. Now the 120-square-foot area provides a comfortable and elegant parlor and a powder room. The glass-domed space, which soars to about 20 feet, is the center of the home and therefore enhances the adjacent dining room and all the areas that view it from above. The staircases, previously enclosed, have been opened to the view.

The floors in this entry/parlor area are cream-colored Italian marble with burnt-orange border, 18-inch squares set on the diagonal.

"The marble is also used on the risers of the red oak stairs to help with flow," she says.

The floor in the new powder room has a reverse design from the one in the parlor. The room features a sink, surrounded by a custom marble slab, set into a full dresser that Schreuder purchased from Selby House in Menlo Park.

"The dining room is the smallest and darkest room," Schreuder, who served as her own interior designer, says. This is why she had her contractor fabricate a wall of mirrors that brings in light from the kitchen. Also, a cleverly placed painting with perspective that draws you in, is placed opposite the cherry-lined entrance, thus giving the room depth. Persian rugs in the dining room and seating area provide continuity. The assorted mahogany dining-room chairs are treasured pieces from Schreuder's grandmother.

"We curved and smoothed the walls and used arches whenever possible," Schreuder says, explaining that she wanted to achieve a Mediterranean feel. The custom-designed wrought-iron staircase railings with their swirling design, topped in bronze, contribute to this effect. Schreuder says that she decided to keep crown moldings to a minimum since "there's a lot of architecture going on."

Schreuder had the solid wall that boxed in the stairs to the downstairs living room removed because "it felt like a tomb." A built-in cherry-wood bar, backed by mirrors and overhung with a grape-motif wooden arch she found in a catalog, is at the bottom of the stairs. The marble floor here segues seamlessly into red oak as you enter the living room.

"We removed the big old hulking fireplace and replaced it with a sleek, remote-controlled gas fireplace surrounded by slab marble," she says.

Up one floor from the seating area is Schreuder's office. An 8-foot by 4-foot mirror on this landing was fabricated for the space, its frame echoing the dining room entry. A large glass chandelier adds drama. The entry to the office is a door-less arch. Inside, a leather and mahogany screen, decorated with inlaid chess boards, can be used for privacy. Again, a fireplace was removed, making room for the cherry cabinetry that lines the room.

"We raised the ceiling about 6 inches and put in a soffit with LED lighting," she says.

A wall of cherry closets lines the corridor on the fourth floor which connects the two bedrooms. "The bronze handles are from France and cost as much as the doors," she says. From this perspective you look directly out the windows that comprise the dome. They can be used for ventilation since they are remotely controlled and have screens. A remodeled guest bathroom features fossilized marble and cherry cabinetry.

"I did want molding in the guest bedroom because it makes it cozy," Schreuder says. The red oak floor and Windsor windows are new.

"This is the only room that faces the street," she says. Another window faces the indoor view of the rooms below. Schreuder calls it the "Juliette door" because it sports a wrought-iron mini-balcony.


Architect: Brian Peters, Redwood City, 650-366-5120

Contractor: Clarum Homes, Palo Alto, 650-322-7069

Goal of project:

Update and create a sitting area on the first floor

Unanticipated issues:

The floors were uneven, so making the wood-to-marble transitions seamless was a challenge.

Year house built:


Size of home:

2,700 sq. ft.

Time to complete:

One year


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