Real Estate

A project that grew ... and grew

Designer adds drama to unassuming home

Linda Walton says that she and her husband bought their Palo Alto foothills two-story home because of the backyard tennis court.

"I knew that the kitchen cabinets would need to be replaced and the bathrooms remodeled," Walton says. She did not envision that her 5-bedroom, 3-bath, unassuming home would morph into a 4-bedroom, 4-bath showcase with a dramatic modernistic arch in the kitchen, a Japanese-inspired master bathroom and a jewel box of a master-bedroom closet until she started working with interior designer Dan Danenberg.

Danenberg says that he was inspired to use bright wall colors -- turquoise, orange, yellow, eggplant -- throughout the house by the owners' collection of "big sky" Kansas paintings. "I can work in any style, but I prefer contemporary," he says.

What was once a simple U-shaped kitchen with one window is now an airy room with a wall of floor-to-ceiling French doors. The indoor/outdoor connection is accentuated by using the same limestone tile floor in the kitchen and adjacent patio. Danenberg designed the black granite-topped island that houses the microwave and dishwasher, and features a nine-foot-long solid glass eating counter, which juts out from the island and is supported by a stainless-steel pole.

The high-gloss Irpinia cherry cabinets were custom made in Canada. Four additional cabinets with translucent glass fronts and stainless-steel surrounds add variety.

"I don't cook but I like retro," Walton says, explaining why the orange Turbo Chef oven coexists nicely with the modern Wolf range and stainless-steel appliances.

"The mason cut every tile into five pieces and re-assembled them into the pattern I designed," Danenberg says, describing the slanted columns for the archway that leads from the kitchen into the family room. The fired, black stone tile-covered supports are topped by sky-blue stucco arcs that break in the middle. "It's the illusion of an arch," said Danenberg.

Upstairs a bathroom was added and a bedroom eliminated, the latter co-opted by the master closet. Manmade floors nicely approximate the look of the original mahogany ones downstairs.

"Asian spas have shade shelters made out of bamboo and tied weeds," Danenberg says. This is the effect he was trying to recreate with the undulating stainless-steel canopy for the master bath ceiling that he designed and Nevarez Machinery in San Jose fabricated. The details extend to the end of the metal tubes, which resemble the end of a bamboo reed.

The stainless-steel Japanese Furo soaking tub is surrounded by smooth river rocks. The backdrop for it is a black slate, mica-infused, 8-foot by 4-foot, 3/4-inch-wide slab that appears to be floating. A nearby black Kohler hatbox toilet looks like a bench.

Metal-framed mirrors hang on a dramatic fuchsia wall over hammered-nickel sinks set in a white marble counter. The tile floor, the cabinetry and the honed, black tile walls are the same materials used throughout. Indeed, the materials appear like a leitmotif in all the remodeled bathrooms.

Of the master closet, Danenberg says, "I wanted to create the sense of an elegant boutique." Cherry-wood drawers, shelves and hanging areas provide ample storage. An island is topped with translucent glass inserts that mimic the glass used on the sliding-glass closet doors. German hardware supports the doors from above "so that you don't have dust and grime interfering with the rollers," he says.

The remodeled house is a primer on workmanship. The shoe closet in the master bath features a 250-pound metal-embellished sliding door that can be opened with one finger.


Designer: Dan Danenberg, Danenberg Design, East Palo Alto, 650-291-0240

Building and landscape contractor: Ralph Lewis, Ralph Lewis Construction, Portola Valley, 650-996-5572

Glass counter: Kersey Glass Works, Hayward, 510-782-7813,

Goal of project:

Update and create a modern setting inspired by the owner's art collection

Unanticipated issues:

Project took longer as its scope expanded

Year house built:


Size of home:

About 3,000 sq ft

Time to complete:

About one year


Expanded as the project grew from a modest kitchen redo to include much of the home


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