Real Estate

No place like home

Designer returns to childhood home to create dream kitchen

Even as a kid growing up in the middle of Los Altos, Amy Fischer knew the yellow flowered wallpaper in the kitchen was just wrong.

By the time she was in high school and working at the local wallpaper store, Cudahy's, her parents indulged her need to change their d├ęcor, one room at a time. The first: swapping the yellow flowers for a sophisticated border at the ceiling.

After her mom died in 2008, Amy and her husband, Dan, and their two children moved in with her dad. He soon gave her free rein to change anything she wanted. After selling their house in Sunnyvale, the Fischers poured the profits (and more) into upgrading the two bathrooms, adding a sun room/exercise area off the master bedroom, replacing the landscaping and completely redoing the kitchen.

Because she worked with Owen Signature Homes, she was able to serve as her own general contractor, hiring subcontractors that she had already worked with and knew well. "They gave me a little extra time and care and attention," she says.

Fischer started with an image of what she wanted to turn the 1970s kitchen (think large white tiles, dark grout) into, without pushing out any walls. Her first thought was a classic, all-white look. But, her husband favored the antique glazed cabinets he'd seen in one of her earlier projects.

The color scheme was ultimately determined by discovery of a Brazilian granite. "I wanted something I've never seen," says Fischer, who's seen a lot of counter tops. "This looked like artwork!"

Then she worked her way down her personal wish list:

* polished marble micro-mosaic squares as a backsplash behind the fluted, apron-front sink and Viking Professional range, as well as around the eating alcove;

* handy and decorative storage for plates (in an open rack), cups and bowls;

* a two-drawer dishwasher;

* a Liebherr double-doored refrigerator, with two bottom pullout freezer drawers;

* pullout drawers for pots and pans (with no cabinet doors), pullout baskets for fruits and vegetables;

* narrow pullout columns to hang kitchen towels or store waxed paper and tin foil;

* a wider pullout column next to the stove for spices, flour and sugar;

* pullout bins for trash and recyclables.

Fischer's goal was to make the old kitchen more efficient and seem bigger. She achieved that by removing the old peninsula, centering the sink under the window and designing cabinets that were functional, attractive and located in logical places.

Since she didn't want to clutter up the counter tops (and hide that beautiful granite) with a toaster or coffee pot, she added an appliance garage in the corner. Less-used appliances are housed in other cabinets.

As a kitchen designer, Fischer focuses on how exactly the client will use the space. She knew she wanted her cutlery and knives easily accessible but not on that counter top, so she built inserts in the drawers near the stove.

Even the flooring is practical, and eco-sensitive. She chose anti-microbial, acoustical cork flooring, which, she says, bounces back rather than dents when things are dropped on it -- plus it feels good to walk on.

An old table of her dad's, once refinished and raised to the right height, fits perfectly into the eating alcove, echoing the angles of the bay. The table sits next to a built-in shallow cabinet where the family can subtly recharge phones or iPod and hang keys, with low drawers to store pens, tape and scissors. Fischer couldn't find the right cork for the bulletin board, so she adapted a welcome mat.

Thinking about what she could have done differently, Fischer admits she got exactly what she wanted -- something she'd wanted since she was a child.

Resources:

Interior designer: Amy Fischer, Signature Interiors of Los Altos, 445 S. San Antonio Road, Suite 205, Los Altos, 650-948-1913

Goal of project:

Add state-of-the-art appliances, maximize storage, use eco-friendly products while updating kitchen

Unanticipated issues:

Although ordered well in advance, stove delivery was two weeks late.

Year house built:

1950s

Size of kitchen:

215 sq. ft.

Time to complete:

Six weeks

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