Real Estate

An eye for detail

Renovation blends new with old, honoring heritage

Nancy Ferguson is no stranger to renovating an older home. She and her husband did major remodeling to a Charles Sumner-designed home in Crescent Park, which was included in the Palo Alto Stanford (PAST) Heritage Holiday House Tour in 2007.

But after her husband's untimely death and with her family grown up, Ferguson was ready to downsize when a charming 1930s home came on the market later that year. Trained as an architect, and working for years as a museum curator, Ferguson was poised to do a remodel that kept the heart of the house intact, while upgrading the kitchen and adding a master suite.

Not everything is brand new. Ferguson had some cabinets moved and reused, while others were copied and etched-glass fronts added. A not-too-deep stainless-steel sink is new, as is the narrow Bosch dishwasher and Sub-Zero refrigerator with a roll-out freezer. She kept the old Viking Professional four-burner range.

A new china cabinet was built, with molding matching the originals in the room.

Ferguson designed the tile backsplash pattern, with a blue and green design over the stove, which complements the Silestone "Dali" counter tops. Later she asked her favorite East Bay potter, Mark Untener -- whose work she first saw at a Menlo Park craft fair -- to create a couple of ceramic plates in the same colors.

"I'm really into supporting local ceramicists and jewelers," she says, pointing to the rounded shelf with a tasteful display of bowls she already owned.

After a few months, Ferguson loves everything about her new kitchen except the terra-cotta tile floor.

"It's not too practical with a dog," she says, pointing to the scratch marks. But she does like the color and design.

In the small room next to the kitchen, upper cabinets became lower ones, and the window was moved 1 foot to accommodate adding a staircase that leads to the new master suite. The original ironing board remains, and similar shallow, vertical storage is used for CDs.

What once was a tiny "airplane" bathroom, off the back bedroom, is now the laundry room.

The staircase is made of bamboo, leading to a landing with a large closet. Some of those downstairs cabinets were moved upstairs to the new bathroom.

"I like to save everything," Ferguson says.

The kitchen's blue and green colors are repeated in the upstairs bathroom, with angled blue tiles on the floor and green subway trim. The colors are echoed in the new shower.

For the new master bedroom, Ferguson replicated the wood-framed windows, but added double panes for better insulation. Screens can be pulled down from the top.

Many of the downstairs touches are repeated upstairs, from the arched doors in dark wood to the textured plaster walls, wrought-iron curtain rods and numerous wall niches.

Where the arched door didn't work was the upstairs bathroom; there a pocket door (in the same dark wood) was added.

The graceful living room -- with its dark wood-beamed ceiling, ironwork trim and alternating squares in the oak floors -- remains untouched.

The funky 1930s downstairs bathroom still boasts the original pedestal sink and turquoise toilet, retrofitted to save water. Only the floor needed to be replaced; Ferguson was able to find turquoise and lilac tiles that matched.

"The kitchen is just so much better than the old one was -- more counters, cabinets. The cabinets aren't even all full. I have extra space!" Ferguson says.


Building contractor: Michael Meyer Fine Woodworking, Mountain View, 650-960-3447

Counter tops: The Countertop Store of San Carlos, 650-598-0100

Ceramic artist: Mark Untener, Oakland, 510-590-0838

Goal of project:

Upgrade kitchen, add master suite

Unanticipated issues:

Needed to move window 1 foot to the right to accommodate installation of staircase

Year house built:

About 1930

Size of home, lot:

Was 2,058 sq ft, now 2,480 sq ft on a 6,000-sq-ft lot

Time to complete:

About a year

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