Real Estate

The ultimate do-it-yourself project

Mountain View couple coordinated a major remodel

Aside from the unfinished landscaping and a few missing pieces of furniture, it's hard to tell Sam and Alice Katwan are recovering from an enormous remodeling project they coordinated themselves. The Mountain View couple looks very happy and at home in their recently upgraded space.

The remodel included an L-shaped addition to their kitchen and living room and an expansion of the master bedroom into a full suite. Warm browns and rounded edges predominate, accented by ornate light fixtures. The Old World finish evokes Tuscany and the Mediterranean.

This was all planned. The Katwans paid close attention to work on their house, down to the last and smallest details.

"By the time you get to the finish work, you just want to be done," Alice says. "Don't get burnt out, because the cosmetics are the most important part."

For the first two months of the remodel, the family lived up in Tahoe in another home they own. When they returned, they were able to keep a close eye on progress, as both Sam and Alice work from home as software salespeople.

"I'm sure it wasn't ideal for them," Alice says of the various vendors hired for the project. "But we caught mistakes a lot faster."

Before breaking ground, the Katwans had worked with an architect for almost a year. Before that, they did their own research on vacations and business travel.

"We spent a year gathering pictures," Alice says.

One motivation for the remodel was that the Katwans frequently throw parties for friends and family. A typical party for the Katwans involves 12 adults and 15 or more kids. Last Easter, the family hosted more than 60 family members.

"We have big families," Alice says. "We like the kitchen to be the center." The new kitchen roughly doubled in size, complete with an island and too many different-sized cabinets to count.

Even when they aren't throwing parties, the Katwans have a full house with three boys of their own: Sami Jr., 11; Anthony, 10; and Christopher, 6.

"The kids appreciate it a lot having lived through it," Alice says of the remodeled house. "They take care of it."

Some aspects of the remodel were designed with the kids in mind -- they now have their own den off the main living room, though it remains unfurnished.

Another great addition to a house for three young boys is the mudroom.

"God knows why we have a mudroom in California," Sam says. "We just call it the locker room." Three cubbies -- one for each son -- line a wall of the room.

The Katwans said they plan to stay in the house indefinitely as they raise their boys. That knowledge guided some of their decisions, especially when it came to staying within budget.

"We wanted to go all out as we have no plans to do it again," Alice says.

One example of where the couple went over budget is their new heating system, which divides the house into zones. While this functionality wasn't budgeted, "it was about being more efficient in the long run," Sam says.

Sam and Alice took the same approach to hiring contractors. Though it might have been cheaper and easier to hire unlicensed labor, everyone who worked on the remodel had a license, which made passing city inspections relatively low-hassle. Overall, the couple said the city of Mountain View was very cooperative. Sam said a policy about square footage was even changed because of the couple's situation.

Remaining work includes decorations, furniture and landscaping, but right now the couple is in "remodel hangover," Sam says.

"We need a month break," Alice adds.

Even if that month turns into years, the Katwans already have themselves a nice place to settle down.


Architect: LPMD Architects, Sunnyvale, 408-992-0280

Contractor: CRW Development, San Jose, 408-448-8270

Cabinets: Amberwood Products, San Jose, 408-938-1600

Lighting: Bay Lighting and Design, San Francisco, 415-552-4110

Tile: Simple Tile, San Jose, 408-205-8548

Appliances: Meyer Appliance, Mountain View, 650-968-8318

Floors: Conklin Brothers, San Jose, 408-266-2250

Granite: Da Vinci Marble, San Carlos, 650-595-2500 (raw material) and Quintal's Granite and Marble, San Jose, 408-422-3209 (installation)

Goal of project:

Expand living room, kitchen, and master bedroom to better equip the space for raising a family of five and throwing parties

Unanticipated issues:

Nothing spectacular beyond delays and expensive change orders

Year house built:


Size of home; lot:

2,750 sq ft on an 8,600-sq-ft lot

Time to complete:

7 months

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Like this comment
Posted by Homeowner
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 20, 2011 at 7:57 am

Beautiful job, and congratulations! We are using Meyer in Mountain View (appliance store and showroom on Castro St.) for our contractor. They oversee everything, so with them at the helm, we're doing a full-house remodel of our Mountain View Eichler. A word to the wise. If you're using a contractor, and most will I'm sure, be sure to choose one you get along with well because the trust level is high and you will be communicating often. We needed one who was close by and had a showroom. We had many, many meetings there on Sunday afternoons. Also, be patient and ready for schedule setbacks, since they are a part of remodeling, too. There are lots of fun moments as well, especially when we see something new and know we made the right decision. Those times are more frequent as we get closer to completion.

Like this comment
Posted by rebuilt
a resident of Southgate
on Jul 20, 2011 at 9:21 am

My contractor told me it costs roughly the same when doing a remodeling or building new,is it right?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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