Real Estate

Creating rooms with views


When the couple bought their three-bedroom Portola Valley cottage they loved the cozy way it nestled into its sylvan, hillside setting. However, once they started their family, they envisioned that the space might be a bit too cozy for a family of four.

Stan Field, of Field Architecture, who worked on the remodel with his son, Jess, explained that they wanted to maintain the feel of the original home, yet take full advantage of the site by creating both physical and visual access to the outside.

"We added 1,500 square feet and rebuilt 500 square feet of the existing home," the husband says. The addition cascades down the hill, with the office and bathroom below the expanded kitchen and the multipurpose room, with a 17-foot ceiling, on the lowest level. The office can peer into the room below, or be closed off with a sliding opaque glass screen.

A deck off the multi-purpose room connects to a freestanding sanctuary as well as to a level area of lawn where the pool used to be. In the old home, this area was accessible only via steep stairs from the deck off the living room.

The staircase in the addition consists of large, shallow steps -- almost mini-landings. "We wanted the journey to be the destination," Stan Field says. These generous stairs encourage you to linger and admire the indigenous plantings that can be viewed through the glass wall that encloses one side of the staircase.

Yet, as you approach the home it looks like a cottage. Once the front door opens, however, you are presented with the new Blomberg windows that showcase the northwest view of Portola Valley.

"At night we can see lights of Canada College," the husband says.

A few steps down from the entry is a built-in seating area utilizing the salvaged eucalyptus and koa wood that is used throughout the home.

"The cushions are chemical-free latex," the wife says. The balustrades lining the sunken living room off to the right are glass, adding to the open feel. Santos mahogany floors unify the spaces.

To the left of the entry is the newly enlarged kitchen, which features a CaesarStone-topped island.

"Notice that all the cabinetry throughout the house (made by Wood Shanti) is on the western walls," the wife says. The kitchen table, from Design Within Reach, is flanked by a built-in banquette, as well as Condi House chairs facing the view. Above the banquette, a window with butt-glazed edges -- glass on glass at the corners -- juts out.

"The standing seam metal roof is almost flat, and there are no gutters," the husband says. "When it rains, it looks like a waterfall."

The green features of the home are impressive, as you would expect since the husband is an energy consultant. In addition to radiant hydronic heat, solar thermal panels, a tankless water heater, low-VOC paint, FSC-certified custom cabinetry, EnergyStar appliances and LED lighting, the frame of the house and the under-flooring consist of pre-fab structural-insulated panels (SIPs) -- essentially sandwiches that provide foam insulation surrounded by strand board.

"It is very energy efficient and strong," Field says. Also, since it is all-in-one, it decreases construction time. "There is a gap between the SIPs and the siding, which allows for ventilation and discourages mold and protects from direct sun," he adds.

In the ongoing effort to create what Field describes as a "dialog between the old and the new," they chose Proderma siding, a bakelite product with a thin veneer of real wood. The result is a thoroughly modern look that is reminiscent of redwoods.

The access to the carport is through the mudroom off the kitchen, and across a deck. "We couldn't have an enclosed garage due to city regulations," the husband says. The solution, both visually interesting and unobtrusive, is a structure sheathed in a horizontal lattice of ipe wood with a metal roof.

The husband has another suggestion for a healthy home: "Take off your shoes! It's a simple way to keep the house clean."


Architect: Stan and Jess Field, Field Architecture

Building contractor: Mike Donahue, MD Construction, 408-821-4755

Interior designer: Thanh Vess, T. Vess Interiors

Landscape designer: Bernard Trainor, Trainor Associates

Goal of project:

Provide more space, update and open to setting, but maintain original "cottage" feel

Unanticipated issues:

Expansive soil required multiple gradings; connecting the sloping walls of the original home to the addition

Year house built:


Size of home, lot:

3,150 sq. ft., on .73 acres

B Time to complete:==

two years

Original budget:


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