"We were not looking to move," the wife says. "We just fell in love with the property."
At the bottom of a sloping street in Portola Valley, the property contained a 1950s house that was in need of major renovation. They ended up rebuilding most of the house, retaining only the original bedroom wing, and adding 400 square feet.
"Pretty much everything I love is East Coast," she says. The traditional feel of the new great room is enhanced by such details as transoms above the French doors, chair-rail moldings on the baseboards and casings over the doors.
"We invented some of the details to suit the situation," interior designer Kendra Nash says. White oak-stained ebony, 6-inch plank floors contribute to the sophisticated, country atmosphere.
The dining area to the left of the entrance is open but defined by extending the walls a bit, creating bracket corners and by including a column in the corner not attached to a wall. The couple's long mahogany-stained table from their former house fits perfectly -- and benches, rather than chairs, create the less formal atmosphere they were striving for.
Nash suggested the Donghia grass cloth on the dining area walls. "It's organic, yet streamlined and it has a sheen that warms up the room at night," she says. A long, black metal light feature from Urban Electric, with exposed Edison bulbs, mimics the linearity of the table.
Comfortable upholstered furniture invites one to sit in front of the fireplace, which is surrounded by built-in bookcases. "All the shelves are adjustable," the wife says. This woodwork, and all the custom cabinetry, was fabricated by Burgess Hill. In this area the ceiling soars to double height with five beams meeting in a V-shape. Restoration Hardware lanterns keep the atmosphere as do the French doors that provide lovely views of the garden. A round window above the French doors breaches the gap between the doors and the high ceiling.
A 7-foot by 4-foot island dominates the open kitchen. The off-white, honed Carrera-marble top extends to shelter storage and bookshelves beneath, allowing foot room for those sitting on the leather chairs. "We used honed black granite on the counters to contrast with the island," Nash says. "We didn't put cabinets over the stainless-steel refrigerator because they wanted to preserve the "Old World industrial feel," she adds. The subway tiles are beveled, creating shadows that outline each tile on the wall. The custom cabinetry throughout the house is inset (no hinges showing) and self-closing.
"I really wanted a breakfast nook because we had one when I was growing up," the wife says. The custom built-in benches (with seats that lift to provide storage) and table overlook what will someday be the vegetable garden.
"Continuity is expected," Nash says. "It is better to mix as it appears more effortless. We mix metals throughout by combining polished-nickel kitchen hardware with door hardware and hinges in oil-rubbed bronze."
What sounds incongruous -- patterns, mixing metals -- with a trained designer became a work of art.
Take the master bathroom, for example. The countertops are honed Carrera marble and there are 3-inch by 6-inch subway tiles on the shower and bathroom walls, 1.5-inch honeycomb honed Carrera marble tiles on the shower floor, and 9-inch by 18-inch off-set brick tiles on the bathroom floor -- all co-exist harmoniously, in a gray and white palette.
For the mudroom, Nash designed a coat rack that would look perfectly authentic in a grade school. This room also houses the stackable washer and dryer, a folding area as well as a built-in desk with mail cubbies above it -- and even a blackboard -- a room that best exemplifies the wife's claim that "every square foot of this house is usable."
Architect: Gary Ahern, Focal Point Design, Menlo Park, 650 326-2800; [email protected]
Building contractor: Loren Dakin, Sr., Dakin Construction, Redwood City, [email protected], 650 465-7982
Interior designer: Kendra Nash, Parc Interiors, San Carlos, [email protected], 650 533-7331
Landscape designer: Keith Willig, Keith Willig Landscape Architecture and Construction, Menlo Park, [email protected], 650 326-2293
Goal of project:
Renovate, update a ranch-style home
Making older section plumb with new; possible drainage issues averted by installing double sump pumps, multiple drains, dry wells and humidity fans
Year house built:
Size of home, lot:
2,400-sq-ft home on 1.5 acres
Time to complete:
3 months planning, 5.5 months construction