Real Estate

Form follows function

Family needed access to backyard, so they started from scratch

"We wanted this house because of the backyard," says Kristine Mostofizadeh, the parent of three young children along with her husband, Javad. Unfortunately, the only access to that yard in the original Midtown Palo Alto home, which Javad describes as "dark and chopped up," was through the bedrooms.

In order to create a home that fit their lifestyle -- an updated, open, light-filled floor plan that took advantage of the setting -- the couple ultimately decided that they would tear down the existing home. "Only one wall of the garage stayed," Kristine says. "We kept the original footprint and added 500 square feet upstairs."

French doors at the front of the house now allow light to stream into the open living/dining area. A structural ceiling beam differentiates the space. Interior designer Esin Karliova explains that the structural beams that support the second story impeded wiring for heating and cooling. Thus, the heat in this area is provided by a gas fireplace.

"It's a zero-clearance fireplace so there's no requirement for tile surround," Karliova says. A piece of reclaimed pine from the Pt. Reyes fire serves as a simple mantel.

The floor is white oak, rift and quartered, and all the built-in cabinetry was designed by Karliova and fabricated by Griffin Custom Cabinetry in San Mateo.

The archway entrance to the kitchen, enhanced by glass-fronted cabinets on either side, is off the dining area. The arch is somewhat unexpected in what seems to be a more streamlined plan.

"I wanted contemporary, but we mixed design elements," Kristine says, pointing out the crown molding and the painted cabinetry.

A huge island, made of whitewashed oak topped with soapstone, provides storage, houses the microwave and offers a pleasant place to have breakfast. Behind the hanging vent for the Wolf stove is a large, blue-glass trimmed window that frames the jasmine growing on the fence outside.

"They told me that I had to have tile behind a cooktop," Kristine says, "but I held out for the window."

A backsplash of gray, glass subway tiles is positioned behind the sink. A sliding barn door with a blackboard front leads to the laundry/mudroom.

The family room, with its wall of sliding-glass doors, provides the access to the backyard. Custom cabinetry runs along one wall.

"We created a recessed detail in the ceiling which disguises the support beams," Karliova says. "And we fit the rope lighting behind the crown molding," which fits with her general philosophy: "Use whatever structure you have," she adds.

On the first floor, to the left of Javad's "media closet" is the guest bedroom/office, which overlooks the back porch. The room is bright thanks to a skylight in the porch roof.

Kristine describes the turquoise, gray, white and green linear tile design in the guest bathroom as "Mediterranean meets contemporary." An arch in the shower heightens the effect.

Several things make the staircase leading to the three upstairs bedrooms more interesting. The stairs are wider at the bottom and the first step is triangular and adjacent to a column with a recessed panel. Niches on the wall bordering the stairs add depth, and there is a cabinet at the top of the stairs. Skylights in the 12-foot upstairs hallway keep the space from feeling cramped.

Care was taken with the upstairs windows to respect both the neighbors' privacy as well as the residents'. Javad explains that this is why one of the bathroom windows has an opaque bottom.

In the master bedroom a ceiling fan hangs from the center of the coffered ceiling.

"The ceiling beam was distressed by hand," Kristine says. Another barn door slides to reveal the walk-in closet. Kristine says that she really appreciates the sun tunnel, which provides light but doesn't encourage fading.

Both the master bathroom and the kids' bathrooms have skylights.

"I love the river rocks on our shower floor," Kristine says. "They massage the feet." Bamboo cabinets, CaesarStone counters and flagstone floor tiles create a sophisticated and casual atmosphere.

"Notice that the entry has a place to take off shoes," Karliova says. This is one of the many features that allow the home to be Green Point-rated.


Interior designer: Esin Karliova, Studio Karliova,, 408-718-3746

Contractor:== Sean Supple, Supple Homes Inc.,, 650-380-9352

Goal of project:

New home had to connect with backyard and have a light-filled, open floor plan.

Unanticipated issues:

How long it took for city approval, given the fact that neighbors had input as well

Year house built:

Original home in early 1950s, now 2011

Size of home, lot:

2,968.5-sq-ft home on 7,398-sq-ft lot

Time to complete:

1 year for design and planning; 6 1/2 months for construction



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