Real Estate

Old vs. new

Modernizing the kitchen, creating a garage/studio, updates Professorville home

Like earlier projects undertaken to bring their 1909 home up to modern-day standards, renovation of the kitchen was a labor of love for Kathryn Dunlevie and Robert Hayes.

Since 1994 the couple has restored (and improved) their Professorville home, adding appropriate molding and forced-air heating, removing the "world's least efficient coat closet" and popping open the ceiling to create a "grand back entrance vs. (something for) the seven dwarfs," Dunlevie says. They copied details from the living room when adding columns in the bedroom (which hid old ducts), and they added built-in drawers next to the bedroom that parallel built-ins in the dining room.

The kitchen had been redone at least once since the turn of the last century, but the end result was pink cabinets, wood flooring to replace linoleum and an angled electric stove.

The first thing to go was the adjacent "powder room," and a pocket door was added for access to the back hallway. Getting rid of what Dunlevie referred to as the water closet allowed them to square off the room, allowing more space in their eat-in kitchen.

Dunlevie, an artist, pored over hand-drawn advertisements from 1912 to get just the right feel, she says. The result: glass-fronted cabinets that showcase her grandmother's china, marble counter tops with beadboard backsplash and glass pulls on the drawer fronts.

"I sweated every decision," Dunlevie says.

Stainless-steel appliances do not hark back to 1909, but include a Jenn-Air refrigerator with French doors on top and a large freezer drawer below and a Bertazoni gas stove with a Zephyr hood. A sheet of marble runs up the wall behind the stove.

Every project has its tradeoffs: To contain the costs, the couple kept the dishwasher and had the wood floors patched and refinished. "We got the mid-range stove, in order to get the (more costly) inset cabinet doors," she says.

But they didn't lose sight of the details, including adding astragal trim molding (half round, with a flat strip on either side) around windows and doors.

That attention to detail earned them a 2012 Reconstruction Award from Palo Alto Stanford Heritage (PAST) for rebuilding their detached garage. They had originally intended to renovate the space, which Dunlevie uses as her artist's studio, but they soon discovered it was made of scrap lumber and pieced-together cross beams.

When a piece of trim popped off, they called in a handyman to repair it, Dunlevie says, but he couldn't find anything to nail the trim to, due to dry rot.

All had to come down, but the facade had to be replicated in its original Mission Revival style, and the new garage built into the exact footprint of the old 11 only to current code.

"Now it's warm and dry 11 and insulated," Dunlevie says. Plus, the roof is no longer slanting up from one side, but symmetrically pitched with skylights.

"Now it feels like Chartres," she adds.

The exterior was finished with pebble-dash stucco, to match the house, and lights were added to each side.

While the garage project was completed, the kitchen was undertaken just a few months before a planned home wedding.

"The Friday before the wedding there were 15 workmen here," Dunlevie says, but all was done by the February big day. It helped that the contractor completed insulation and Sheetrocking between Christmas and New Year's, she says.

After the wedding, Dunlevie and Hayes refurbished the back porch, matching the original railing.


Architect: Judith Mattingly, Mattingly Thaler Architecture, San Francisco, 415-431-2848

==I Building contractor: John Merwin, Dimensional Construction, Inc., Woodside, 650-261-1917

Goal of project:

Update awful kitchen; rebuild garage

Unanticipated issues:

Dry rot in garage forced complete rebuilding

Year house built:


Size of home, lot:

About 3,000 sq ft on 7,500-sq-ft lot

Time to complete:

About 5 months


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