Real Estate

Lofty aspirations

Adding style, pizzazz to dated spaces

by Lena Pressesky / photos by Dasja Dolan

Cathy and Todd Fernandez's two-story Mountain View home in the Waverly Park neighborhood was well maintained, but it featured an outdated design that didn't reflect the building's character.

"We wanted to honor the contemporary feel of the house," Cathy says. "The house was built in 1991. ... Everything looked nice, ... but it was outdated. We wanted an upgrade."

"The house was fairly original," contractor John Hammerschmidt adds. "What was updated wasn't done tastefully or by today's trends."

With major overhauls of the kitchen, living room, master bath and their daughter's bedroom, the Fernandez family transformed their home full of '90s appliances, Pergo flooring and dated brass accents into a chic and contemporary space perfect for the stay-at-home mom, software engineer manager, two children, two cats and one shaggy and excitable puppy.

The home's journey to modernity was not Cathy and Todd's first go at remodeling.

"We'd done a down-to-the-studs remodel on our other house," says Cathy of their previous home in the same neighborhood, which they had moved from to fulfill their dreams of living on a cul-de-sac where the kids could play. She had kept a lot of resources, including materials and tear sheets that helped them with their upgrade. Of course, she adds, "we spent a lot of time falling down the Houzz rabbit hole," referring to the popular home-design website.

The trouble with the old kitchen wasn't simply its dated design. The appliances were inefficiently placed, the study area caused congestion and an awkwardly placed wet bar (complete with expansive mirror background) proved unnecessary for the family.

"We wanted the flow to be improved," says Cathy, noting her new kitchen's accessibility to the refrigerator and oven. With more counter space, Cathy can cook how she wants to -- by pulling out every pot and pan and taking over the kitchen. And the kitchen is more than just functional. One of Cathy's favorite design details in the house is the chevron tile backsplash behind the stove.

"It's a gorgeous kitchen you can cook in, too," Hammerschmidt says.

Todd, who works in the tech industry, was the driving force behind many of the unseen upgrades, Hammerschmidt says.

"Todd had a list of requirements that were more high-tech," he says, speaking of the energy-efficient whole-house fan, iPhone-controlled entertainment system and multiroom sound wiring.

Upstairs, the master bedroom continues the home's serene blue, gray and teal color theme and has expansive windows that let in plenty of natural light. As does the master bath, which previously featured soffits and shuttered windows. Cathy and Todd put in a bigger window with rain glass for privacy -- a change that brightens the spa-like bathroom retreat.

"I love everything about the master bath," says Cathy, who is most happy with the custom dark wood cabinetry that adds much-needed storage space. The couple freed up some room by nixing the vanity, which Cathy says she would never use. Contemporary flair in the form of a chandelier over the tub and gray and white marble tile detail in the shower complete the bathroom's cool yet luxurious vibe.

Another element Cathy loves is the loft space in her daughter's bedroom, a pièce de résistance that everyone in the family is more than a little jealous of. The original room had a strange bump-out closet that resulted in dead space unusable for additional storage. So, they expanded the closet to walk-in size and created a loft above, accessible by ladder through the closet. Decorated with blues and purples, a beanbag reading nook and a writing desk, the loft is the perfect space for the 11-year-old to play with friends or enjoy on her own.

With special details like their daughter's loft and the Pergo replaced by real hardwood, the family now has an interior that's "more in fitting with the house," Cathy says.


Building contractor: John Hammerschmidt, Hammerschmidt Construction, Inc., Los Altos, 650-948-4200

Goal of project: Update and modernize, improve flow of kitchen

Unanticipated issues: The loft's original design featured a spiral staircase that city codes required increased floor space for

Year house built: 1991

Size of home, lot: 3,277-sq-ft home on 7,600-sq-ft lot

Time to complete: 4.5 months planning, 6.5 months construction

Budget: $250,000 to $500,000

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