Real Estate

From spa to utilitarian

Couple updated two bathrooms, gained storage

The mini-spa, with its big glass-block stall and whirlpool bath -- all done with "low-budget elegance" -- was the one room Kathy Stark hated in the Old Mountain View home she and her husband Christopher Aoki bought in 2009.

So, five years later, she was delighted to reconfigure that bathroom, ditch the greenhouse window (which extended into the shady side of the house where nothing much could grow) and finally get a decent linen closet.

Beginning with Angie's List to check out background and reviews, Stark and Aoki chose to work with Kristie Schneider, a project designer with Case Design/Remodeling of San Jose.

"They seemed the place to go for marriage-preserving remodeling work," Stark says, noting that her husband wasn't nearly as keen on tackling the projects as she was.

Today a simple white tub, with a built-in shower, is lined with porcelain tile and trimmed with small slate tiles. A shelf to hold shampoo and soap is recessed in the wall.

The color scheme in the revamped bathroom -- light beige and cream -- is quiet.

The countertop in the redone bathroom is Blanco Capri Silestone, and the cabinetry is painted white, with polished chrome pulls.

"We kept what was the prior owner's selection of a subdued background," says Stark, who is an artist; she says she's happy with the Swiss Coffee color.

And, Aoki especially enjoys the deep sink and high faucet, much more utilitarian than the spa, his wife adds.

A big plus for the couple is the linen closet, with an electric outlet inside to plug in the Dust Buster. Additional storage is above the new toilet.

And, grab bars are situated strategically near the toilet and in the tub/shower.

A second project involved adding a stainless-steel bar sink with a large storage cabinet in the studio/sun room that earlier owners had added on to the house. They had already replaced the narrow steps with wider, wooden ones, and enlarged the door to the room. And the frame of one exterior window was rotting, Stark says, so they knew they needed to replace that.

Since the sun room was mainly used as her art studio, a sink would come in very handy, she says.

And choosing a style for the new cabinetry was easy: They simply echoed what they'd just put in the newly remodeled bathroom, including the Silestone counter. The big difference was the Hansgrohe bar faucet and the Dawn USA sink.

They then opted to replace the sink, counter and toilet (with a Toto Drake II) in the master bathroom and the flooring with engineered wood that blends with the hickory hardwood throughout the house.

The sun room/studio, formerly a screened porch, opens onto a Calstone-paved patio that winds around the corner of the house.

Stark says the brick that was there simply didn't match anything else in the house. They followed the general layout of the old brick patio and path, extending it a bit to accommodate the outdoor grill.

They also removed a small patch of grass and are experimenting with where a lemon tree will thrive. Two Japanese maples were added, to compensate for the loss of their neighbor's tree that is dying.

Stark is pretty happy with the project, but if she were to do it again, she says, she'd choose a more rounded shape for her master-bathroom faucet.

"This faucet collects spots," she says, and needs constant wiping.

She also might choose a longer-lasting flooring for the master bathroom.

"It better last another 60 years," she said, smiling.

But she's already thinking about the next possible project: extending the front room to make it into a comfortable spot for watching TV.


Design/build: Kristie Schneider, CKBR, project designer; Case Design/Remodeling of San Jose, 408-809-7544

Lighting, plumbing fixtures: Build

Patio paving: Method Paving, Santa Clara

Goal of project:

Replace "spa" bathroom with more utilitarian bathroom with linen closet; add sink to studio; update master bathroom

Unanticipated issues/regrets:

Needed to replace the bathroom window glass with tempered glass

Year house built:

1946, with a 1980s-era extension

Size of home, lot:

1,600-square-foot house on 5,663-square-foot lot

Time to complete:

About two months each build time for studio/master bath and hall bath projects, plus planning time


About $50,000 each for studio and master bath and hall bath

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