Real Estate

Right-sizing, not downsizing

New home fits new phase of life

by Susan Golovin

Their three children had all graduated from college, and Lisa and Steven Schatz were ready to downsize, "but we weren't ready for a condo," Lisa Schatz says. Their new 4,600-square-foot Atherton home was built in 1960 by Marcus Stedman, an architect whose style is rustic and creates an intimate relationship between indoor and outdoor.

"In remodeling we wanted to keep the original intent," she says, noting that they kept the footprint of the house the same.

The couple hired two architects. Keith Anding of San Francisco, with whom they had worked on a previous project, provided the aesthetic for the "big picture." Steve Borlik of Palo Alto did all the drafting and was indispensable for his knowledge of local building regulations, she says.

The remodel was done in three phases. After the initial five-month, mostly cosmetic phase, which included the entry, living room, dining room, kitchen, master bedroom, two offices and bathrooms, the couple moved in.

In Phase two, on the other side of the house, they transformed the garage into a family room with two adjacent bedrooms, remodeled a bedroom and added a new bathroom upstairs. Phase three was the construction of a detached three-car garage.

"We really wanted to keep things simple," she says. "We used three colors throughout. All the walls are the same color white, all the trim is a mushroom color and all the cabinetry is putty gray."

They also replaced elaborate hardware -- door knobs, pulls -- with simple, oil-rubbed bronze pieces. "Every door knob is the same," she says.

The floors in all the public spaces, save the kitchen, are white Travertine tile and elsewhere, wide-plank white oak. Walls are either adobe brick (Schatz says she loves the "messy" rustic quality) or wood plank.

"We raised the living room ceiling to 14 feet at the peak," she says. They took their inspiration from the existing vaulted and beamed wooden ceiling in the upstairs bedroom. A triangular window sits right under the inverted "V" formed by the vault.

"We kept the original windows, but added new sills," she says. The windows, on three sides of the room, are divided into metal-framed squares. Here, as throughout the home, doors open to the stone patio that embraces the home as well as the view of the East Bay.

To the right, as you enter through a dramatic wooden-plank front door with bronze diamond-shaped embellishments, is a corridor that leads to his and her offices and the hexagonal-shaped master bedroom. The master suite, with vaulted ceiling and walls of windows, is at the end of the corridor, but you can see from the entry that its door matches the front door.

In the his/her master bathrooms they retained the original marble-topped vanity and what Schatz describes as "frilly" elements, such as the original cabinetry, including a vintage bureau that supports his sink. (All of the other bathrooms sport subway tiles and CaesarStone counters.) They customized the closets and removed the doors. The bathrooms share a marble shower and free-standing bath tub.

"The kitchen is in the same configuration," Schatz says. In addition to the cosmetic changes, they added stainless-steel shelves, put in CaesarStone counters and added a double oven.

"The family room was a major renovation," she says. They raised the ceiling of this former garage, added skylights, and built a fireplace and shelves, all in keeping with the materials used throughout the home. This space now also houses two bedrooms with a shared bathroom.

"You can't go beyond the perimeter, but you can build a bay window," Schatz explains. Thus, the bedrooms both have "punched out" areas that allow more breathing room.

The stairway, girded by a polished-bronze railing, was moved from the family room to the laundry area; it leads to the upstairs bedroom. The space under the stairway augments the narrow laundry room. In the new upstairs bathroom they used stone left over from the patio for flooring.

Schatz says that the only new piece of furniture she bought was a table for the entryway.

"I repurposed my old kitchen table as a desk for my study and our old entertainment unit as a filing cabinet."

"I would say that we right-sized rather than downsized," she says.

Goal of project:

To update midcentury home, staying true to the original

Unexpected issues:

Due to porous earth the garage excavation was deeper than anticipated

Year house built:


Size of project:

About 4,600-sq-ft house on 1-acre lot

Time to complete:

1 year


Architects: Steve Borlik, Young and Borlik, Palo Alto, 650-688-1950; Keith Anding, Studio Keith Anding Architecture + Design, San Francisco, 415-864-4483

Contractor: Todd Turley, Todd Turley Construction, Campbell


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