Circular-shaped Los Altos Hills remodel provides 180-degree Silicon Valley views

Couple retains vintage home's round shape, but reconfigures layout

The owners of this circular-shaped house in Los Altos Hills remodeled the 1960s-era home to take full advantage of the property's 180-degree view of Silicon Valley. Photo by Adam Rouse.

Real Estate

Circular-shaped Los Altos Hills remodel provides 180-degree Silicon Valley views

Couple retains vintage home's round shape, but reconfigures layout

The owners of this circular-shaped house in Los Altos Hills remodeled the 1960s-era home to take full advantage of the property's 180-degree view of Silicon Valley. Photo by Adam Rouse.

The owners of this circular-shaped house in Los Altos Hills remodeled the 1960s-era home to take full advantage of the property's 180-degree view of Silicon Valley. Photo by Adam Rouse.

When Meera Agrawal and her husband, Gautam, looked into tearing down the quirky, circular-shaped Los Altos Hills home they'd lived in since 2013, they discovered that the town would only allow them to build a 1,300-square-foot replacement.

Given that their round house with the fabulous views was around 5,200 square feet — built in the 1960s when the lot was part of unincorporated Santa Clara County and not subject to the rules of the town — they quickly shifted gears and decided to do a major renovation, retaining much of its round structural slab and some walls.

The new kitchen is located in the heart of the home. Photo by Adam Rouse.

"We had to be strategic about the interior versus exterior space," Agrawal said. "The footprint is close to the original."

The new house takes full advantage of the property's 180-degree view of Silicon Valley from the public spaces — the exact opposite of the old floor plan. The back of the house, with bedrooms and bathrooms, looks out onto the Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve. And the kitchen is plunk in the center, where an inner courtyard used to be.

Architect Steven Stept embraced the idea of a circular house, knowing that it would present definite challenges.

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

"All the lines of this house come off a center point," he said, noting that none of the walls in the bedrooms are 90 degrees, "but it doesn't feel awkward." The lines of the floor, lights — even outdoor decking — all work with the radial circular concept, he said. Narrow strips were used for the exterior siding, to accommodate the curve, he added.

A lot of learning happened on the job for both architect and contractor.

How do you create things like door and window jambs for a circular structure, Stept said.

"We may have an idea for design, but we needed to figure out the execution. ... The contractor totally embraced the concept. He built a huge protractor so he could figure out how to do radial lines. ... He knew to 1/8 of an inch," Stept explained.

In the great room, the windows are straight, but segmented, with divider pieces allowing the room to curve. Behind the walnut fireplace surround is a large-screen TV. Photo by Adam Rouse.

Today, the family of four enjoys views from a great room, with no walls separating the dining area and round kitchen. There's access to an outside deck from nearly every room in the house.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

"We love modern architecture, but we were concerned about it looking too cold," said Agrawal, who works for a commercial architecture firm in Mountain View. She was instrumental in choosing finishes, from the soothing blue fabric of the great-room sofa to the walnut-faced fireplace surround that hides the big-screen TV.

The exterior of the house is sided with Japanese-style charred wood that will eventually turn into a black-silver shade as it ages. Photo by Adam Rouse.

The unusual kitchen shape posed an intriguing problem: How do you fit square appliances into rounded cabinets? They did manage to accommodate a Wolf cooktop, two Faber hoods (that look like stainless steel tubes), Wolf double ovens, a dishwasher and two Sub-Zero refrigerators with freezer drawers.

Even the island is rounded, shaped like the letter C.

"I love to bake," Agrawal said. She hopes to teach classes, so she had outlets built into the outside of the island, as well as a prep sink.

A curved peninsula at the side has room for four leather, counter-height chairs.

And there's more room to cook in the outside barbecue area.

Throughout the house, from kitchen to bathrooms, similar cabinet and countertop finishes were used. The white quartz counter in the kitchen shows more veining, while in the bathrooms, it's solid. Faucet finishes are a matte black. Cabinets are walnut; even the trim around the mirrors sports a narrow walnut trim.

The primary bedroom is located where the original living room once was, and the couple can watch the sun set outside the window. The accompanying primary bathroom boasts a steam shower, an Aquatica free-standing tub, trough sink and a wall of Porcelanosa tile that resembles aged metal.

Today the house has four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms on the main level, as well as an office, recreation space for the kids, a bedroom, a bath and the garage downstairs.

An odd space near the bedrooms left room for a more-than-adequate laundry room, adorned with Fireclay tiles.

Throughout the home the floors are made of poured concrete, with radiant heat.

Outside, a grassy area was created where the children could play, enhanced by drought-tolerant plants and drip irrigation.

The exterior of the house is sided with Japanese-style charred wood — shou sugi ban — that will eventually turn a black-silver over time, Agrawal added.

A powder-coated, black wrought-iron railing edges the wrap-around deck, with a drinks shelf near the public spaces.

Adding a couple of bee hives became a hobby during the pandemic, Agrawal said, as well as choosing a variety of fruit trees — fig, avocado, lemon, lime — with more to come.

Now that they've settled into their new home, would the Agrawals have done anything different?

"Maybe make my closet bigger," Agrawal said. "We were super involved, so we made sure we got what we wanted."

"The transformation went way beyond anyone's expectations," Stept added.

Craving a new voice in Peninsula dining?

Sign up for the Peninsula Foodist newsletter.

Sign up now

Email freelance writer Carol Blitzer at [email protected]

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Circular-shaped Los Altos Hills remodel provides 180-degree Silicon Valley views

Couple retains vintage home's round shape, but reconfigures layout

by Carol Blitzer / Contributor

Uploaded: Fri, May 20, 2022, 5:07 pm

When Meera Agrawal and her husband, Gautam, looked into tearing down the quirky, circular-shaped Los Altos Hills home they'd lived in since 2013, they discovered that the town would only allow them to build a 1,300-square-foot replacement.

Given that their round house with the fabulous views was around 5,200 square feet — built in the 1960s when the lot was part of unincorporated Santa Clara County and not subject to the rules of the town — they quickly shifted gears and decided to do a major renovation, retaining much of its round structural slab and some walls.

"We had to be strategic about the interior versus exterior space," Agrawal said. "The footprint is close to the original."

The new house takes full advantage of the property's 180-degree view of Silicon Valley from the public spaces — the exact opposite of the old floor plan. The back of the house, with bedrooms and bathrooms, looks out onto the Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve. And the kitchen is plunk in the center, where an inner courtyard used to be.

Architect Steven Stept embraced the idea of a circular house, knowing that it would present definite challenges.

"All the lines of this house come off a center point," he said, noting that none of the walls in the bedrooms are 90 degrees, "but it doesn't feel awkward." The lines of the floor, lights — even outdoor decking — all work with the radial circular concept, he said. Narrow strips were used for the exterior siding, to accommodate the curve, he added.

A lot of learning happened on the job for both architect and contractor.

How do you create things like door and window jambs for a circular structure, Stept said.

"We may have an idea for design, but we needed to figure out the execution. ... The contractor totally embraced the concept. He built a huge protractor so he could figure out how to do radial lines. ... He knew to 1/8 of an inch," Stept explained.

Today, the family of four enjoys views from a great room, with no walls separating the dining area and round kitchen. There's access to an outside deck from nearly every room in the house.

"We love modern architecture, but we were concerned about it looking too cold," said Agrawal, who works for a commercial architecture firm in Mountain View. She was instrumental in choosing finishes, from the soothing blue fabric of the great-room sofa to the walnut-faced fireplace surround that hides the big-screen TV.

The unusual kitchen shape posed an intriguing problem: How do you fit square appliances into rounded cabinets? They did manage to accommodate a Wolf cooktop, two Faber hoods (that look like stainless steel tubes), Wolf double ovens, a dishwasher and two Sub-Zero refrigerators with freezer drawers.

Even the island is rounded, shaped like the letter C.

"I love to bake," Agrawal said. She hopes to teach classes, so she had outlets built into the outside of the island, as well as a prep sink.

A curved peninsula at the side has room for four leather, counter-height chairs.

And there's more room to cook in the outside barbecue area.

Throughout the house, from kitchen to bathrooms, similar cabinet and countertop finishes were used. The white quartz counter in the kitchen shows more veining, while in the bathrooms, it's solid. Faucet finishes are a matte black. Cabinets are walnut; even the trim around the mirrors sports a narrow walnut trim.

The primary bedroom is located where the original living room once was, and the couple can watch the sun set outside the window. The accompanying primary bathroom boasts a steam shower, an Aquatica free-standing tub, trough sink and a wall of Porcelanosa tile that resembles aged metal.

Today the house has four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms on the main level, as well as an office, recreation space for the kids, a bedroom, a bath and the garage downstairs.

An odd space near the bedrooms left room for a more-than-adequate laundry room, adorned with Fireclay tiles.

Throughout the home the floors are made of poured concrete, with radiant heat.

Outside, a grassy area was created where the children could play, enhanced by drought-tolerant plants and drip irrigation.

The exterior of the house is sided with Japanese-style charred wood — shou sugi ban — that will eventually turn a black-silver over time, Agrawal added.

A powder-coated, black wrought-iron railing edges the wrap-around deck, with a drinks shelf near the public spaces.

Adding a couple of bee hives became a hobby during the pandemic, Agrawal said, as well as choosing a variety of fruit trees — fig, avocado, lemon, lime — with more to come.

Now that they've settled into their new home, would the Agrawals have done anything different?

"Maybe make my closet bigger," Agrawal said. "We were super involved, so we made sure we got what we wanted."

"The transformation went way beyond anyone's expectations," Stept added.

Email freelance writer Carol Blitzer at [email protected]

Comments

William Hitchens
Registered user
Mountain View
on May 20, 2022 at 6:26 pm
William Hitchens, Mountain View
Registered user
on May 20, 2022 at 6:26 pm

Is this an article, or just a really cheap commercial for real estate developers and one particular architect? Just what does a quirky home in LAH have to do with Palo Alto? And, exactly how did they "legally" finagle their way to evade the legally mandated 1300 sq foot limitation for their new mega-house? Come on. Give us some real detailed info about how they grossly evaded local zoning "laws". Bet they had a heck of a good team of sleazy real estate lawyers.


Anonymous
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 1, 2022 at 7:06 pm
Anonymous, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Jun 1, 2022 at 7:06 pm

Huh. I had opposite reaction to the above poster.
Thank you to the author and family for sharing the story of the remodel of this fascinating house. I’d like to know more! It really appeals to me.
I was wondering why only a 1300 sq ft (new) structure was quoted as being allowed in LAH - that is much smaller than most LAH homes -


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.