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Home & Garden Design
Publication Date: Friday, September 19, 2008

No cookie-cutter kitchen
Baker enjoys updated function, historical integrity

by Carol Blitzer photos by Marjan Sadoughi

"I love to bake cookies and cookies take counter space," says the owner of a 1930s bungalow in Old Mountain View.

Tired of spreading her cookies to cool on her washer and dryer, Donna called in Susan Davis, of Spectrum Fine Homes in Mountain View, who had already helped her update a bathroom.

Donna was also upset with the perpetually grungy grout between the old tiles on the kitchen counter. "I don't like dirt. ... I'm certain there were things from 1942 that could jump out and get me," she says with a smile.

The lack of counter space was further impacted by a large, low window that faced the front of the house. Donna had placed her microwave on an old TV stand in front, both blocking the light from the window and making the back of the microwave visible from her front porch.

Spectrum's design eliminated the window, offering a space to house the new KitchenAid refrigerator. Today a drop-in Dacor stove boasts EuroStone Jaipur Anis honed-quartz counters on each side.

Donna was drawn to the honed quartz because it "looked old and flawed," she says, pointing to the texture and patterns in the stone.

"I wanted to change the type of counter but it was important to keep it architecturally historic, to maintain the look of 1938 but function like a 2008 kitchen," she says.

Contrasting with the stone is a backsplash of multi-colored horizontal slate bricks (Lotus Multi from Elon Tile and Stone), each brick a little different in color and texture.

When Donna came home one day, she found the tile-setter just beginning to lay out the pattern of the bricks when something caught her eye. She was delighted to have spotted a fossil in one of the bricks. When the tile-setter asked where she'd like it, she left the decision up to him -- and was truly pleased he placed it just above the stove where she can enjoy it daily.

Finding asbestos in the old flooring wasn't really a surprise, once Bob Davis removed a piece for analysis. A haz-mat team ultimately removed it all, before installing the new oak flooring that blends with the adjoining living/dining room.

Custom-made cabinets are painted white, with Restoration Hardware drawer pulls. By placing the microwave, as well as a one-drawer dishwasher, in lower cabinets, Donna gained even more counter space.

Donna points to details that make the kitchen special: Davis designed crown molding to transition between upper cabinets and the ceiling, as well as a rounded edge to the slate bricks and a mitered corner near the window.

It was Donna who found the slate bricks in a magazine, but Davis who suggested matching the grout to the honed quartz, rather than white. Again, Davis suggested using roller window shades, but Donna found a company that stenciled them -- and figured out how to hang them without hiding the molding that was milled to match the rest of the house.

Donna added the gingko-patterned ceramic soap dispenser that looks right at home near the gingko-stenciled shades.

All the lighting in the kitchen is fluorescent, from the recessed cam over the sink to the under-counter lights and the overhead school-room light fixture.

For the adjacent laundry room, the main change was to hide the water heater inside a vented cabinet. A new, sturdy back door was added, and the old hardware was re-used (after adding a new patina).

The only goal not met was to find a place to store recyclables, but Donna feels the main priorities were satisfied: "It looks authentic, it's easy to keep clean and there's plenty of cookie-counter space," she says.







Goal of project:
Update nearly original kitchen and laundry room

Hidden costs:
Had to remove asbestos in old linoleum

Year house built:

Size of home:
About 1,150 sq ft

Time to complete:
About six months

About $100,000



Design/Build: Susan & Bob Davis, (Gemma Clark, designer), Spectrum Fine Homes, 188 S. Whisman Road, Bldg. A, Mountain View; 650-960-2449; www.SpectrumFineHomes.com
Backsplash: Elon Tile and Stone, New York; www.elontile.com
Cabinets: Wood Connection, San Jose; 408-971-2710
Window shades: Ann Wallace, Los Angeles; www.annwallace.com

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