modern ranch - a smooth multi-phased remodel


February 2019 Newsletter

sometimes, it takes a while to realize what we really want...

The homeowners of this spacious ranch in the Willow Glen neighborhood of San Jose came to building Lab with a modest plan and a very modest budget. They wished to open up the common areas, add a fourth bedroom, and improved the connection to the backyard. What was envisioned as a straightforward renovation to be completed in one summer ended up as a multi-phased whole-house remodel spanning four years as the client's vision evolved and the project scope expanded.

too big can be easy to fail

As building Lab's designer/project manager Hideaki Kawato (Hide) recalls, "I was super excited to land this job because I grew up in a similar house nearby." Like many sprawling properties in this suburban neighborhood, this house was large in terms of square footage, but the spaces felt underused and empty as they were disconnected from one another with living, dining, and family rooms scattered all over the place, and the all important kitchen was relegated to a small room right by the front entry. This kind of design seemed too inarticulate and wasteful to his Japanese sensibility. During the discovery stage, both the designers (principal Stephen Shoup and Hide) and the clients (a professional couple with two young boys and a dog) came to realize a long term dream home was desired and a carefully planned renovation in three phases would be needed in order to work with the budget and family schedules.

phase 1 - the core

The first phase completely opens and reconfigures the common areas. instead of a long corridor across the center of the house, a line of custom cabinets now defines and connects the new kitchen, dining, and living areas. In this newly created 'Great Room', spaces and activities naturally flow and overlap, while the perpendicular axes form a U shape that encircles a covered deck. Floor-to-ceiling glass sliders open up the dining area to the deck for seamless indoor/outdoor living. Wide plank flooring of white oak adds presence and visual interest against the brilliant white walls and dark cabinetry.

phase 2

It is a small project which consists of flipping the original hallway bath and laundry. This results in a better located and functional laundry/mud room nearest to the garage entry, and a new bath closer to other activities in the house.

phase 3

Last but not least is the private wing of the house. The newly created en-suite master bath has jade-like tiles by Heath Ceramics and walnut cabinetry. The skylight infuses the room with natural light. An existing hallway is converted to a spacious dressing area with wall-to-wall custom closets. An existing bath is also renovated and now serves as the boys' bathroom.

how does it look from the street?

In this neighborhood of traditional houses mostly painted a light beige, this residence stands out with its dark paint and modern fencing. Initially, the clients wished to remove the unappealing textured stucco. For budgetary reason, they went with concealing the textures with a dark matte paint suggested by the designers. The horizontal wood slats and the luxurious drought tolerant plantings soften the appearance. There are plans to create a vegetable garden in the near future. At the end, we have achieved our goal of creating a distinctive residence without being inharmonious with its surroundings. 

skylights are the exclamation marks!

Top three photos show the narrow rectangular skylight both continues the spine of cabinets and denotes the break where one accesses the common areas from the front entry. In the master bath, the skylight also plays an important role in creating a zen like ambience.

1. View of living area with custom built fireplace.
2. View from the front entry.
3. Line of cabinets with breaks for access. 
4. From dining area with a peak of the kitchen to the right.
5. Master bath bathed in natural light.
6. View from the street.
7. Walnut cabinetry in master bath.
All photos by Scott Hargis 

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a bold art piece sets the tone for a master bath

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oakland, ca 94608
t: 510.420.1133

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