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Remodeling Magazine cover 2007

New Outlook: A little house grows up to live large
Written by Christine Hughes • Styled by Sunday Hendrickson • Photographed by Mark Lohman

For Cindi and Richard Sanders, one of the joys of their 1909 California bungalow is the rediscovery of the very American tradition of the front porch. "We are out there every night," says Richard, "It’s a routine. We see our neighbors and greet passers-by we’ve never met. And of course, our golden retriever, Kona, is always there to greet them, too." Creating a more inviting veranda was just one of the ways the Sanders unearthed the potential of their beach-town bungalow. "It was a lovely little house with boxy rooms that were functional but not fun," said Richard. "It had no flow to it." So walls had to come down and rooms needed to grow.
With the help of interior designer Elaine Koch, of Davis Design in Alamo, California, the couple set out to make their new residence not only the home of their dreams, but one that would address their informal lifestyle. They wanted all the modern amenities, a casual ambience and flexible space to accommodate informal gatherings with family and friends—all the while preserving as much of the century-old architectural detail as possible.

Working with Koch, they reassigned ill-used space and incorporated all they wanted into a new plan. By completely removing several interior walls and adding 500 square feet, the Sanders transformed what Richard called “mouse holes” into rooms that live large, even if they’re not huge. Take, for example, the new state-of-the-art kitchen. It’s connected by a peninsula to the family room (formerly the dining room) and the living room beyond with nary a wall in sight. This open area shares the natural light of French doors and refurbished windows and showcases the central fireplace and Arts and Crafts stairway. A gathering of 30 or more can now fit comfortably in a space that once couldn’t accommodate a half dozen. "We can expand the room we are in just by moving a couple of hassocks around," Richard says. Taking walls down in the kitchen also made way for a built-in desk at one end that’s flooded with light. At the opposite end, the staircase is now visible from what is essentially a galley kitchen, expanding the space even more.

The creation of a master suite was guided by the Sanders’ desire to live on the bungalow’s ground floor. Though the upper level has three bedrooms and a refurbished bath, Cindi and Richard wanted to set aside those rooms for guests. The problem was the size of the bedroom on the ground floor. Some additional real estate would definitely be needed before it could serve as a comfortable master retreat. By expanding across the south and west walls, they gained that space and in the process created a new walk-in closet, master bath and larger bedroom. "We really didn’t add that much to it," says Richard, but with more than six feet of windows, deck access and a vaulted ceiling, the room seems bigger than its dimensions. The west wall bump out also provided new space for the laundry room, which was previously located outdoors.

As a woodworking hobbyist, Richard did a lot of the work himself but enlisted David Rothwell, of Kiwi Construction in Coronado, California, when it came to the trickier stuff—wiring, plumbing, structural issues. "You never know what you’re going to find when you start taking out walls," says Richard, adding "we knew we could change some of it, but not all of it." Nor did they really want to. Respectful of the elements of the Arts and Crafts era, Richard saved what was old—including painstakingly refurbishing 31 original windows—while bringing the house into the 21st century. "We wanted to open it up for today’s living."

WHAT WAS DONE
• Increased the home’s size by about 500 square feet
• Removed walls that enclosed the kitchen, visually opening up the space and connecting it to adjacent rooms
• Added new windows to flood the house with natural light
• Created a master bedroom with vaulted ceiling, walk-in closet and en suite bath
• Established a flow with a consistency of paint color, flooring and materials throughout
• Treated the front porch as an interior room, dressing it up with comfortable furniture


Davis Design  •  279 Cross Rd., Alamo CA 94507  •  925-362-9120 ph • 925-362-9128 fax