Real Estate

Remodel or move?

Solution: expand the living room, add a bedroom and bath

A dozen years have passed since Susan and Hugh Daniels found their perfect neighborhood in Mountain View. At the end of a cul-de-sac, their Cuesta Park house seemed a good spot to raise their baby.

Now with three children, plus month-long visits from grandparents from England, they were faced with the perennial question: remodel or move?

"We've been talking about it for awhile but didn't bite the bullet 'til now," Susan Daniels says. A neighbor's contractor referred them to architect Leopold Vandeneynde, who in turn introduced them to longtime friend and frequent collaborator, contractor Erik Neal.

Vandeneynde's first challenge was figuring out the rear and side setbacks on the pie-shaped-plus lot, which required conferring with the planning department. "That's why we stepped back the addition and hugged the side setback," he says, making sure it looked like it fit the house.

It was Vandeneynde who came up with the plan to remove a bearing wall, along with the fireplace and chimney, to make the long, skinny living room into a large square. By pushing out that one wall, they gained enough space to add a bedroom and a full bathroom as well.

A second challenge was "not violating the public/private spaces of the residence," Vandeneynde says, adding, "We handled that pretty well with a hallway extension that turns the corner."

He also managed to create a new bedroom for one daughter that is exactly the same size as the old bedroom for her sister. The new bedroom is adjacent to the new bathroom, making it an ideal space for the visiting grandparents.

"We wanted the biggest shower we could," Daniels says of the new bathroom, "and fit in everything else," including a custom-built wood vanity topped by granite. The shower boasts a frameless-glass door -- "It looks less cluttered," she adds -- and the large 12-inch by 24-inch floor tiles continue up the shower walls. Tiny square trim tiles are made of glass, marble and metal.

Because the bathroom doesn't face any exterior walls, light streams in through a sun tunnel.

Choosing plumbing fixtures and tile was a challenge for the couple, who were trying to keep a lid on the budget. But the fact that their architect and contractor were lifelong friends who often chatted informally about the project meant they could benefit from free advice on a number of things.

One thoughtful idea: They had solid wood blocks installed behind the Sheetrock so they can hang towel racks and hooks anywhere, without being limited to finding studs.

They also had the glass shower treated so there's little maintenance or streaking.

Extra insulation between the new bedroom and the expanded living room ensures that sound doesn't penetrate from the large-screen TV into the bedroom.

And, as a bonus, they added access to their crawl space from the inside of the closet -- just in case something needs fixing on this side of the house.

As part of the project, they removed old carpeting from the living room and hallway, replacing it with hardwood floors. The family room floor was refinished to match the much-lighter wood.

When repainting both new and old spaces, their painter was careful to retain the height markers of the three children along one door opening.

The family was able to live in the home throughout construction, which began with demolition last July. The actual work began in September, and the family was enjoying new space by January.


Architect: Leopold Vandeneynde, Leopold Design, Santa Clara, 650-224-6852

Building contractor: Erik Neal, Hand Craft Builders, Mountain View, 408-605-3736

Goal of project:

Enlarge living room, add bedroom and bathroom

Unanticipated issues:

Permit took longer than anticipated; needed engineer to OK load-bearing beam

Year house built:


Size of home, lot:

added close to 400 sq ft to 1,900-sq-ft home on 9,000-sq-ft lot; now 4 bedrooms, 3 baths

Time to complete:

about six months


under $150,000


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