Quiet renaissance in OMV

Home tour offers peek at recent remodels and landscapes

Old Mountain View has been undergoing a quiet, subtle evolution since many of the homes were built in the late 1940s. Slowly the little bungalows in the heart of town are becoming modernized and updated.

Five homes that were recently remodeled will be on tour during the first Mountain View Educational Foundation (MVEF) home tour on Sept. 17, a fundraiser that funnels money into K-8 programs in art, music, science and after-school sports in the Mountain View Whisman School District.

Included on the tour is the home of Lisa Parramore and her husband Svein Olslund, who bought their Old Mountain View bungalow in 2000. In two stages, in 2003 and 2009, they've expanded their 1,200-square-foot home to about 2,300 square feet, maximizing their use of space on a 5,500-square-foot lot.

First they added a master suite, with a deep Japanese soaking tub, with slate surround and flooring and shoji screen doors.

Parramore, a landscape designer and co-author of "Living With Japanese Gardens," lived in Japan 20 years ago, just after college. Originally from North Carolina, she was excited by Japan's architecture -- and ultimately incorporated many Japanese details while updating her California home.

In the new great room -- created by removing most of a wall between the kitchen and living room -- the furniture is positioned to face outdoors. Shoji screens cover NanaWall accordion doors leading to the garden.

"Having a garden viewable from inside is a very Japanese approach to residential design," she said. "I think it makes the most of a small lot."

Out the door one steps onto an engawa, a narrow wooden walkway that connects the indoors and outdoors, Parramore explained. Asian garden features include bamboo fencing, a metal rain chain (made of bells) instead of a downspout, a stone fountain with a bamboo spout and Japanese roof tiles used for edging.

The plantings are a mixture of Japanese-inspired and native Californians, with a prominently placed, aesthetically pruned Japanese black pine. A table and chairs sits in front of the outdoor fireplace, encouraging dining al fresco. Stepping stones lead one down the side to the vegetable garden, compost bin and rain-barrel collector.

The exterior stucco is a gray-green -- Parramore was aiming for the color of green tea -- with natural wood trim.

Inside, an amado door, which slides on a rail, takes the place of a pocket door that would not fit under a staircase. That design would typically be used as outdoor shutters in Japan, Parramore said.

Another common Japanese concept is to stagger elements, whether they are shelves in the kitchen, windows in the living room or stepping stones outside. Even the Douglas fir trusses in the vaulted great-room ceiling are slightly asymmetrical. The faceted glass in the front door mimics a Japanese split curtain. A split curtain replaces a storage-cabinet door in a hallway.

Up the stairway, one can see a dramatic Japanese wedding kimono hanging on the wall, just above a window that lets light flow through to the hallway beyond.

The four other recently remodeled homes on the tour include:

** a bungalow adapted for indoor/outdoor modern living, with a NanaWall accordion door leading to the deck, corner picture windows and a European-style eco-friendly kitchen system;

** a cottage with an angled entry, with a big family kitchen, master-bedroom suite and wheelchair access via an attractive ramp;

** a ranch-style house with modern touches, including a Japanese soaking tub, NanaWall leading to a small Japanese garden, a new master wing and a private, second-story office;

** a small bungalow expanded to a four-bedroom home with a contemporary feel in color and Douglas fir accents.

In addition to viewing the homes themselves, visitors will be able to meet architects and landscape designers, noted Andrea Gray, executive director of the Mountain View Educational Foundation, and owner of one of the tour homes.

The foundation has been ongoing since 1984, and does fundraising events throughout the year, including Scoop Night at Baskin Robbins, as well as raising funds through parents and corporate sponsorships. Its biggest event is the Spring Gala and Auction, planned for March 3, 2012.

Last year the foundation raised close to $500,000 and the goal this year is to raise the same, Gray said.

No paper tickets will be issued for the event. Tickets may be purchased online in advance for $25, or for $30 at the door on the day of the event, at 360 Velarde St., Mountain View, between 1 and 3:15 p.m.

Carol Blitzer, associate editor of the Palo Alto Weekly, the Voice's sister newspaper, can be emailed at


Like this comment
Posted by reader
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 14, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Careful identifying the owners of these houses. The folks in Old Mountain View do not like it when things change. Revealing the owners who have had the audacity to upgrade their homes and bring change into the neighborhood is likely to subject them to protests and harassment. The MiRNA folks must be chomping at the bit for another project . . . .

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