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A Ranch Revival
Sophia Markoulakis | Photo: R. Brad Knipstein | September 6, 2017
A California rambler is updated with soulful and sustainable design.
In a quiet Leave It to Beaver-esque Hillsborough street, following a two-year renovation, the virtues of a California ranch house were retained and amplified. With the help of interior architect and designer Lisa Staprans, its residents—an active family of five—got everything they wanted in a sanctuary. The designer, known for discovering the soul of a home, did just that and more by integrating clean elements into a contemporary design, allowing the family to stay connected indoors and out.
Portola Valley-based Staprans, who comes across more like a psychoanalyst than a designer, talks about the importance of creating a healthy and happy living space, noting that: “It’s my duty to protect their vision.” The vision for this dated rancher? “We needed more space and wanted a continuation from indoors to out,” says the homeowner. “We realigned the entry so that you can see all the way from the front door through the house to the backyard.” Designed by landscape architect Michael Callan, the backyard is a haven for this athletic family. The existing pool has been joined by a new spa and a fire pit, while the former pool house is now a gym. With steel retaining walls constructed by the landscape contractor, the terraced garden can be viewed from several vantage points, including the transom windows in the bathrooms and bedrooms.
Staprans describes the dwelling as “quietly elegant, and [it] talks to the outside.” She handled all of the interior architecture—working with the basic footprint—and served as the project liaison between vendors. “It was a joy for me to take the lead on how the whole house was going to flow together,” she says. “These old ranch houses—if you can transform them the right way, you can really create a nice inside-outside feel.” One way she accomplished that was by installing thin cedar ceiling panels that run from the front porch through the home, with the same lines continuing to the rear patio’s overhang. Colby windows and glass sliders in rooms that face the patio also bring the outdoors in, and interior glass barn doors, using custom steel rails, keep common rooms visually connected while still providing privacy when needed. “They’re great when a family member is playing the piano in the living room,” Staprans observes.
The ceilings in the kitchen and family room were vaulted, which spatially aided the placement of an oversize kitchen island that seats 10. Staprans selected stools from Design Within Reach and utilized leathered Taj Mahal quartzite on the island and counters. “There’s a constant reminder of integrity of materials,” she says of the intentional layering that mixes the natural flow of wood grains in the wide-board white oak flooring and walnut cabinetry with artisan-blown glass fixtures from Berkeley’s Metro Lighting. “Everything reinforces everything else.” (Gilroy’s West Valley Woodworking is Staprans’ go-to for wood and craft.)
The color memory of the vibrant kangaroo paw plants out front carry you inside, where your eye is immediately drawn to the bold art in the dining room, visible through other rooms thanks to glass doors. In the family room, ikat and Moorish-patterned upholstered pillows from the designer’s trips to Paris, as well as antique kilim fabric on matching Cisco Home steel-leg ottomans, continue the scheme with shades of blue, red and orange. A cyprus wood coffee table from The Gardener further reinforces the use of natural materials.
Staprans also helped the homeowners achieve their goal of creating a healthy living space through product vetting—from “where the wood is sourced to the ingredient list on the paint,” the homeowner says. “It takes time and willingness to challenge vendors to make sure they aren’t saying things are clean just for marketing purposes.” In addition to sourcing salvaged wood for the custom dining table and purchasing Adirondack chairs made of reclaimed wood from Emily Joubert, Staprans selected Coyuchi organic linens for the bedding and chose area rugs from Atlas Rugs and Tony Kitz Gallery that only use vegetable-based dyes. “There’s not one thing in this house that doesn’t have meaning or purpose,” the homeowner says. “Every single piece of this house I see my family enjoying. Lisa saw the whole picture.”
Originally published in the September/October issue of Silicon Valley