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Ladera couple creates a kitchen for today

With a soft plunk, their old pup lets his head fall against the red oak hardwood floor in the kitchen. He knows the familiar texture well; most of the home's floors are covered in it. While he drifts off into a doggie dream, his owners go about business as usual — or at least usual since October 2014.

Before that time, the couple fumbled around their 1965 kitchen in Ladera, which is a little enclave in Portola Valley. Very little had changed since the home was originally built in the '60s, except for the added dishwasher, the husband says. The couple decided the time was right for a remodel and reached out to David Terpening, a Menlo Park architect. With his help, the couple went from ducking between cabinets to communicate with house guests to enjoying an open expanse that leads right into the backyard.

"We didn't have a big vision, so we really relied on him," the husband says as he recalls the design process.

One feature the homeowners had nailed down before meeting with Terpening was the extension of the red oak hardwood floor from the living room to the kitchen. Next, the architect helped the homeowners find their style by asking them what they used the space for, what colors they liked and on and on at each turn, until he knew the kitchen design would be tailored specifically to them.

The discovery process moved beyond questions to trips to local granite, marble and wood suppliers and appliance stores. After these trips, the couple decided on colors found in nature, letting Juparana Earth Gold granite grace their countertops and Alder wood, shaker-style cabinets house their dinnerware. Inside the light-wood cabinets, the couple opted for custom options, including soft-close doors, sliders, and pots and pans drawers.

"I don't have to dig into the recesses of the cabinets to find anything now," the wife says. "Plus, they don't slam. That's great."

The handy cabinets are accented with round, satin stainless steel drawer and door pulls, which match well with the new array of appliances. Happily giving up countertop coils, the couple bought a Wolf rangetop with grill and griddle options, a French door refrigerator, a convection steam oven, a three-tray dishwasher, a framed oven and, to top it all off, an island hood. Each modern convenience was chosen for its longevity.

These additions seemed like quite the luxury when the kitchen was first completed, because the couple had to make do without a full kitchen from April until October while construction took place. They survived with just a microwave and fridge squeezed out onto their little balcony.

"Let's just say we had a lot of takeout," the husband says.

As contractors moved in and out of the kitchen for their various roles in the project, Terpening worked closely with each to ensure the sequence of events fell into place and conflicts were halted at the get-go.

During his more than 25 years in the business, he has learned how to help contractors and homeowners when a problem arises, such as the vent above the kitchen island. The duct work had to be manipulated a few times before the smoke rolled out through the roof's copper vent, which matches the gutters.

The couple also appreciated Terpening's knowledge when selecting an island prep sink. The wife had looked at a smaller, more shallow option, but he explained the cons of that option and introduced her to the pros of a deep, Julian prep sink.

"David caught that and steered us toward something we would be more happy with in the end," the wife says. "I absolutely love having two sinks, which I didn't know I would."

Beyond the kitchen, the couple ended up expanding their budget to around $330,000 so they could add on a deck in the back. Because area around the foundation had to be cleared during the kitchen remodel, the husband says it made sense to go ahead and extend the limited deck into a useable space for entertaining. Now, sliding glass doors open the bright, updated kitchen to the backyard, where the couple can dine in the sunshine or relax under their table-top umbrella.

Construction ended about a year ago, but the couple is still adjusting to the space, especially to figuring out how to use all the extra features they went so long without.

"We are still making friends with our kitchen," the husband says.



• Architect: David Terpening

• General contractor: Chris Storey, 831-338-4874

• Appliances: Atherton Appliance & Kitchen

• Cabinets: Long's Cabinet Shop

• Cabinet hardware: Doug Mockett & Company Inc.

• Countertop: Marble Unlimited

• Countertop/backsplash: Sticks-n-Stones


Related content:

Ready to remodel?


This article appeared in print in the Fall Home + Garden Design 2015 publication.

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