“A completely destroyed house” is how Maor Greenberg described the Midtown Palo Alto home he and his wife, Rotem, bought in 2020. Between the termite damage, lousy construction and a poor design, he knew he wanted to start from scratch and design the right home for his growing family.
Greenberg, who owns VRchitects and interior design firm Greenberg Design Gallery, as well as Greenberg Construction, worked with architect Dan Hruby while doing his own interior design and construction.
Greenberg’s father is a contractor and his mother a designer, and he’s been working in construction since he was 18, long before earning his degree as a structural engineer.
“I believe that a house should be made for you,” he said, stressing not how a house looks, but how well it functions. His strong belief is that architecture, design and construction need to be coordinated from the beginning, starting with basic house design and coordinating interior design long before construction begins.
An indoor-outdoor experience
Greenberg wanted a totally indoor-outdoor experience for his family home. Sitting in the backyard, one can look through the bifold glass doors and see the front yard. Even the fireplace in the living room is see-through: Those sitting in the living room can view the backyard through the fireplace and those enjoying the outdoor seating area can see into the living room -- even when the fire is on.
Light was another key element for Greenberg, who designed the home with natural light in mind. The bedrooms, for example, have lighting that can be adjusted from a white-blue hue to yellow, depending on the mood required.
One needs to “take into consideration your environment, your neighbors, and fit their design with your design,” he said, noting that he especially liked mature palm trees that were growing on neighboring properties. Alas, he said, one neighbor took one of the trees down, and the other is considering it. To compensate, he added a mature tree in his front yard that offers some shade.
A 'Laundry Jet' and modern conveniences
His wife had a few requests: She wanted to be able to see her young children from virtually every room on the first floor; she wanted a round table; and she wanted a laundry room upstairs near the bedrooms.
The game room (which doubles as a guest room, with its Murphy bed) fits that bill. And the round table sits in the dining room nicely.
But Greenberg knew there just wasn’t room on the second floor to accommodate a full laundry room, so he added a Laundry Jet, a vacuum-powered chute with a motion-activated port built into the wall. The chute transports dirty clothes or towels down to the first floor within seconds and then shoots them back up to the second floor, when clean.
A kitchen full of hidden surprises
The kitchen was designed so more than one person could cook and everyone could eat comfortably – that meant no standard island. Instead, the island steps down to table height to easily accommodate both adults and children.
While sleekly modern, the kitchen is full of surprises. Many rollout drawers are custom fitted, so there’s a perfect spot to place tools, pots, spices, even dishes, as well as a drawer in the island just for onions and potatoes. That leaves the countertops, made of Sapien Stone porcelain, clear, with spices and oils neatly shelved near the six-burner Dacor range (with a steam oven and a “smart” exhaust fan). There’s a built-in appliance cabinet (with a toaster and other small appliances already plugged in), as well as a Gaggenau coffee maker and cup warming drawer. The microwave doubles as an extra oven.
And the 45-inch sink – actually, an entire prep area -- boasts accessories, including a wooden cutting board and sieved bowls.
Greenberg stressed the usability – and fun – in his home. All the floors on the ground level are concrete, coated with what he called “hospital-grade epoxy.”
All the bathrooms feature tankless Axent toilets and epoxy resin sinks. Showers have no thresholds, giving easy universal access.
Waterfall, sauna, other outdoor comforts
The outside was just as important, and thoughtfully arranged, as the inside. Sitting on a corner lot, Greenberg was able to build a low concrete fence set back 4 feet, with tall greenery providing privacy in front. Walking around the house, one finds a complete outdoor kitchen, firepit, sauna in a barrel, pingpong table that doubles as a dining table with chairs, comfortable seating area topped by a louvered trellis – and a trampoline, all visible from windows. And behind the seating area is a waterfall wall that extends 35 feet along the back of the property.
Freelance writer Carol Blitzer can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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