When Gagan and Jasmin Arneja bought a Bay Area hillside home designed in 1975, they knew some work was coming. But with large windows offering expansive views of San Francisco and an interior with signature redwood plywood panels, there was already much about the house they liked.
So after closing it in 2011 for about $1.5 million, they moved without changing a thing. “We think it takes at least three to four years to understand the quirks and pros and cons of a home,” said Ms Arneja, a photographer. “We didn’t want to tear it up or remodel it until we had a chance to get to know the house.”
“The house changes through the seasons,” added Mr. Arneja, a software engineer at Arista Networks, is ready. it in the summer – something they wouldn’t have understood without living there.
The couple, who are in their late forties, couldn’t help but notice the shortcomings. The three-storey house is nestled into a hillside, with the main entrance and primary living accommodation on top. But the bedrooms, one floor down, seemed sloppy, and the floor below wasn’t finished at all. The house also had inefficient single-glazed windows, and the original kitchen and bathrooms were in dire need of updating.
In 2016, the Arnejas were finally ready to make some changes, but they weren’t looking for a gut renovation. They wanted to keep the redwood panels they loved while expanding the house to make it more comfortable for family visits (Mr. Arneja’s parents sometimes stay for months if they come from India), improving energy efficiency, improving the fixtures and replace 70s appliances, and add a few stylistic touches to make it your own.
Finding the right architect for such a job was not easy. They hired one, but soon realized they had very different ideas about how to modernize the house. They switched to a different one, but also found his proposed design too heavy-handed.
“It’s like going through bad relationships,” said Ms. Arneja. “The house needed an architect who wasn’t so ego-driven, and who was mature and confident enough to take on the renovation of a house with a strong architectural identity and not feel like they had to put their stamp on it. to press .”
Fortunately, Monica Viarengo, a landscape designer who had consulted with the couple’s second architect, thought she knew just the right person for the job: her husband, Brett Terpeluk, the director of Studio Terpeluk. When the Arnejas met him, it felt like a perfect match.
“I think Brett’s sensibility is different from the Italian sensibility,” said Mr. Arneja. “It’s not about creating these blank, clean, modern lines; it’s really about, in totality, how everything feels warm.”
Mr. Terpeluk saw why the couple were so eager to keep. “When I walked into the house, the architecture just really resonated with me,” he said. “It has such a beautiful, almost mystical quality to it, in the way the space embraces you. It was the right approach to take a curatorial approach to maintain that, while the house was being upgraded.”
His plan called for the extension and finishing of the lower level, to make room for an office and media room with kitchenette overlooking a new garden designed by Mrs. Viarengo; updating the bedrooms and bathrooms on the second floor; and making surgical additions to the main living areas on the top floor.
Mr. Terpeluk worked all along with Beatrice Santiccioli, a color consultant, to coat new architectural elements in unexpected shades. The cabinets in the renovated kitchen are finished in mint green and soft pink lacquer, and a nearby console is coated in sunny yellow. The main bedroom has fitted wardrobes in aubergine tones and the adjoining bathroom has mosaic tiles in the same colour.
Each level has access to outdoor areas, including the garden, courtyard and balconies, mostly through floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors.
Under his feet, Mr. Terpeluk whitewashed Douglas fir floors with deep brown knots, reclaimed from old pier posts, where the house previously had dark stained oak. He then tied all three levels together with a sculptural folding steel staircase with a railing that resembled a shepherd’s staff. Descending the stairs is now “a kind of cinematic experience,” Mr. Terpeluk said, as it winds through the different colors of the different levels.
The Arnejas moved when construction began in the fall of 2017 and returned to their completed home in the summer of 2020, after spending approximately $500,000 on the renovation. It took nearly a decade of dreaming, designing, and building, but now that their 3,200-square-foot home is completed, they know their patience has paid off.
“We use every part of the house every day,” said Ms. Arneja, as they move between spaces to sleep, work, eat and relax. And if no one is staying with them, she added, the guest bedroom doubles as a workout room.
“The end result is a house that’s different from what we started with, but doesn’t destroy what was already there,” said Mr. Arneja. “It amplifies it.”
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