Meet our Dream Remodel 

Long on potential but short on everything else, a 90-year-old bungalow begged for a makeover. Rotated, gutted, and redone, this small home is now living large

2010 Sunset Dream Remodel

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Design ideas to steal from a small-home makeover

The goal of our Sunset Dream Remodel was to make the most out of 1,400 square feet on a not-much-bigger lot.

This 90-year-old Spanish-style bungalow in Los Gatos, California, was in need of a makeover and a new location, as it faced a very busy boulevard. (Jump to the before shot.)

Since we couldn’t move the three-bedroom house to another site, we did the next best thing: reoriented it toward a side street. Then we gutted it, adding a modest 117 square feet, and remodeled it stylishly.

Next, see all the ways we created space.

Trick the eye with architecture

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Trick the eye with architecture

By varying ceiling heights and removing walls, we made the public spaces look bigger and, in the process, created a view stretching from the front door to the backyard.

Living room

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Luxury of less: Living room

Define small rooms with furniture that makes a statement.

Neither the leather sofa nor the Wegner shell chair, both from Room & Board, “matches” the custom coffee table, but they create an eclectic vignette in front of the retiled fireplace. Window sheers by Sunbrella.


Dining area

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Dining area

The hard-edged but casual reclaimed-wood benches and table from Harvest Furniture play off the comfortably upholstered (yet formal) end chairs.

Dark walnut flooring from Armstrong creates yet another layer of contrast.


Photo by Thomas J. Story

Mix and (sometimes) match: Kitchen

Paint and tile helped take our remodel from glum to glam.

A bow to the subtle hues of the home’s 1920s origins, the pale green upper cabinets and backsplash tile set off the cool Hawaiian blue granite counters, the warm tones of the mahogany cabinets, and Dylan Gold’s reclaimed-wood island.

Master Bath

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Master bath

An iridescent blend of glass, marble, and metal evokes old Hollywood style.

The vanity wall is clad with azure blue glass tile—touched with flecks of white—for a watery feel. Fixtures and sinks by Kohler.

Home Office

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Home office

Shades of green are used to calm down warmer colors throughout the home. Here, the light sage on the walls does the trick (those maps are actually printed onto the cork of the bulletin boards).

Hide the clutter

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Ideas to steal: Hide the clutter

Cables, cords, and audio­visual components are hidden in the bench seats flanking the fireplace. Drawers offer easy storage for blankets, books, and games.

Think linings

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Think linings

We papered the inside of this large drum pendant lamp­shade with repositionable wallpaper, adding a touch of baroque over the dining table.

Use the outdoors

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Use the outdoors

We built a daybed from Azek decking and topped it with Sunbrella cushions to create a (weather-resistant) spot to unwind.


Photo by Thomas J. Story

Make your mark

Using clip art we found online, we came up with the graphic for this custom headboard, then printed it on maple plywood. Side tables by Serena & Lily.

2010 Remodel: The House

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Diary of our dream remodel project

Our fixer-upper

Problem: Noise and lack of privacy—the corner-lot house faces a busy street—plus cramped rooms.

Solution: Rotate the building 90º so it looks onto a quieter street; open up the interior and make use of outside space.

Remodel construction

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Remodel week 1

Construction starts

The house is jacked up ​5 feet and slowly turned; meanwhile, a crew scrambles to build the foundation before impending rains.

A late-winter storm lingers. We build foundation in a pelting downpour.

Bright idea: Build buffer time into construction for rain (and other!) delays.

Old kitchen

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Remodel week 2

Gutting the interior

The crew took one day to gut the interior. Attempts to salvage and reuse wood are thwarted by years of termite damage.

This was our last look at the old kitchen. The location of the window and sink is all that will survive.


Photo by Thomas J. Story

Remodel week 3

First design tasks

The tiles choices will be the first step in creating an overall interior look.

While editing down tile options, we discover an inte­rior style motif: Moroccan Craftsman. Like it!

Designer Josheph Hittinger

Photo Thomas J. Story

Remodel week 4

Backsplash brainstorm

With the tiles selected, old-school colored pen­cils help interior designer Joseph Hittinger play with colors and scale for the kitchen backsplash.

Original Fireplace

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Remodel week 5

Living room updates

The original fireplace profile will remain the same, but we’ll update with a new stone-and-tile façade. Then the house is wired for audio, video, lighting, and heating controls—all operable from an iPad.

The framing is finished, and suddenly the house feels huge and full of light.

Arched windows

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Remodel weeks 6

Updating the arched windows 

These windows add to the home’s historical charm, ​so we’ll repane the glass and restore the original trim. ​We choose a dark chocolate walnut for the hardwood floors to match the deep brown trim color at the windows.

Exterior Paint Palette

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Remodel week 7

The paint palette emerges

The finish line is in sight! Cabinets have arrived, the house exterior is painted in light and warm shades, and tile work ​has begun.

Bright idea: Add casters and cushions to a side table to create flexible seating.


Deck and outdoor details

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Remodel week 8

Deck and outdoor details

As completion nears, the front, back, and side yards demand our attention. Builder Mark De Mattei and designer Hittinger brainstorm on the dining deck–to-be.

Debates about the yellow paint on the exterior—not everyone loves it—prompt us to go with a cool palette of blues, teals, and greens for the front garden.

Floors and furniture

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Remodel week 9

Finish floors, add furniture

Simple, elegant furniture will make the most of the space we have. Every piece should look great and have purpose.

The finished floors remain under wraps until all interior painting is done. But with the furniture in place, it looks like we’ve made a not-so-big house work. Phew.

Remodeled Kitchen

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Remodel week 10

A house reborn

The new space has the same bones, but more function and style than in its former life. We’re all ready to move right in!

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