Like many ranch houses, the home of Bill Welch and Maren Christensen in Portola Valley, California, had a long central hall that blocked light, views, and easy access between major rooms.
"We wanted to be able to communicate throughout the main living spaces instead of going through doors all the time," says Christensen.
Remove unnecessary walls
Architect Mark Pearcy replaced part of the hallway with a series of columns and beams, which allows each area to borrow space from the others.
"Although the kitchen, dining, and living rooms remain in the same locations, they now flow into one another for a 'great room' feel," Pearcy explains.
Create new light sources
Many ranch houses "were function- and cost-driven, with shortcomings like inadequate natural light," Pearcy says.
To brighten the interior, new skylights were added through the center of the house, above the hallway.
Add a multitasking partition
A freestanding cabinet now provides open and closed storage while serving as the principal divider between the open living-dining and kitchen areas.
Design: Mark Pearcy Architecture, Burlingame, CA (650/348-1509)
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