Instead of Moving, This Family Made Smart Changes to Their Bay Area Townhouse So They Didn’t Outgrow It
Now it suits their needs and has upgraded their everyday lives.
Homes can really see us through different life stages, and there’s something so special about being lucky enough to live in a home long enough that it grows with you. A family of four in a Bay Area townhouse was approaching the next chapter of their lives—Matt (who works for a tech company and DJs on the side) and Holly (an estate attorney) had two boys who were reaching elementary school age and wanted to update their home to fit their new needs. “They wanted a space that allowed them to take a deep breath from the hustle and bustle of life,” explains Ashley Macuga of Collected Interiors who oversaw the project. “A place to unwind and entertain with those they care the most about. A spot where their family could live comfortably—but which also could get straightened up and cleaned easily. An environment that reflected their interests and allowed their boys to be their beautiful unique selves.”
The home was nestled in the hills of Silicon Valley and sandwiched between two other homes, so Ashley and team were tasked with maximizing natural light from all the angles and contending with the fact that there was no room for any additions. It was built in the ‘70s, poorly remodeled in the ‘90s, minimally touched after that (new paint and new carpet mostly), and had lots of carpet and linoleum. It definitely needed a big update.
But agreeing on a design wasn’t the easiest since Matt and Holly had differing opinions on what they wanted—Matt likes minimalist simplicity, while Holly loves bright colors, texture, and plants. Ashley created inspiration boards for the couple to help align everyone on the creative aesthetics. “From plumbing to furniture selections, we leverage the boards as a checkpoint to ensure the design remains cohesive and on-vision,” she says. “For some clients, aligning on inspiration boards is easy, but for others this acts as an opportunity for couples to voice their individual design aspirations… and then we help bridge the gap.”
Once they decided on the design it was time to get to work—one of the first big changes was saying goodbye to the lime, olive, and mustard walls that made the space feel dark and replacing them with white paint. To add to the clean and bright paint palette, Ashley and team replaced the carpet with European white oak floors that also gave some warmth and texture to the home. Modern lighting and custom cabinetry were also installed throughout.
In the entry, the dark front door was replaced and a floating credenza and mirror were added. “There is nothing particularly special about the door itself, but it’s how we used it in space planning that made all of the difference,” Ashley says. “Before, the door swung the other direction (towards the stairs). It was also made of dark character-grade wood and had a Spanish revival vibe that didn’t feel anything like the home. As a result, it never let natural light in and made it impossible to use the space in front of the stairs. By doing a glass door instead, we added so much light to the space… plus, allowed an opportunity to build the chicest of townhouse entry drop zones.”
The living room had an awkward off-centered fireplace that made furniture planning difficult. The hearth also became a spot to store Legos. They removed it, which opened up the room for entertaining and lounging.
To add more space to the kitchen without actually adding more square footage, Ashley and team relocated the furnace to the attic and washer and dryer to the garage. The window by the kitchen sink was widened to add more light. They made the range the focal point of the room, and added so much more storage through custom cabinetry and floating shelves. And while the kitchen wasn’t wide enough for an island, the peninsula makes up for it, allowing the family to have breakfast there and providing more counter space.
Ashley mixed woods in the dining room to create visual interest and add texture and color—like the white oak dining table from Ethnicraft and the Croft House walnut dining room chairs. Her favorite part of the room, though, is the custom floating console. “I love the addition of the natural rattan, which gives the space some much needed texture,” she explains. “But most importantly, the console was sized to hold all of our client’s DJ equipment—and when his wife sent me a picture of him doing his music thang while entertaining guests—my heart burst in pride. Our work is about so much more than pretty pillows, it’s about creating spaces where families and passions thrive.”
Lastly, the boys’ room was designed to nurture creativity and imagination. The inspiration was Where the Wild Things Are, and a mural from Rebel Walls wallpaper helped set the scene. “Because the kids are junior inventors, we knew that they needed desk space for their work and for their creations and collectibles. This meant prioritizing a desk and bookcase versus a dresser,” Ashley explains. “Our solution was to completely reimagine their closet—and to use built-ins to maximize the functionality. By adding drawers for clothes, we leveraged the bottom part of the closet (which typically is used by kids as a makeshift hamper)—and eliminated the need for a dresser.”
Matt and Holly are so pleased with the renovation—the space and their daily lives were totally transformed for the better. “The renovation changed the entire feeling, energy, and use of our space to reflect our current and future vision for our family home,” they said. “Our children were both reaching elementary school age and it was a transition time for everyone, so the new design helped us feel like we upgraded our starter home to a more modern version that fit our new needs for older kids and adults without actually moving. The peace of the design has brought joy to our adult mornings and the beauty and functionality has made it so our kids really love using and sharing their spaces with friends. We love, love, love our home!”