Higher, lighter and brighter

Expanding up gave more space without losing yard

by Maytal Mark

HGDESIGN WINTER 20141 1-COVERLike many couples with three young kids, Roland Dreier and Bina Bhattacharyya expected space in their house to become an issue.

"It felt like (the kids) would want more privacy," Bhattacharyya says. Anticipating the issue, they decided to expand up instead of out.

Although the couple originally considered keeping the style of their one-story '50s-style ranch home in the interest of cost, they were finally wooed by the cottage style of a two-story bungalow with one main gabled roof and two side wings.

"We tried to get the extra space we wanted but keep the yard," Bhattacharyya says.

The second story quickly became the go-to space for their three children. "The kids love the upstairs," Bhattacharyya says. "That's kind of their abode."

The two kids' bedrooms upstairs were expanded and designed to be mirror images across a hallway. Along with the bedrooms and one shared bathroom, the upstairs also has a "bonus" playroom as well as plenty of nooks and crannies the kids use to hide and read.

Given all the options, the kids' favorite play area is still hands down the attic space. "Our contractor saw that there was this attic space and he thought the kids would love it, so he made a passage," Bhattacharyya explains. The kid-sized tunnel stretches from a small entrance near the top of the stairway to the playroom at the other end where a play door closes it off.

"Sometimes they bring all the sleeping bags and just lie in there," Bhattacharyya says, pointing to the attic space filled with toys and strewn Lego pieces.

The children's domain upstairs matches the well-lit air of the first floor with plenty of broad, low windows looking out over the neighborhood. The windows recommended by their contractor light up the house, but avoid harsh and direct sunlight.

"There aren't a lot of other two-story houses (on the street)," Bhattacharyya says. "Because we're kind of the only ones up here we get a lot of light."

"One thing I liked about the house before was the whole house was always bright," she says. However, Dreier adds that repositioned windows were still a great renovation. "In the master bedroom, it's really pretty much exactly the same except the windows are moved, and it really improves the light," Dreier says.

Moving the kids' bedrooms upstairs also created space for a designated laundry room and mudroom downstairs. "I really wanted to have a mudroom," Bhattacharyya says, gesturing to the side entrance accessorized with a small storage bench, mounted coat hooks and overhead cubbies. "It's one of my favorite things because all the mess can fit in there." The mudroom space used to serve as the cramped laundry room, but Bhattacharyya says she now has plenty of space in her new laundry room to fit and organize multiple baskets.

Expanding up rather than out meant that much of the first-story floorplan stayed the same, except some minor width expansion.

"The kitchen is more functional," Dreier says. "By adding that width, we now have an island and we modernized all our appliances, got a bigger oven, a bigger pantry." Other modernizations include the installation of a full-house fan. "We really haven't had to use the air conditioning," Dreier says.

The freed space downstairs holds plenty of room for other extra storage spaces. What used to be a child's bedroom downstairs now serves as a guest room and storage space for art supplies. The couple also has a closet's-worth of storage space under the stairs and a pantry near the kitchen.

Although the interior decorating and re-landscaping processes have yet to be completed, both Bhattacharyya and Dreier are excited by the possibilities the extra space has created. "It's really nice and light and open," Dreier says.


Architect: Tom Carrubba, square three design, Palo Alto, 650-326-3860

Contractor: Ian Dickey, Groundswell Construction, Half Moon Bay, 650-712-9524

Goal of project:

Add second floor to increase space without expanding into yard; modernize appliances and home air circulation

Unanticipated issues:

Entirely rebuilding first-floor walls despite keeping the same floor plan

Year house built:


Time to complete:

18 months

Size of home, lot:

Went from 1,326-sq-ft to 2,427-sq-ft home on 6,662-sq-ft lot


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