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Los Altos family prioritizes comfort over size


Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Looking to build a contemporary home for their growing family, Aditi and Pooneet Goel razed a dilapidated cottage on their Los Altos property and replaced it with a California Mission-style home with a tile roof and large, arched windows, above, that allow natural light to stream into living spaces, below.

For many hardworking young couples living in San Francisco, there comes a time when it’s nice to return to your roots.

Aditi and Pooneet Goel left their condominium in the City and moved to a rental house in Los Altos when Aditi was pregnant with their second child. Aditi was born and raised in Cupertino and Pooneet’s parents live in Atherton. She went to UC Berkeley for her undergraduate degree, then received her master's degree at Harvard University. Pooneet graduated from Menlo School and Stanford University.

"We wanted to check out the market," Aditi said. "We looked for a year. We were not looking to build a house. Why on earth would you take that on?"

Well, take it on they did when they couldn’t find a house to suit their lifestyle. They didn’t want one with only two bedrooms upstairs ("Do you just put the children up there and forget them?"), and they wanted a "family" room in the true sense of the word.

In August 2012, the couple purchased a dilapidated, unlivable cottage in Los Altos, razed it and built "a superior house with a lot of love and thought," said realtor Nick French of the Sereno Group. "The neighbors love the end result."

It was a pretty big deal when the Goels broke ground June 1, 2013.

"The house was gone in a day," said Pooneet, who has built solar farms. "If we could have saved it, we would have."

Teamwork

The couple assembled a team: architect Chris Spaulding of Berkeley, Mehus Construction of Los Gatos and landscape architect Paul Daniels of Cupertino. And teamwork - plus daily on-site visits and vigilance by Pooneet - resulted in their being able to move in over the Fourth of July weekend.

The two-story California Mission-style home, with its stucco facade and tile roof, belies its interior - and size. It blends into the neighborhood, yet it is 3,583 square feet, including the basement, five bedrooms, a media room, a gym, an office and a wine cellar.

"But the house feels small," said Aditi, director for education policy at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. "It’s easy to forget about the basement."

Pooneet, vice president of business development at startup PowWow Inc., calls the interior design "transitional" - moving from classical Santa Barbara-style architecture outdoors to comfortable California indoors.

"The house is a contemporary California layout rendered with Mediterranean form and materials," Spaulding said. "The desire of many people these days is for a large great room that flows out to the yard and a covered outdoor room."

Spaulding designed the house to meet the Goels’ needs, which he considered "pretty universal - the main family bedrooms upstairs, a ground-level guest suite and a basement for entertainment, utilities and storage."

The great room

The Goel family already is spending 90 percent of their time in the great room.

"Our bedrooms are on the smaller side, because this is where we like to be and have daily interaction," Pooneet said.

Aditi loves to cook and bake; consequently, the state-of-the-art kitchen has a six-burner Wolf gas range with a double oven. The Shitake Caesarstone countertops are in sharp contrast to the white wood cabinets, some of which have glass fronts. The large furniturelike island features a reverse color scheme - white top (Frosty Carrina Caesarstone), brown base.

A ceiling arch delineates the kitchen from the great room, which has a dramatic beamed cathedral ceiling with three circular wrought-iron chandeliers. They’re among the many distinctive lighting fixtures the Goels proudly acknowledge came from Pottery Barn.

"We were our own interior designers," Pooneet said. "We visited a couple of lighting stores, but the prices were outrageous."

At the far end of the great room, LaCantina folding doors open to the patio, creating one large indoor/outdoor area. The porcelain patio tiles perfectly match the engineered white-oak flooring in the great room - the same flooring used throughout.

Nearly floor-to-ceiling arched windows, providing abundant natural light, distinguish an intimate living room and formal dining room on either side of the entry hall.

A skylight above the stairwell serves the same purpose. Pooneet installed LED lights in the skylight so that "it’s almost the same at night as it is in daylight."

Green features

Mehus project manager Fernando Dacosta cited a host of eco-friendly features:

• Solar panels on the roof

• Radiant heating in the basement with zone control

• Stormwater drainage system

• Low-flow fixtures and energy-efficient appliances

• Automated sprinkler systems

• All LED built-in lighting

• VOC-compliant paint and stains

From his smartphone, Pooneet can control the zone heating and cooling in the house in addition to the lighting system. The phone - and its functions - is perhaps his favorite gadget.

Aditi’s favorite gadget is her old-fashioned kitchen timer.

"It keeps time," she said. "That’s all it does." ◆


Home and Garden: Echo Drive Home - Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

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