Town Crier Correspondent
Stephen and Louise Pahl's remodel took full advantage of great views
The homes constructed in Los Altos Hills during the 1960s and 1970s were built on slopes that provide outstanding views, but many of them didn't have the amenities today's homeowners desire.
Stephen and Louise Pahl purchased such a home, a 30-year-old structure with a view to San Francisco and the East Bay. So they remodeled it.
"I did not want a house you could tell what year it was built," Stephen said. "But when we statrted to remodel, it became evident it was poorly maintained and problems existed," he added. "So we expanded the footprint of the original house leaving the majority of the rooms in their original position. We took advantage of the original views."
For 14 months and 18 days, Louise and Stephen lived in a mobile home on the property.
"We kidded people that we were trailer trash, but it's the only way to go," Stephen said. "I walked the property every night to see what was accomplished."
Peter Duxbury, the architect, and Stephen's father, Donald Pahl, built the present house.
"Building a house is nothing more than a combination of materials that are not used to working together," Duxbury said. "You use wood, stone, glass and some man-made materials that will expand and contract and eventually provide cracks in the walls when the house settles."
The Pahls are very pleased with the construction. Louise is proud of the result. "It has Old World charm, with the interior finishing and touches of the antique molding, light fixtures and the choice of colors," she said. "They make it feel homey."
Los Altos interior designer Barbara Mack continues to work with Louise. Mack took the Pahls' existing furniture and personal items and created a warm and inviting atmosphere.
"We enjoy entertaining and providng a place for political events," Stephen said. "When Tom Campbell ran for Congress he said it was disappointing to realize the people who came to see the candidate really wanted to see the interior of the house."
Stephen is managing partner of the San Francisco/San Jose law firm Pahl and Gosselin. His areas of concentration include employment matters, real property transactions and litigation. He is also attorney for numerous banks in Santa Clara County and is active in business and local governments representing clients.
A 1977 graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, he attended the Santa Clara University School of Law, where he was editor of the Law Review. Stephen previously served as chairman of the Lawyer Representative Coordinating Committee.
"What I enjoy most these days is representing local Los Altos businesses and residents' requests at various city council meetings," Stephen said. "That goes along with living in the community."
Louise worked with the Community Services Agency as an associate director for 6 1/2 years. She was a member of the Grand Jury 2000 and volunteers for numerous events, including the KTEH Channel 54 Health Conference held earlier this year.
The Pahls' property is at the headwaters of Matadera Creek and has an abundance of oak trees. Deer and other wildlife are constantly found on the property. Presently a doe and her two Bambi's live on the property.
Louise has problems with gophers and squirrels, but that goes with large properties in Los Altos Hills. She spent 2 1/2 months in Paris this spring, learning French with the Foothill College off-campus program, and the gophers got ahead of her.
Stephen occupies his leisure time as a private pilot in the air and a scuba diving instructor for PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) in the water, and tools around on back streets in a 1999 Indian Chief motorcycle. He is legal advisor to the Indian Motorcycle Company in Gilroy.
He spent four years on the Los Altos Hills Planning Commission and was chairman in 1993-94.
"There are no straight streets in Los Altos Hills, and that makes it special for me," Stephen said. "The peace and quiet make it one of the most desired places to live on the Peninsula."