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A balanced life: Big basement takes family living to new heights

Photos Megan V. WInslow/Town Crier
Los Altos residents Sangeeth and Sindhu Peruri designed their 2,000-square-foot basement to be a multiuse space – a gym by day and a family gathering spot by night.

By day, it’s a gym, a yoga and martial arts studio, a Ninja Warrior training ground and a playroom. By night, it’s a place to curl up as a family to watch Warriors games on the big-screen TV, play poker or host parties for friends.

Welcome to the Peruri family’s Los Altos basement.

It’s a far cry from the cellar of yesteryear – the lonely home of the washing machine and furnace, and perhaps a workbench and some storage space.

With areas for entertaining, television, exercise, fort-building, rock-climbing and much more, the 2,000-square-foot space is a well-used part of family life for the Peruris. Sangeeth Peruri, president of the Los Altos School District Board of Trustees and CEO of VoterCircle, said there’s something for everyone.

“The kids are down there often,” he said. “They create a lot of stuff – my daughter and her friends create all kinds of swings and obstacles and contraptions. Every day I go down there, there’s something different. It’s like a playground, but they construct and deconstruct it all the time.”

Peruri and his wife, Sindhu, are parents to son Raghav, 10, and daughter Isha, 6, both of whom attend Covington School.

Designing a multifunctional space

The Peruris built the house in 2010. Sindhu was the architect as well as the interior designer. With her own design business, Peruri Design Co., she specializes in residential design, with interiors and related construction. She also designs furniture.

Sindhu explained their ideas for the basement.

“We wanted as big a basement as possible. … Right now it’s all kind of a play area, other than the gym,” she said. “But it’s actually planned – eventually, when the kids grow up – to be a movie theater. So it’s all wired for that, and we might do step seating later.”

A billiards area is in the room’s future, as is a guest room and bath, in place but not yet furnished.

The basement also boasts a bar area, with a limestone countertop and natural Douglas fir base. The gym area features a striking gray and white floor.

“It’s such a big open space – there are no walls separating the designated spaces – and we wanted to keep it that way,” Sindhu said, adding that the flooring is key to visual separation. “We have this nice rubber flooring in here and laid it out in this pattern to make it interesting. It’s great for gyms. … It’s resilient. The carpeted area is the softer play area for the kids. So it’s some sort of a distinction as to what’s happening in each area.”

An ever-changing environment

The Peruris carefully researched the gym and sports equipment they ultimately selected. And came up with some of their own.

“A lot of it we designed,” Peruri said, enlisting the help of a structural engineer who had done their stairwells and fencing. “I called him in and said, ‘Hey, it would be cool if we could get monkey bars.’ … And once that happened, the kids keep on having requests. … I think for Christmas, the kids wanted ropes – we bought them ropes for Christmas. They keep on making contraptions.”

Sindhu added, “They hang upside down, they can swing from one thing to another. They’ve been doing it for so long, they have (great) upper-body strength.”

Even the basement patio has climbing ropes, suggested by a party guest. Their structural engineer was able to make it happen.

“We put in those steel beams, and these ropes come down,” Peruri said. “We see stuff and we try it.”

At one point, a family member was taking pole-dancing classes, “so we put one of these (poles) in – it’s good for stretching,” he added.

Their yoga teacher mentioned a yoga wall, with options for straps in various locations – great for hanging upside down. While training at a Ninja Warrior gym in Concord, Peruri discovered other possibilities.

“Anytime I saw something there that looked interesting that could be feasible, we’d bring it in,” he said.

A heavy bag is on a track to enable it to move to the middle of the floor and then be stowed safely away. There are a variety of obstacles, weights, a splits machine, things for hanging and climbing and kicking, and a slackline for balancing.

Peruri noted that the basement is always changing and things come and go – such as swings on the monkey bars, a basketball hoop and a gymnastics area. His daughter, adept at knot-tying, makes frequent additions to the monkey bars.

“We’re always adding, improvising,” he said of the basement.

Like the Peruris themselves, it’s a space in motion.

Ninja Warriors and black belts

Sangeeth Peruri competed on season 6 of the NBC TV show “American Ninja Warrior” in 2014, and has organized tournaments for his children’s schools – adults vs. kids.

“It’s the only show that our family as a whole would watch,” he said. “It seemed hard but seemed like something that was doable. So I started training. We made a video and sent it in, and they picked me. It was really just that I thought it would be a fun thing to do.”

Last year, Peruri got back into taekwondo, this time with his son.

“He got his first-degree black belt and I got my third degree, so we did that for a whole year,” he said. “I’m always doing something, but it kind of goes in phases.”

Practicing a variety of martial arts, Peruri’s enthusiasm has spread to his family. Their five-year plan includes everyone testing for black belts in taekwondo.

“Sindhu and our daughter for their first degree, my son for his second or third degree, and I’ll try for my fourth degree,” he said.

Sindhu is a newcomer to taekwondo, taking up the sport a few months ago.

“I just started doing it to spend time with my daughter, because I saw how much time Sangeeth spent with our son,” she said. “(Raghav) is too advanced for me – he’s already a black belt … but I can hopefully catch up to my daughter.”

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