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Designer Linda Sullivan Transforms a Los Altos Hills Home

Theresa Gonzalez | July 29, 2019 | Story

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The custom dining table from Blatt Billiards converts to a pool and pingpong table for play.

When your home’s best feature is a serene outdoor space with sweeping views of the verdant foothills of Los Altos Hills, it becomes a starting point when undergoing an extensive remodel. “It was a major gut job,” says Linda Sullivan of Menlo Park design firm Sullivan Design Studio. “The scenery and how much the family lives and plays outside was really important to them.”

The homeowner, a former commercial architect turned stay-at-home mom, spent six years pondering what to do with the space before realizing she needed some help. “Doing your own home is just a little overwhelming,” she says, asking that her name be withheld for privacy. “It’s so much easier to choose things for other people!”

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Robert Abbey’s Lucy Grande pendant hangs dramatically above the entry stairs.

Sullivan turned out to be the perfect woman for the job. “This might be her brilliance or she just listened really well, but she would always present three options and there were always two that I loved,” says the homeowner, whose time spent studying Japanese garden design in Kyoto became the guiding principle for the outdoor—and, ultimately, indoor—design. “I was inspired by the way they find beauty in the way things wear over time.”

Sullivan stayed true to the inspiration by bringing the lightness of the area’s canyon terrain in while keeping the indoors refined and timeless with beautiful materials. White oak cabinetry, window frames and a staircase streamlined the look, and artisanal tiles like an ocean blue travertine mosaic from Artistic Tile in the kitchen and a classic penny mosaic from Ann Sacks in the upper bath added a warm, enduring quality. “I love wood and natural materials that have depth and lightness to them,” says the homeowner. ““I also didn’t want to go too trendy. I wanted to make sure I still loved this in 10 years.”

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A Perla Venato quartzite counterop combines durability with elegance.

With two boys ages 9 and 13 running about, practicality and playfulness were top of mind. Sullivan designed storage throughout the 4,500-square-foot home—so much so that the homeowner says some storage is “shockingly empty”—and custom-made a dining table that converts to a pool and pingpong table—a must-have for the family of four.

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A penny tile mosaic serves as a backdrop to a custom-stained vanity.

“They didn’t want anything too fancy,” says Sullivan. “We went with an understated elegance.” To round out all of the wood, Sullivan and team chose lighting in complementary materials. Blown-glass Kichler Everly pendants feel airy above the Perla Venato quartzite countertop (another nod to practicality). A Shade of Light’s Angled Abstract chandelier in aged black nickel feels light yet edgy above a custom walnut table paired with Carl Hansen chairs in the breakfast nook. Over the staircase a sculptural metal Lucy Grande pendant by Robert Abbey keeps the eye engaged just enough.

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A poolside view of the Los Altos foothills yields tranquility.

But the real star here is the natural light that flows from outdoors to indoors through the main spaces that open up to the backyard, making the home flexible for entertaining. “We move from having groups of large parties to having intimate gatherings so easily,” says the homeowner. “I wanted the house to feel comfortable so it’s not like a museum [where] you feel like you can’t really plop down. People come over and they’re like, ‘I can hang out here all day!’ That’s what we wanted.”

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A honey-colored stone fireplace echoes the canyon hues outside.

When not entertaining, the family enjoys the peacefulness and relaxation that the home radiates. The homeowner’s travels to Singapore and Thailand and the luxury spas there set the tone for the home’s desired outcome. “It’s just really serene. It feels like a vacation,” she says. “Linda and her team were able to make it not feel like a cookie-cutter home. Our whole family feels at home here. It feels like us.”

Originally published in the July/August issue of Silicon Valley

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Photography by: Photos By: Vivian Johnson