Before & After Town Home


Remodeled this town home to make it more attractive to the buying public on a budget and in two weeks! Producing a contemporary feel to what was dated and bland.  Original cream carpet with vanilla paint was replaced with engineered hand scraped hardwood floors, new fixtures and contrasting paint colors.


Dining room went from dark and dreary to light and modern.


Family Room/Kitchen area became inviting and entertaining.

2014-07-27 14.49.18PaccKit

With the addition of Granite counter tops, new appliances, glass tile back splash and a coat of paint this outdated kitchen turned into a Cook’s Delight!


Master Bedroom


Guest Bedroom


Third Bedroom/Office

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Buttermilk Pancakes & Berries!

Buttermilk pancakes with cinnamon summer berries - Brunch Recipes

Haven’t posted a recipe for a while…been swamped with wonderful clients….woke up to a foggy morning, a few hours until work and thought a nice breakfast with my family sounded heartwarming.  What’s better than buttermilk pancakes to soak up summer’s sweetness!

Berry Syrup:

1 lb of your favorite summer berries (I use blueberries, raspberries and blackberries)
1/2 c sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
1 t lemon zest
1T arrowroot
Juice of one orange

To make the summer-berry sauce, put the sugar, cinnamon and arrowroot in a saucepan. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the orange juice. Set over a low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture starts to thicken. Add the berries, turn up the heat, bring to a simmer and cook gently for 5 minutes or until the sauce is slightly thickened. Set aside.

Buttermilk Pancakes:

3 T unsalted butter melted
2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c granulated sugar
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t. kosher salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
Vegetable oil for the griddle

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk and eggs. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Whisk gently until the dry ingredients are almost incorporated; stop before the batter is evenly moistened. Add the cooled melted butter and mix just until the batter is evenly moistened (there will be lumps). Let the batter rest while you heat the griddle.

Heat a griddle or a large skillet over medium heat until drops of water briefly dance on the surface before evaporating. Lightly oil the griddle. Working in batches, pour 1/4 cup of the batter onto the griddle for each pancake, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Let cook undisturbed until bubbles rise to the surface and the edges look dry, 1 to 2 minutes. Check the underside of each pancake to make sure it’s nicely browned; then flip. Cook until the second side is nicely browned, about 1 minute more. Transfer the pancakes to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you repeat with the remaining batter.

Serve with the berry syrup, a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar and a little creme fraiche! They are great with a few slices of Applewood Smoked Bacon.

Photo courtesy of Tara Fisher.



Gone to the Dogs!

The latest trend in home design and construction… specific rooms!

Home builder Standard Pacific now offers a dog friendly option in their communities across the United States. From Florida to California, in their 27 new home developments buyers have a pet paradise option. (Photo: Anthony Gomez/Standard Pacific Homes/A.G. Photography)

The suite is a 170-square-foot pet paradise with a step-in wash station, handheld sprayer and leash lead; tile walls and floors; a designated drying area with a commercial sized pet dryer; a water station; automated feeders; a large bunk-style bed; cabinets for toys, treats and food; a stackable washer and dryer; a French door that opens to a puppy run; and a flat-screen television set. The pet option adds $35,000 to the list price. Approximately 70% of all buyers who look at Standard Pacific’s developments are pet owners.

Standard Pacific, based in Irvine, decided to offer pet suites after conducting livability studies with homeowners. Pets were a constant theme, said Jeffrey Lake, vice president and national director of architecture for Standard Pacific.

“Devotion to pets is second-to-none,” he added. “They are family.”

The American Pet Products Association reports that 68 percent of Americans own pets and contribute to an industry worth more than $55 billion annually.

Real estate officials say building homes designed to cater to pets is a new concept, but that remodels for pet owners have been available for some time. Those looking to sell their homes may find their pet additions might add to the attractiveness of their home. Providing useability much like a laundry room or mud room offers. Pet washrooms can offer multi-purpose facilities which buyers may find desirable. Who doesn’t want to have a place for dirt whether it comes in on a dog or a child!


Q2 Real Estate Report 2014-Silicon Valley


Spring is typically a brisk season for real estate, but second-quarter activity in our Silicon Valley region was even busier than usual. Tech-industry workers and foreign buyers catapulted our market activity resulting in high sales prices. Just a few years ago, homes in our immediate counties sold for $1.1 million to $1.7 million; today, those same homes command between $1.5 million and $2.5 million, and they go into escrow as soon as they hit the market. 

High-end homes continued to sell well, with many buyers paying all cash for properties priced at $10 million and higher. An estimated 25 percent of sales in the region were “off-market” – private transactions that never appeared on an MLS.

Off-MLS sales are controversial. While buyers and sellers can avoid the tumult of open houses and bidding wars, a prearranged price can mask a home’s real value. Buyers, for example, may pay well over a homes value just to avoid competition. On the other hand, sellers may settle for a price far below what a home is worth in an off-MLS transaction to avoid the multiple offer situation.

Looking Forward: The third quarter in Silicon Valley looks to be busy, although not as hectic as the second. Homes generally attracted fewer multiple offers in the second quarter than in the first, and we expect that trend to continue.

Defining Silicon Valley: Our real estate markets in the Silicon Valley region include the cities and towns of Atherton, Los Altos (excluding county area), Los Altos Hills, Menlo Park (excluding east of U.S. 101), Palo Alto, Portola Valley, and Woodside. Sales data in the charts below includes all single-family homes in these communities.



Mt. View Townhome ~ Listed $988,000


Updated home in The Crossings. Hardwood floors throughout this 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom ideally located home. High ceilings bring in the natural light to this multi-level living area. View of the Green belt from the Kitchen/Family Room. Granite counter-tops and new high end appliances featured in the cook’s delight of a kitchen. Designer touches throughout. Air conditioning. Los Altos School District. Community pool. 2 Car Garage. Walk to shops, restaurants and transportation.



Open this Saturday & Sunday. 7/26 & 7/27 from 1:30 – 4:30.

Rent vs Buy?

The economic events of the past few years have spurred more than a few Bay Area residents to become renters rather than homeowners. After all, they reason, that way they’re not tied to an asset that may become devalued. That however has not been the case in the base area as our average home values have increase anywhere from 25% – 40+% depending on the city.

And with the demand for homes being two to one the market is outstripped, renting seemingly offers more flexibility and immediate gratification.

Well, not so fast.

It turns out that would-be renters may have as many – or even more — challenges than prospective homeowners. Let’s take a look at the state of rental housing in the Bay Area.

1. Rents are sky-high – and climbing

According to a new study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, rents in much of the Bay Area are the least affordable in the country. A study, called Out of Reach 2012 -2013, recently found that the most-expensive counties in the United States – tied for first place, in fact — are San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo.

Over the past four years rental prices have climbed between 13% and 23% in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Should you buy instead of rent?

Would-be apartment dwellers who haven’t been able to find a reasonable rent in the Bay Area don’t have many options outside the standard ones: split the rent with a roommate or two, move further away from the priciest areas, look at alternatives such as renting a room instead of a full apartment, and so on.

There’s another option that may be in reach for some: buy instead of rent. In today’s market conditions, it may make financial sense to explore this option. In fact, the national media will tell you it’s almost always better to buy than rent these days – with the caveat that this doesn’t necessarily hold true for, you guessed it, San Francisco. (Or for the other top-priced market out there, Honolulu.)

But it’s still possible to make the math work in the Bay Area. With restrictions on mortgages easing, and interest rates at near-record lows, you can end up with a home that represents an investment and equity, rather than simply shelling out cash for a rental with nothing to show for it.

For example, suppose you’re looking  for a 3-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom option with a two-car garage.

• Option 1: Rent a 1,350-square-foot home for $3,300 a month.
• Option 2: Purchase a 1,600-square-foot home  (list price: $979,000) for $3,197.35 a month.*

*This assumes a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage at 2.75% with a 20% cash down payment and doesn’t include insurance or property taxes in the calculation.

So it makes sense to explore your purchasing options before you resign yourself to paying ever-increasing rents.

Woodside Home Eclectic Exterior by Oakland Architects & Building Designers Cathy Schwabe Architecture. Photo by David Wakely.

Remodeled Kitchens Reward Sellers

If you’re preparing your home for sale within the coming months, you’d do well to pump a healthy portion of improvement funds into the kitchen, a new survey finds.

According to the poll conducted by homebuilding firm PulteGroup, 29 percent of respondents said the kitchen was the most important room to consider when purchasing a property. Twenty-three percent said an eat-in area was the top kitchen feature, while 22 percent cited the importance of an island.

The survey notes that spice kitchens are becoming particularly en vogue with California buyers. In Silicon Valley high-end kitchen appliances and countertops greatly appeal to home shoppers.

PulteGroup’s study also discovered that more than one-third of buyers say coveted home amenities trump location and even schools.

Drought Resistant Planting Designs

California’s lengthening drought is focusing new attention on sustainable landscaping, as homeowners try to balance maintaining an attractive yard with the critical need to conserve water.

Sustainable landscaping is much more than simply choosing a desert motif and packing your yard with cacti and succulents. It includes lawn-care practices that are sensitive to the environment while delivering surprising health benefits.

Environmentally friendly landscapes can cool the area around homes and office buildings, reduce air pollution and dust, build healthy soil, reduce runoff and erosion, attract wildlife, and produce oxygen.

This contemporary landscape by Santa Monica landscape Architects & Designers features furcraea macdougalli in the back bed and festuca glauca in the foreground.  Both examples of drought resistant planting, aesthetically pleasing to the eye when contrasted with the gravel path and whitewashed exterior wall.


This dry garden is both colorful and drought resistant.  Designed by Bainbridge Island Landscape Architects and Landscape Designers Bliss Garden Design the planted beds surrounding the flagstone patio pool perimeter provides a variety of color, texture and plant types. Peppering the cool water feature with height variations for visual dimension.


The front entrance to the Californian Craftsman Exterior by Mount Hermon Architect & Building Designers Mayfield Architects features drought resistant plants with a field stone faux stream feature.  The mulching in the yard not only provides a textural depth to the design but serves as a moisture barrier for the plantings.
Mid-century exterior by Studio Jholey mixes drought resistant plantings with rock borders and wood slate lighting features.

Here are some examples of Bay Area drought resistant plants:

California Ribs or Gooseberries
Sea Lavendar
Kangaroo Paw
Blue Chalk Fingers
Fox Tall Agave
Mexican Marigold
California Salvia
Dynamic and colorful this exterior by Designer Jeffrey Gordon Smith highlights the color compliment that plantings can add to the total design of a property….and they are drought resistant!



Hog Island’s New Expansion ~

Hog Island Oyster Company…

located in the Ferry Building, has just completed a three month expansive remodel which allowed them to double the amount of seats they had before. They have completely reinvented the space while still highlighting the soul of the restaurant…the oyster bar!

The first thing you see, when walking into the new space designed by architect Cass Calder Smith is the oyster bar backlit by the San Francisco Bay.

Featured predominately on one side of the new space is a high end, contemporary cocktail bar. Scott Beattie and Michael Jack Pazdon of St Helena’s Goose & Gander are the barmen extraordinare.

Limited menu, until the grill is up and running, which features fan’s favorites…oysters, chowder, Cowgirl Creamery grilled cheese. New entrees will include crudo fish, smoked or cured fish, a new tomato based seafood stew …and yes even a steak!

Hours are 11:30 am – 9 pm. Until 10 pm on Friday and Saturdays. Weekends they open at 11 am.

Photos courtesy of Paul Dyer