San Diego Home/Garden Magazine (November 2008) – “Going Up”


Kensington, CA


"Going Up"


November 2008


Larny J. Mack
A Second Story Melds Well in Historic Kensington

Nestled among the historic residences of Kensington, Christie Golemb’s home is one of the many modest 1920ish Spanish-style houses with tiled roofs, arched windows and stucco exteriors found in the neighborhood.

“There was nothing wrong with the existing house, other than it wasn’t big enough,” says Golemb, who shares the home with her two boys, ages 16 and 11.

Adding a second level to
serve as a master bedroom suite and home office was the solution for acquiring more space, but a top priority for Golemb was to maintain the integrity of the home and neighborhood.

“It was a scary decision because I didn’t want to ruin the curb appeal or the character of the neighborhood with a second story just plopped onto the house,” says Golemb. “I went to Ione (Ione Stiegler, a local architect well known for her seamless historical renovations) and asked her if she could do a second story without making it look like an eyesore.”

Stiegler reassured Golemb that a second story could be put on the older home and be sensitive to the original structure as well as subservient to it so that it wouldn’t look like an addition.

“It’s what I call the 30-mile-an-hour drive-by test,” says Stiegler. “You drive by at 30 miles per hour and think, ‘Wow, nice Spanish Colonial Revival.’ But when you get out of the car and you’re walking the dog, you think, ‘Oh, great house. There’s the addition. It goes so nicely.’”

So that the second level wouldn’t intrude on the original structure, Stiegler set it back behind the existing dining and living rooms. The living room, the first space you see upon entry, sets the tone for the home with a cozy fireplace and a tall arched window that echoes the arches found throughout the home.

“There was an archway between the living room and former dining room,” says Stiegler, “and what we didwas mimic the archway on the far side of the dining room as the transition back to the new staircase and family room, creating repetition and progression in the sequence of going through the space.”

The family room and staircase were created where the original master bedroom had been. The new family room, with its French doors opening to the back patio, creates an indoor/outdoor flow. Prior to the remodel, access to the backyard was forced through a small door in one of the two back bedrooms.

Interior designer Kristen Victor created the outdoor kitchen area with light entertaining in mind. – in fact, Golemb says she now barbecues outside “every third night, year-round.” It’s a cozy place where one not only can enjoy al fresco dining, but also snuggle down with a good book amid greenery and colorful bougainvillea.

Victor’s custom designs are prominent throughout the house and define many of the rooms. Her dining-room table and chairs have Spanish tailing on the legs, her stair-railing ironwork is more like artwork, as are the eye-catching wrought-iron chandelier in the stairwell turret and vanity in the master bath.

“Christie wanted the bathroom to be feminine and romantic, but not too feminine,” says Victor. “We utilized historic Spanish tiles here and made a large shower area and bath with a full sink that has a drop-down makeup area.”

The adjoining master bedroom continues the romantic feel in a sheer kissed-with-gold fabric used for curtains, the duvet and on a bench seat. A deep-red accent wall behind the bed enlivens the room. Steps away is the new home office. The stairwell is part of the office, creating one large space that feels very light.

“Instead of the way you come up to a second-floor area and are confronted with a door to the right and a door to the left, we opened up that space to the office in one big room with natural light flooding in,” says Stiegler.

With Stiegler concentrating on the structure and Victor working on the interiors, the result is a home that celebrates its heritage and embraces the heart of Kensington.