For more than 10 years, the walls of this Menlo Park home served as the backdrop for Domonique and Grant Matthews’ family life, witnessing both everyday moments and significant milestones. Although the couple appreciated the California dwelling, as their three children grew older, they found themselves bristling against the familiar walls. Some needed changes were practical, like an additional bathroom for the kids and extra office space. More fundamentally though, they craved a different kind of living—one filled with relaxed, natural textures and refreshing sunlight that fully embraced their native state.
The existing structure wasn’t conducive to this sensibility. A classic ranch style originally built in the 1950s, the house “had low ceilings and extended eaves, which didn’t allow quite as much light in,” notes Domonique. Several years ago, designer Caitlin Flemming had brought in elements of the casual California mood they were looking for with furnishings, art and a light renovation, but the Matthews always envisioned doing more extensive remodeling down the road.
The couple was finally able to fulfill their plan when architect Lauren Goldman, builder William Cox and landscape designer Jared Vermeil came on board. Goldman designed a new structure built on the original foundation (save for a small addition expanding the main bedroom suite), one that fully embraces the landscape and the natural light.
The reimagining of the residence “was such an interesting exercise,” says Goldman. “It’s basically the same footprint on the same property, but we completely transformed the whole layout and function of their home. It was truly a fresh start.”
Now light pours through larger windows and skylights, illuminating the new vaulted ceilings lined with white tongue-and-groove paneling. Sliding glass doors provide a seamless transition to the new pool courtyard and small casita, which Vermeil surrounded with olive trees, South African rush and evergreen grasses. These elements “pick up the slightest breeze, so it gives some movement to the landscape,” he says.
Grant in particular will never forget the day they replaced the old fireplace with the oversize glass doors leading onto the new backyard, creating a clear sight line from the front entrance to the pool and lush outdoor space. “It changed the feel of the house completely,” he recalls. “Seeing something we had thought about for years finally come to fruition was really special.”
To preserve the home’s new openness, the interior architecture “has a clean-lined Scandinavian element to it,” notes Goldman. “But the natural materials brought in that California casual feeling.” Lightly stained wood brings a visual warmth throughout—it’s found on the exterior’s cedar siding and inside on the floors, ceiling beams and window casements. In the kitchen, Flemming added texture with glamorous marble counters, rattan pendant lights, brass- inlay tile and a dramatic black soapstone sink.
Using every spare inch, the home became something like a Swiss army knife, adjustable and useful for the family’s different needs. Large areas can be closed off with pocket doors to provide privacy when needed, while cantilevered window seats make way for small retreats. “One of our favorite features in this new house is having all these little nooks for individual moments, but then also having gathering spaces,” says Grant.
The refreshed interiors were an inspiring backdrop for styling some of the same furniture and decor Flemming previously selected for the couple. Favoring simple lines, the elements emphasize tactile, lived-in finishes like linen upholstery, light wood with exposed grain, and wicker for outdoor seating. She then layered in the owners’ beloved vintage rugs. The overall relaxed feeling of these existing elements already suited the dwelling’s organic, nonchalant spirit, which the designer says was no accident. “I sourced pieces that would eventually work well in the home renovation the client dreamed of,” notes Flemming. “I love reimagining these pieces in the new spaces—it shows how timeless they are even years later.”
Among these dramatic changes, one crucial piece of the home still remains—a slice of their old driveway with handprints from each family member (including paw prints from their late dog, Jake). It’s a touching reminder that their new home is just a continuation of their life as a family. “I feel the new memories are almost blurring together with the old ones,” says Domonique. “Because even though we’ve only just moved back in, it feels like this is the house that it was always supposed to be.”