This Small Bungalow Makes the Most of Its Little Layout

This updated bungalow has no space to spare, but a consistent palette and luxury surfaces (in small amounts) make the most of every inch.

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This 1905 bungalow in Palo Alto, California didn't require much of an overhaul. When the homeowners found it in 2015, the house had been mostly modernized, and the 880-square-foot basement had been finished, nearly doubling the livable space. They hired a designer to give the house a layered neutral palette, space-conscious furniture, and eye-catching finishes.

In the front yard, a rot-resistant ipe wood fence adds a rustic accent to the facade. The homeowners, employed in the tech industry, were eager to add smart home features, such as a programmable lock system. The front door unlocks when they approach with their phones, and they can program access for friends and dog walkers. 

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Warm Grays

The designer chose a calming color scheme of shades of gray with warm brown and purple undertones. The 120-square-foot living room called for petite furnishings, like the sculptural, low-slung leather club chairs. A gray marble fireplace adds texture to solid walls.

Wall Color Collingwood (859), Benjamin Moore

Antique Chic

The designer snagged vintage metal lawn chairs from Big Daddy's Antiques in San Francisco and revived them with Rust-Oleum spray-on epoxy paint in gloss black. Open frames don't block sight lines, a small-space bonus.

The base of the custom Parsons-style table was painted Black Beauty (Benjamin Moore 2128-10) to complement the industrial-chic chairs. The top's stain matches the dark floor.

How to Paint Metal Chairs

Set in Stone

Because it's visible from the front door, the kitchen needed a little drama. That comes courtesy of counter-to-ceiling tiles (Raj by New Ravenna) and a black-framed picture window, which makes the space appear larger. Statuario marble countertops have bold veining like Calacatta marble, but at a fraction of the cost. V-groove paneling on the ceiling adds subtle texture.

High Contrast

The neutral palette from the living and dining areas flows into the kitchen where white upper cabinets brighten gray-stained lowers. Deep cubbies keep favorite serving bowls, utensils, and cookbooks in reach. Gray and white marble is a key player in uniting the rooms of this bungalow.

Cabinet Color Snowfall White (OC-118), Benjamin Moore

Tandem Desk

The designer outfitted an empty corner in the basement with an L-shape desk for two. A mix of open shelving and cabinetry provides pretty and practical storage against charcoal gray walls. Mixing gold and silver metal accents gives a modern industrial vibe.

Wall Color Kendall Charcoal (HC-166), Benjamin Moore

Classically Clean

The homeowners can stash bulk supplies and extra sheets and towels in the packed-with-storage laundry room. Clever pullout drawers serve as labeled hampers for sorting lights, darks, towels, and delicates. Quartz counters stand up to stains and scratches.

Master Suite

Hexagonal shower tiles contrast with the veining of the Calacatta marble that covers one wall, the countertop, and floor in the master bath. The other luxury in this bathroom: natural light, thanks to the clerestory window over the mirror. More eye-catching than plain paint or a brown wood finish, cool gray stain makes another appearance in this space.

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