Menlo Park, Calif.
If you have a house that has seemed like home from the moment you first laid eyes on it; if it is located in a delightful neighborhood full of good friends, is near schools and shopping, and has everything a family could wish for, then why move?
Ann and John Matthews have been asking themselves that question for 22 years as they have changed and remodeled, added on rooms to accommodate children and, more recently, built a mother-in-law's living unit at the top of the house.
Although they have now spent as much in remodeling projects as for the initial cost of the house, they believe their investment has been well placed. The market value of their house and property is now about six times what they have put into it. In the meantime, they have enjoyed an improving sense of home that has responded to family needs as they have arisen.
The original house they bought was a modest cottage with 1,000 square feet of space and a carport. It had two bedrooms and one bath, and was fine for newlyweds.
When daughter Mozy arrived five years later, they called in an architect to give them a plan for pushing out the back of the house to make an extended kitchen with a glassed-in addition to serve as dining room, family room, playroom, and entertainment center. This first remodeling job, which added another 600 square feet of space to the house, also converted an old shop space to a nursery-cum-guest room.
A year or so later a tree fell on the house during a storm. That reconstruction job included lifting the roof to include a storage attic.
Sometime after daughter Megan's arrival, and after returning from a two-year European job assignment, the Matthewses once more assessed their family needs. This remodeling job, they decided, would give each girl her own bedroom, add a spacious 16'x 30' studio where Ann could do her writing and art work, and ''John's Hall'' - a 10' by 20' space devoted to Mr. Matthews' desk, office machines, word processor, computer, and tall metal file cabinets.
''Our attempt this time round,'' Mrs. Matthews explains, ''was to give a private place to each member of the family.''
This renovation, they decided, would also include the addition of a ''granny flat'' at the top of the house, with its own outside entrance door and stairs, bath, and balcony for outdoor eating and living. Now, several years later, Mrs. Matthews' mother is happily ensconced in the granny flat.
Asked why they had hired an architect to plan each of their projects, John Matthews explains, ''We wanted the element of design that we felt only an architect could give. Style and overall shape were important to us. And we'd seen too many friends who did not get professional help end up with tacky, obvious little additions. Since we were making changes at different times, years apart, we also felt we could trust the architect to observe all zoning laws and to specify exactly the right size and quality of materials.'