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Against the Clock

Racing to complete a refresh before the birth of their second child, a Tiburon family discovers they like the renovation challenge.

This home was lived in for 50 years by the architect who designed it. The new owners felt it was time for some updating.

Photo by Tim Porter

WHEN STEPHANIE Cohn Rupp and her husband, Scott Rupp, relocated from San Francisco to Tiburon in late November of 2013, they knew the home they’d purchased had good bones despite feeling dated.

“It was designed by an architect who lived in it for 50 years,” Scott says. Some of its original details, including vaulted beamed ceilings and a massive brick fireplace, transcend time. But previously state-of-the-art amenities now felt obsolete.

So the Rupps, no strangers to remodeling, agreed to slowly transform the space. Before moving in, they focused on simple cosmetic stuff such as new paint and flooring. Bigger changes would have to wait. With a baby on the way and a 2-and-a-half-year-old already in tow, getting mired in major construction just didn’t seem prudent.

But shortly after moving in, the couple realized that living in a home with decades-old appliances can be, well, challenging. “You had to kick the refrigerator door to get it to shut,” Scott recalls. “And the old electric stove wasn’t great either.”

So after much deliberation, they decided to take on the kitchen remodel ahead of Stephanie’s due date. Walls came down and windows got moved to optimize the home’s fabulous bay views. Then came new cabinetry, quartz countertops and, finally, all new kitchen appliances. “Construction went on through mid-June,” Scott says. “And Charlie was born on June 27.”

Living through additional renovation with a preschooler and an infant would intimidate some — heck, probably most — but the Rupps don’t spook easily. And, after a short break, the renovations continued. This time the Rupps focused on remodeling the home’s guest bathroom.

Up next, a more ambitious project involved reconfiguring the upstairs bedrooms and baths. “We took what was a loft area and walled it in to create a defined bedroom for our sons,” Scott says. “Then we borrowed space from both of their closets so the kids could have their own bathroom.” They also gutted and expanded the footprint of the home’s master suite.

Finally, the couple tackled the outdoor space, tearing out old bushes, plants and pathways and reinventing the area as a flat grassy yard where their children now run and play. “I’m an impact investor, and we try and live this in our own lives,” says Stephanie. “So, to save water, we made the decision to use artificial grass.”

All told, these renovations took nearly four years to complete. But the Rupps have zero regrets. “It wasn’t always easy. But it was definitely worth it,” Scott says.

WHERE THEY LIVE The Del Mar neighborhood in Tiburon

WHAT THEY OWN A five-bedroom (previously four), three-bath contemporary home

CONTRACTOR Amick Construction of Petaluma

CABINET DESIGNER Thom Harrison of Sausalito’s AlterECO

FAVORITE DETAIL “We love the kitchen, the view from there, how great the space is for entertaining and being able to take in the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.” —Scott Rupp

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