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Search for a Larger House Finally Brought Couple Back Home

July 28, 1990|JOHN MORELL | John Morell is a regular contributor to Home Design

ANAHEIM HILLS — Brought together by fate like "The Brady Bunch," the Melbourne family needed more room.

After the wedding, Denis moved into Nancy's 13-year-old, 2,450-square-foot, four-bedroom home in Anaheim Hills with one of his two children. Nancy was still caring for three children. Soon afterward, the couple learned that a new baby was on the way.

The search began for a bigger place, but the Melbournes always came home from a day of house-hunting wishing they could stay put. "We'd look at homes that would be very expensive but wouldn't have the lot size that we have here," says Denis, known as "Mark Denis" during his news and traffic spots on AM radio station KFI. "We'd come back and look around and say, 'Is it really better than what we have now?' "

After meeting with an architect, Nancy's brother-in-law, the Melbournes were convinced that they could have the extra space they needed without moving. Besides an extra bedroom upstairs, they wanted space "to breathe," says Nancy, an artist who teaches at the Orange County High School of the Arts.

"We needed an area besides the family room where the kids could listen to the stereo, where I could work, where Denis could pay the bills," she says.

The family also wanted an informal breakfast area next to the kitchen. After looking at their house with its 1970s fixtures, they decided it could use a general "face lift." A new kitchen would be fitted, new furnace, an air conditioner would be installed, new tile, carpeting, banister and a repainting of the exterior.

The two-story, 900-square-foot addition would be in the back of the house and would take up nearly all the patio space. Downstairs, the family room would lead into the new "media room" and breakfast area. Upstairs, a hallway would be created to lead to the extra bedroom.

They turned the project over to Mike Kafczynski, an electrical engineer-turned-contractor whose Big-K Construction Co. in Brea specializes in large-scale additions. Work began in May, 1989.

The first thing to do downstairs was to knock out the patio, the family room wall and a sliding glass window for the media room. The room was designed to have angled, bay-style windows at the end facing the back yard, and the cable outlet was to feed out of the new wall that partitioned the family room. However, after a careful look, Kafczynski and the Melbournes saw that light from the windows would create glare on the TV, so the set and cable had to be moved to another wall.

"That's an important point for anyone making an addition," Kafczynski says. "You've got to really look your plans over well and see if you have enough outlets and (if) they're in the right places."

In the room's oak entertainment center are a series of switches built into the wall that don't seem to operate anything, at least not yet. The Melbournes are planning to install an outdoor lighting system that will be operated from the switches. Kafczynski put the switches and wiring in place as part of the addition to ease installation.

The informal dining room is reached through the family room. French doors were installed as a decorative touch and as a way to enter the back yard. A kitchen window space was enlarged to make it a breakfast nook overlooking the dining area.

The biggest challenge in the kitchen was the replacement of the original pressed-wood cabinets with solid oak units. Along the back wall where the refrigerator sat, Kafczynski solved a nagging space problem for the family that is common in tract homes.

"Next to the refrigerator we had an island counter that served as a general catchall," Denis says. "Mike pulled that out and installed another set of cabinets, with one shelf created exclusively for a microwave oven."

As a final touch, they replaced the original linoleum floor with glazed tile.

Hoping to cut a corner, Nancy tried repainting the kitchen stove herself. However, only after she finished did she realize that the aerosol paint she bought from a home improvement store specifically stated that it should not be used for ovens.

"It won't create a fire," Kafczynski says. "The worst that will happen is it will peel. For ovens, the enamel has to be baked on because of the heat."

To rectify the do-it-yourself error, Nancy had the paint baked on the stove.

Brown paisley tile in the foyer was replaced with a more modern pattern, and the wrought-iron banister was replaced with solid oak.

Upstairs, room for the hallway was created in part by relocating the closet in 10-year-old Timmy's room to the wall facing one of the new bedrooms. The fifth bedroom was equipped with phone and cable hookups for Nancy's teen-age daughter.

The sixth room has become a study since its original occupant, Denis' youngest son, went away to college.

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