The Rose Garden Homes Tour has been celebrating the uniqueness and grandeur of the historic San Jose neighborhood for 22 years. This all-volunteer event is hosted by parents and students of St. Martin of Tours School who have spent countless hours to organize, prepare, and present this wonderful weekend. Proceeds benefit the children of St. Martin of Tours School by providing funding for programs such as Sports, Art, Music and Technology, in addition to the Scholarship Fund.
At the home of Dana and Michael Black, the rules don’t apply. From the glamorous black and white entrance to the whimsical beach hut out back -- and all the lush and layered surprises in between -- Dana’s uninhibited design aesthetic is a harmonious wonder. “Even when it looks wild,” she said, “there is a sense of symmetry and color balance and theory.”
Dana is an interior decorator at Dana Black Design whose years in the fashion industry from Milan to Tokyo honed her artistic sensibilities. She takes inspiration from design legends Tony Duquette (notice the eclectic Asian accents), Kelly Wearstler (don’t miss the geometric dining room wallpaper) and Dorothy Draper (how about that Florida palm frond fabric on the back settee?) While many use white as a neutral in kitchens, Dana goes black.
She also likes to mix it up. From the Fornasetti wallpaper and the Scalamandre “Le Tigre” throw pillow in the front rooms to the the 1970s vintage night stands and TJ Maxx foo dog lamps, “I don’t discriminate,” she said. “You have to make everything your own.”
She’s not afraid to do the work on her own, either. With a 20-foot extension pole, she painted the stairwell and with her youngest daughter, Ilira, a second-grader at St. Martin’s, she stenciled a bedroom floor. “I’m a maximalist,” she said. “Even though there’s a lot going on, it’s cozy and comforting.”
The home of Rose and Ogden Lilly Jr. is a charming gingerbread style built in the 1940s. The Lilly’s purchased the home in 1976 in the same year they were married. The location was perfect: near two of Rose’s siblings, across the street from Ogden’s parents, and within biking distance for Ogden’s daily commute to Boitano, Sargent, & Lilly CPA on the Alameda. The Lillys could not have imagined a better place to settle.
After the birth of their two sons, Ogden “Oggie” in 1979 and Aaron in 1983, the Lillys began to outgrow their home. But with being so close to family, work, and schools, the Lillys never considered moving. Instead they transformed the home to suit their needs by adding a second story to create four additional bedrooms and two bathrooms. In 2015, the kitchen was completely remodeled. An enclosed patio and dining area were combined to create an expansive great room.
The “Ravizza Ranch” sign in the kitchen is a nod to Rose’s family. As multi-generational local cherry farmers, the family still operates a farm in Morgan Hill. Rose and her five siblings grew up a within a few miles of the Rose Garden neighborhood. Oggie graduated from St. Martins in 1993, Rose’s sister, Cathi, recently retired after decades of serving as school secretary, and her niece, Elisa Nicholson, is currently the second grade teacher.
With a warm and inviting porch, unique green door, and touches of Asian and Victorian influenced design, the Lilly’s home is now a wonderful gathering place for their sons and their wives, extended family, and their soon-to-be grandchildren.
Originally built in 1938, this charming English-style home was a “total disaster” when homeowner Jim Gold bought it in the year 2000. The house had good bones, with a distinctive, steeply pitched roof and unique architectural details, and Gold quickly recognized the potential to restore and expand the house into a comfortable, modern home that would still fit seamlessly into the Rose Garden neighborhood. Gold, a private builder-developer, who has remodeled a number of homes in the Rose Garden and Willow Glen neighborhoods, spent the next two years extensively remodeling the home.
With support from building designer Lynn Miller, Gold nearly doubled the square footage of the home while carefully maintaining its original cottage feel. The remodel preserved the original exterior, including a large bay window, the brick façade and porch, and the original front door with decorative glass. Dormer windows were added to the peaked roof to add upstairs bedrooms without dramatically increasing the height of the roof. The interior also highlights original architectural details, such as a wood ceiling and recessed shelving in the living room. At the same time, Gold added a large, modern kitchen with decorative tile, paneled cabinetry and a chef’s stove. A new, welcoming family room opens onto an expansive back patio and provides a perfect area for Gold’s frequent entertaining. The overall design is a thoughtful mix of classic English cottage architecture plus all of the modern luxuries that fit today’s lifestyle.
Upon completion of the remodel in 2002, the home was awarded First Place for Restoration or Remodel, the Designer’s Choice Award, and Best of Show by the California Society of the American Institute of Building Design, the professional organization for building designers.
For Liz and Mark Page, opening their house as part of the Rose Garden Homes Tour is becoming a habit. This is the second time they have graciously volunteered to participate in the Rose Garden Homes Tour. Liz and Mark moved into the Rose Garden neighborhood back in 1999. Their most recent home was on the tour in 2010. They are excited to allow guests to peruse their remodeled Cape Cod style 1940’s home.
Liz, a New Englander, avid runner and scout for homes as part of this tour, always has her eyes open for homes during neighborhood runs. She had her eye on this particular area of the Rose Garden, which was barely a block away from her previous home. When the home was about to go on the market, Liz and Mark employed a tried and true recipe to ensure they got the home they wanted. They authored another “tear-stained” letter pronouncing their love for the neighborhood and desire to remodel, yet preserve the style of the home. Obviously the strategy worked.
As the 3rd owners, the Pages wanted to maintain the bones of the charming New England style home while updating it and expanding it for their family of five which includes 2 teenagers and Penny the dog. As part of that strategy, approximately 75% of the house was demolished with great care to preserve the structure and salvage what could be reused, including the redwood siding and bannister.
The remodel involved moving walls downstairs but maintaining most of the original footprint. Most of the changes came upstairs with the reconfiguration of the stairway and the addition of the master suite. They worked with a terrific team consisting of architect Lyle Mosher, builder Rose Construction and had design help from Willow Glen Home and Garden. In the end, they got exactly what they wanted and needed for their family’s changing lifestyle. They are thrilled with the results: an outdoor entertaining area where a glimmering pool beckons family fun, bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms for each member of the family, private space for out-of-town guests and a multi-functional kitchen and great room for where they can make dinner, do homework, play board games and watch TV together. When asked why Liz is pleased with her new home, she says with a beaming smile on her face “it’s home sweet home, and we’re not moving again!”.
Five minutes. That’s all it took for Jim Nielsen, and his late wife Sheila (St. Martin’s class of 1962) to decide to purchase their home on University Avenue in 1999.
“When Sheila saw the house, we had just finished a total remodel of a house in Willow Glen,” says Nielsen. “We had always wanted to come back to the Rose Garden, and when the house came up for sale, with the size of the lot, and potential of both the house and the yard, it took us about five minutes to decide to buy it.”
The Nielsen’s contracted Mark De Mattei of De Mattei Construction to remodel the main home and yard. The backyard originally featured a functioning pigeon coop for racing pigeons which was designed by local architect Pierre Prodis. The “coop” was constructed of an insulated cement floor, and the walls were lined with nesting boxes. Today, the “coop” is a special entertaining spot fully equipped with a bar, kitchenette, flat-screen TV and comfy furnishings.
The pool is a special spot for Nielsen’s black Labrador Retriever named Gracie. She is a professionally trained duck hunting dog, and when she’s not working, she loves to swim in the pool daily.
The unique ivy swags draped along the yard’s fence line were planted, trained, and tended to by Sheila.
Irving Tamura of Tamura Designs is credited with designing the low-maintenance, yet beautiful and functional gardens throughout the property.