Sometimes you don’t know what you want until it’s right in front of your face. Pamela Lin and her husband, Erwin Tam, had set out looking for a run-of-the-mill, contemporary cookie cutter home with two stories that they could move into without much renovating. But none of the dozens of homes they toured wowed them. Until they walked inside a home designed by well-known California developer Joseph Eichler.
Seeing the open-sky atrium surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows and the open floor plan, Lin and Tam’s style compass completely shifted. Turned out, they weren’t lovers of contemporary style at all; they were midcentury modernists at heart. “Right away we knew this home was for us,” Lin says.
Another thing they soon discovered: Lin is a natural designer. A full-time project manager for Google at the time, she reached out to a few professionals, but her tastes were so particular that she just decided to design the whole house herself, reimagining the kitchen and bathrooms and choosing furnishings, materials and paint colors. Two of her fellow Googlers saw the end result and each hired her to do their homes. Then a neighbor’s friend saw the house, knocked on her door and hired her. After that a different neighbor procured her services as well.
With such demand, Lin decided to start her own interior design company, Urbanism Designs.
Houzz at a Glance Who lives here: Pamela Lin, Erwin Tam and their daughters, Eniko (8 months) and Eliana (4) Location: Sunnyvale, California Size: 1,890 square feet; 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
The exterior form is virtually unchanged apart from new paint. Lin also added frosted glass to the front door sidelight, changed the side fence to ipe wood and added landscaping steps and concrete planter boxes, which she designed based on a photo she saw on Houzz.
Exterior paint: Dolphin; door paint: Pumpkin Cream, both by Benjamin Moore
Lin believes a wood wall originally separated the interior and exterior and that a previous homeowner changed it to frosted glass.