Home & Garden

The Mastako home in Arroyo Grande: Full of potential

The new fireplace surround in the remodeled great room is finished in natural clay plaster with a textured finish
The new fireplace surround in the remodeled great room is finished in natural clay plaster with a textured finish jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Each time Rodger and Kathy Mastako visited their daughter Kimberley while she attended Cal Poly, they capped off their trip by visiting a couple of homes for sale. By the time they found one they wanted to buy, Kimberley had attained her Ph.D. and was teaching at Cal Poly.

The home that finally won them over sits high in the hills above Arroyo Grande. Kathy was drawn to the distant ocean view. Rodger was won over by its spacious five-acre lot.

Both looked past the dated fixtures and finishes to see its striking modern architecture and its potential. “At the time we bought we thought — and were proven right — that no heavy construction was going to be needed to make it a great house for us,” said Rodger Mastako. The couple relocated from Palo Alto in 2001. Rodger had wrapped up a career as an investment banker and worked locally as a sales executive at KCBX before retiring completely. Kathy works in administrative support for the Cal Poly landscape architecture department.

Transforming the house happened in stages over the course of 14 years. A 2002 revamp turned a downstairs pottery studio and darkroom into a den with a home theater and bar. The couple used interior designer Amy Newman, who they sourced through Acropolis Lighting.

A more extensive remodel occurred last year. “I wanted the great room and kitchen to be the ideal place to retire,” explained Rodger Mastako who handles most of the cooking duties. Once again, they found their designer, Heather Tissue, through Acropolis Lighting. Tissue created the design for the remodel, and Green Goods handled the construction. Outdoor landscaping was by Bosch Landscaping, and Azteca Construction built the couple a new deck.

The Mastakos wanted the new interior to appeal to their midcentury modern tastes, unlike its former eclectic-traditional style. They also wanted the remodel to be as ecofriendly as possible.

Tissue and Green Goods — both adept at creating green yet chic interiors — sourced a multitude of natural and sustainable products. When the massive rock-clad, wood-burning fireplace came down, they installed a cleaner, gasfired unit and a sleeker surround clad in natural American clay plaster, which Mikel Robertson of Green Goods gave a velvety, burnished finish.

According to Tissue, mineral clay plaster “helps regulate room temperature and humidity and actually cleans toxins from the air.”

Fireclay tile, which has a high recycled content, was used both on the kitchen backsplash, and on a revamp of the home theater bar. The combination of gray with red accents reflects the prevailing color palette throughout the house.

Natural, renewable cork flooring took the place of a combination of oak and Saltillo tile, which, according to Mastako, chopped up the great room and made it seem smaller. They chose large-format cork tiles with a finish that reminds the Mastakos of considerably pricier, less sustainable travertine. And instead of ripping out and disposing of the old flooring, the new tiles float on top of the old material.

Tissue and Green Goods found ways to re-use, rather than replace, many materials in the house. For instance, the old cherry cabinets were simply given new pulls and spruced up with some everyday furniture polish. “Everyone says they like our new cabinets,” joked Mastako. “All the other stuff in the kitchen made them look great,” he added, referring to features like new Caesarstone countertops.

Instead of buying all-new furniture, the couple chose to rejuvenate their collection of midcentury modern pieces, demonstrating the versatility of classic, wellmade furnishings. Their impressive 10-foot long ma hogany dining table was taken apart, sanded, and refinished with ting oil. “This brought back the original deep grain from when the table was new,” Mastako said.

The dining chairs by high-end furniture and home accents manufacturer Donghia were originally clad in a fabric that Mastako acknowledges “was a mistake.” The chairs were rescued with new fabric that Tissue said “reminds us of bark cloth, what you often saw on cushions for rattan furniture in the 1950s and ’60s.” The madeover chairs now underscore the relaxed, midcentury vibe in the space.

The couple’s Donghia great room chairs have now been reupholstered twice since they were picked up 20 years ago in Palo Alto, this time in an understated chevron pattern. According to Tissue, this “cost slightly less than purchasing(chairs that were) similar new and revived a modern classic piece.”

Tissue even gave the couple’s 45-year-old beige Brown Jordan patio furni ture a new, vibrant personality by having them powder coated in blue and red.

The few new pieces purchased were selected for durability and timelessness — qualities that make them eco-friendly choices. Tissue helped the couple select a new glass coffee table by Fontana Arte which she called “a classic modern piece that will for ever hold its value.”

The remodel took seven weeks, and while the Mastakos are already plotting a bedroom remodel, Rodger Mastako believes they have achieved their goal of creating a comfortable space in which to enjoy retirement. “Now there’s no need to leave the house,” he said, “except for food and drink.”