AT HOME WITH TODD HOSFELT AND LOUIS SCHUMP / From '70s fixer to a family showcase / Tight budget, time crunch spur creative redo

A few months later, Hosfelt found one that fit the bill: an illegal two- unit building faced with brick and stucco that was nothing if not an eyesore. The asking price had been reduced, and their bid of $45,000 below was handily accepted.

"The bones were good, but the flesh was hideous," Schump said. "And those cottage cheese ceilings."

"It had typical '70s finishes," Hosfelt said. "Harvest gold appliances, daisy-shaped tiles, avocado walls."

Because they were soon to become parents, timely renovations were in order. Schump devised a strategy to minimize construction time and cost. First, they used a commercial contractor who could get the job done in eight weeks. In addition, they minimized the renovation, all but eliminating tile and millwork. "The house has a wood frame, so it made sense to extend the wood floors already in place into the bathrooms and kitchen," Schump said. To that end, they refinished the red oak flooring and continued it throughout the house.

With 2,000 square feet, plentiful light due to terraced siting on a steep hill, and high ceilings, the house needed mostly cosmetic changes with some structural updating. The overall plan involved joining the two units by opening the staircase, adding a new roof, skim coating all the fake stucco walls, replacing windows in back and upgrading the plumbing and electrical work. The couple also removed two large, ugly fireplaces to create more space for art.

The result is a cleanly defined, utterly comfortable living area. Large windows in the public rooms spread warmth throughout.

Honey-toned flooring is consistent in every room, as are mostly white walls and eclectic wood furnishings. Plush rugs and a plethora of artwork make the rooms both unique and inviting.

AT HOME WITH TODD HOSFELT AND LOUIS SCHUMP / From '70s fixer to a family showcase / Tight budget, time crunch spur creative redo

The couple moved in 2003 and now share the house with their 1-year-old daughter, Helen. They created a family dining area downstairs with an open kitchen, eating area, home office nook, guest room and bath. Upstairs is what Schump calls the "adult escape hatch" -- a spacious living room with two bedrooms and two baths. There is a peaceful, terraced garden off the master bedroom.

The couple also saved money by using unexpected materials. "We wanted to work outside preconceived notions about materials and process," Schump said. To minimize millwork in the kitchen, Schump designed cabinet faces made of solid birch door cores that roll on a track to open and close. The appliances, sink, countertops and island are all industrial stainless steel purchased from a restaurant supply store.

The bathrooms are simple and serene. To avoid the need for tile, the couple purchased three handsome claw-foot tubs and installed basic sinks and faucets. Stainless-steel window frames and custom-made stainless-steel mirrors add sparkle and interest.

One of his goals, Schump said, was to "create an interesting environment for art," that featured many of the artists from Hosfelt's gallery. "Art commands a certain amount of space," Hosfelt said. Cases in point: Two pieces anchor each wall of the living room. At one end, a large pink sculpture, "Purple Rain," by Tim Horn looks like a large piece of costume jewelry. The work is fashioned of cast bronze nickel with cast lead crystal. Both playful and surprising, it strikes a note of humor. Another piece, "untitled," by Ron Griffin, is an oddly elegant painting that contains abstractions of paper toilet-seat covers.

Hosfelt, 41, grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, and received a bachelor's degree from Iowa State and a law degree from Iowa Law School. He moved to Monterey in 1988, and after practicing law there for a year and a half, decided to enter the San Francisco art world. He worked at the Ansel Adams Friends of Photography gallery and the Haines Gallery before opening his own gallery eight years ago.

Schump, 45, is also from the Midwest. He was raised outside of Chicago and received a degree in architecture at Washington University in St. Louis. He moved to San Francisco in 1982 and worked at Gensler Architecture and Pfister Partnership before joining NBBJ in 1999.

Besides a healthy art collection, the couple has filled the house with an eclectic range of furnishings. Schump came to the relationship with a stock of midcentury modern pieces, while Hosfelt had more traditional wood furnishings, many handed down from his grandmother. Together, they create a look that is rich in tone and sculptural in form.

And as for that unsightly facade, plans are in the works for a redo when time and money permit. At the moment, Schump and Hosfelt appear to be having too much fun with their new house -- and family -- to get back to the drawing board so soon.