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Sunday, June 2, 2013


ENJOYING THE GOOD TIMES--Robin and Michael Borrelli love their North Park
(San Diego) bungalow compound.                                           
COMPOUND INTEREST--By Thomas Shess/Pillar to Post--North Parker's Michael and Robin Borrelli have owned their charming two on one Bungalow compound since the early 1980's.  Originally Robin's mom, Dede Helmer, lived in the front house. When she became ill with Breast Cancer, they were able take care of her in the comfort of her own home.  Two on ones are every where in North Park and are very popular for extended families for this very reason.

Courtyard between Bungalows
Over time they have remodeled both properties.  After Dede passed on, they started on the front house.  They opened the kitchen up, updated the appliances, put in a fireplace and central heating and remodeled the bathroom.  There is a deck off the back with a spa and stairs that lead to the backyard. That home is now occupied with a lovely long term tenant. 

The real show stopper is the backyard.  The adjoining brick patio is graced by the umbrella of a 50-year-old Pepper Tree.  The meandering brick pathways connect the two bungalows.  There is casual seating in front of a salvaged pot belly stove that keeps a toasty glow going on those chilly California nights.  There are several water fountains, herb gardens and whimsical lighting features that have turned on the magic.  A reclaimed teak dining table that seats 12 people is the entertaining hub, while a smaller hibachi table provides for more intimate meals.  Taking from a Cliff May design of the hacienda style court yard, the line between inside and out is gone and it all becomes one. 

The back house where Robin and Michael live, has gone through similar restorations as the front. It is their oasis from the world.  Their two Bulldogs, one French and one English, are safely tucked in with a Craftsman Style fence that Michael designed.  It has all been a labor of love, inch by inch.

For the past 35 years, Michael has owned and operated Borrelli Design and Cabinetry.  His12 person, award winning firm located in University Heights, is one of Southern California’s premier kitchen/bath and home design firms.  If anyone is seeking a modern touch and still maintain the Craftsman influence , Borrelli sites their Louisiana Street compound as an example.  “We love Arts & Crafts, but I really believe kitchen and bath areas can be more modern or as we call it Craftsman modern,” he says. For a taste of Borrelli’s brand of creativity check his fun website at

Robin ( is a Realtor with Ascent Real Estate, Inc. and has been a top producing Realtor for the past 18 years.  She has long held the belief that North Park is true gem of San Diego's Urban hub.    Robin was also the Founding President of the Canine Council of Morley Field after becoming involved with Park and Rec when dedicating a bench to her mom at the Dog Park.  The CCOMF was responsible for cleaning up that area and fund raising for the water fountain. “North Park is a gem and it is so nice to see it shining in its present glory.  There are now many diversified homes that are all inclusive of creativity, community service and dedication to make our neighborhood an example of what a little love can do,” adds Robin. The photos below show a recent Borrelli Design of the front bungalow. Mike and Robin have made the front their main living quarters, while in the rear bungalow they can entertain or simply relax.  The back bungalow has a full-sized entertaining kitchen and den.

Photography by Sam Belding, Courtesy Borrelli Design:
FRONT BUNGALOW--When redesigning homes with smaller footprints, a bolder sense of spaciousness (great room) was created by removing a wall between rooms.
FRONT BUNGALOW--Square patterns are repeated throughout the kitchen
in the cabinets, flooring and back splash tile.  Diagonal wood
flooring design adds unexpected drama and depth.

FRONT--Kitchen and baths are a forte of Borrelli Design
and it shows here in this powder room design.
LET THERE BE LIGHT--Soffit design beneath a skylight maximizes lighting.  Cabinet veneers were selected fromexotic wood.  Glass tile backsplash and granite countertops are counterpoints to the generous use of wood.  Custom table and cabinetry also by Borrelli Design.  Citrus from the compound garden.

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