A Modern Farmhouse Rich in History in Palo Alto’s Professorville

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A home’s history is just as much an accessory or statement as the furniture it holds and the occupants it hosts. For blogger and editorial director Tienlyn Jacobson, photographer and producer Nikko DeTranquilli, and their dog Mao Mao, the former could not ring truer. Their 1904 farmhouse has been in Tienlyn’s family for decades, and before that, it was home to a man named William Price McNutt. “Rumor has it,” Tienlyn explains, “he used to throw the most fabulous parties at the house. When he passed, his ashes were spread over the bamboo in the backyard, and we like to think we can still feel his spirit here at the home. It just adds to the magic of this place!” Rich in history, Tienlyn and Nikko are fascinated by all of the stages the house has gone through, and they thrive off of the energy that the many people who’ve enjoyed the space bring. But before they could coin their nest the gathering place for their many friends, some renovations were in order.

The first thing the couple did was rip out the carpet that spanned the entire length of the home — and then the carpet underneath that, followed by linoleum, and then another layer of carpet underneath that! As Tienlyn explains, “It was like rings on a tree. It almost felt like an archeological dig and we were going back in time with each layer.” The entire renovation took just under six months, and they proudly accomplished it all themselves — everything from the demolition, to the plumbing, to dry-walling, tiling and laying flooring. While staying true to the home’s integrity, character and open floor plan, in the end, Tienlyn and Nikko created a space that balanced her modern aesthetic and his love of all things eclectic.

In addition to the home’s unique layout and storied past, the central location can’t be beat. The house is nestled in Professorville, a historic area of Palo Alto, CA that contains homes originally built by and for Stanford University professors, and while the lot itself is a private, serene escape into the past, Palo Alto’s rapidly-growing downtown is just a short walk away. “We are really thankful to be able to live in such a special place, in such a cool town, Tienlyn gushes, “There is so much going on in Palo Alto right now — it’s definitely at the forefront of some of the most innovative things happening in this day and age. And then, at the same time, the home we live in is rooted in such rich history. That mix is pretty special.” –Sabrina

Photography by Nikko DeTranquilli

  1. Margot says:

    This is so lovely. That pitched ceiling! So many vignettes and beautiful, personal things.

  2. I love that place! I want to move in right now!

  3. Amy says:

    Too many little vignettes. You cannot get a feel for the overall layout of the home.

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      I’m sorry the pictures didn’t hit the mark for you- we’ll keep pushing to make sure we get as many full room shots as possible. But there is a floor plan provided, so that should make the overall layout very clear.


  4. madlyn says:

    Beautiful couple,beautiful home,and a sweet dog! Thank you for sharing.

  5. Erica says:

    I enjoy the personal, little vignettes! Lovely home!

  6. Sara says:

    Beautiful!! Love Tienlyn and Nikko, and their home’s history and personal touches.

  7. Rachel says:

    Efficient use of a small space! Was wondering if this is an apartment or free standing home? It’s a little difficult to tell from the cropping of the pictures. Thnx

  8. Jen says:

    That’s the kitchen I’ve been dreaming about! Love the modern touches on a traditional style.

  9. Dianna Orlandi Wong says:

    Love, love, love, the chandelier! Thanks for sharing……..:)

  10. Natasha says:

    I love this home! So many details, and each one of them is lovely and attention seeking :)


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