Here is a typical ‘railroad flat’ Victorian house in Noe Valley. The house is nestled among a tight old neighborhood with close neighbors and a narrow, 20′ wide lot. As seen below, the house had a full, unfinished attic – and good views of Twin Peaks and Sutro Tower in the distance. Check out the spooky, dark attic. So much potential. The photo below was taken after the chimney was removed so there is some light coming in, but the first few times we went up it was pitch. Always a gamble what you may find…animals? bodies? box of money? At the back of the house was a tiny flat-roof room addition housing a pink-painted kid’s room. Not many windows in the box, creating a huge blank wall above the rear garden. Otherwise the house was in a limbo retaining some Victorian elements and halfway decent updates. That’s possibly the world’s smallest island in the kitchen! Aww. I met the new owners the day after Thanksgiving last year and learned of their quick timeline. A full, to-the-studs remodel was in order!Something else I should point out is the existing brick foundation, on which the house was sitting but was not actually connected to in any way other than gravity! Yes, the house was not bolted to the foundation at all. It could hop right off in a sharp earthquake. In order to create new living spaces at the basement level, we would have to replace the brick with concrete – a huge ticket item, something not immediately visible and would take up a lot of the budget. The permit was obtained quickly by avoiding the dreaded, 9-12 month ‘neighborhood notification’ process. We could add dormers and expand into the attic and basement but no major additions. Demo began as soon as we had a permit. The house started to open up. We’ll keep this small leaded window. It’s painted shut but it’s a cute relic. The house feels spacious now with the attic and ceiling opened up. In order to achieve living space within the former attic, we planned to drop the entire ceiling (since we had a generous 10′ height) of the main level. And just like that the roof is GONE! Except for the front 15′ feet. The contractor said the neighbors were looking out their windows wide-eyed. Seems so bright and spacious up here. Initially the owners wanted to create a small deck up there but I encouraged them to actually use the attic footprint for living space – it will be uniquely shaped with the angled roof but worth it.A rendering of the house (on the right with mirror twin on the left) showing the new dormers at the roof level. Stay tuned – more to come!
Check out the “room of the day” feature on our project near Dolores Park. Thanks Jeannie!
Things are looking skeletal in Sonoma as the farmhouse is stripped down for rebuilding walls – insulating, plumbing, electric and new window / door locations. Above is a view into what was the bathroom and dressing room. Like an open-air pavilion, the existing roof hovers above the completely open floor – seems like it wants to lift off! In the far end will become the great room – living / dining / kitchen. Here is a look at the beginnings of the master bedroom addition. On the upper right is an attic window that may become a fort for the kids. The addition will be connected to the existing / old house by a glass hallway, framed here. It forms a small recessed area perfect for plantings. A few weeks later, plywood on the framing starts to give shape to the addition – a simple gable structure, which seemed appropriate for this house and its locale. The low gable seen to the right on the old house will be rebuilt to match the pitch of the addition roof. A look from inside at the master bedroom gable wall. There will be two windows stacked vertically. Here I am standing on a heap of soil outside the house – not my typical site-visit attire! (we were on the way home from a casual weekend trip and we dropped in)
Stay tuned – more to come!
The kitchen: the heart, the soul, the black hole. It’s where life happens. Every
kitchen has an awkward corner that’s jammed with extra stuff. That’s often the case in 100+ year old kitchens that weren’t laid out with efficiency in mind. They also weren’t necessarily laid out with a hoarder collector in mind. Our corner has the faux-wood microwave, speaker, cookbooks and bowls. What to do? Gas pipe shelving of course! First I used my awesome Sketchup skills and drew it out. Not knowing the standard pipe lengths before we shopped, we made assumptions of what would be nice. This corner has a window sill and other wood trim pieces to work around (trim around a dry-storage pantry that’s been sealed off since we moved in….dead body). Then we made a shopping list of the various pieces we’d need. There are 100s of examples online, and in real life around San Francisco to draw inspiration from. Here are the gas pipe pieces laid out and starting to be assembled. These are 1/2″ (but measure 3/4″ diameter) pipes and fittings; 12″ lengths. Once at the stores we found nothing between 12″ and 18″…..18″ would be too tall. They come slathered in grease so be warned. We left the raw iron; I’ve seen some painted. We love old wood that I’ve grabbed from my remodels, but our corner dimension required 17″ deep and old lumber would only be 12″ max. So we used 1″ thick ACX plywood, pretty neat with its striped layers. We plan to apply a satin poly to the plywood to protect it from the kitchen mess. We decided to drill and run the pipe through the fronts of the shelves. Other versions simply lay the wood across two ‘ladders’ but we figured this was more sturdy and looked good. And, why not run wiring through for a light? This had to be pulled through as it was built. Factor in a sloping floor and we had our work cut out for us! The round flanges act as feet, as well as attachments to the wall. At the back, the shelves merely rest on the fittings – not drilled through here. Some other details, seen above – such as the cap on the top. There’s the light bulb – because that window doesn’t provide enough light (at night). Yes, we’re ‘green’ and have a small carbon footprint, but the Edison bulb is hard to resist! All in all this took much more time to prep for (planning, sourcing the materials etc) than building it, which was less than two hours (not counting downtime waiting on the ancient drill battery to recharge…). So there we have it – a place for the multiple sets of pyrex bowls, heath ceramics, books and other kitchen stuff to spread out and breath. Within easy reach, and too pretty to not be out on display at all times! The microwave? Found a home in the laundry room.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen some [wood] studs, but demo has begun up north! Demo always happens quickly, and within a couple of days this 1900s stucco house was stripped to the studs. I mentioned this project last June, and after the design process here we are at the start of an exciting transformation / addition. Permitting was comparatively quick – no neighborhood notification required like in SF (I won’t bore you with that drama – another time). The footprint of the existing house will remain the same while the interior is rearranged and a new master bedroom / bathroom wing is added to the left in this photo. The low gable roof in this view will be rebuilt steeper to match that over the addition. Around the back there will be a new gable / vertical extension with a bank of doors opening to a concrete patio and view beyond. The renderings below show the currently planned design. This house will have a simple palette of finishes that work well in a relaxed ‘country’ setting. Exact window & doors TBD, especially the gable-angled windows and the massive multi-panel slider, which run around $1000/linear foot. Stay tuned – more to come!
Old crusty tools, spraypainted gold and suspended in the glow of bulbs was the result of a weekend office window makeover, after brainstorming with old
college pal partner in crime Randy Kaufman in from Boston. He came up with clever but simple ideas to amp up the windows that had gotten dusty in the past months. This involved urban foraging for supplies at the local junk shops and thrift stores – I’m easy when it comes to dropping everything to go pickin. We dug through to find a good selection of things, made a mess and got yelled at by the proprietor (just like old times!?) and took off with our finds. Although the tools each had a unique, time-worn patina, we opted to lightly color them into uniformity. The toolboxes were a little harder to find and not as cheap as I expected for plywood junk, but I grabbed them and coated them gold. We spent the day racing around town for supplies, then dividing the items per window, hanging them with fishing line and building the central piece to each window: Edison bulb light fixtures made simply of dual-socket-adapters, which we expanded to (6) bulbs each. There’s really no limit – you could grow this thing to a really beautiful, asymmetrical fixture over your dining room table! We were happy with the results, minimal, sculptural, warm. The lights are on timers so they click on just at dusk and off before midnight. I’m enjoying collaborating to make these window displays something interesting – a fun diversion from the daily grind. I’m sure it’s confusing to passersby as to what we have to offer but there’s only one way to find out!
We had the first popup art install in the office during ArtSpan‘s Mission district open studios – the first of many to come in an ongoing rotation. The goal is to cross-pollinate with other creators in a design-meets-design venue. In general, to meet cool artists, provide them space to show their work and see their work on our wall! It’s a 30′ wide x 12′ high wall…otherwise blank…so it makes sense to use as the backdrop. What to call the popup…hmmm 12×30? There seem to be a lot of something x something galleries already….Gimena Macri is an artist new to San Francisco from Argentina. Her show ‘Anonymous Builders’ explores various early types of shelters indigenous to California. Having only met her a little over a month ago we thought this was a perfect subject with its relation to what we do in our office: residential design. (this being the first, was an excellent excuse to give the office a deep clean and transform it into something neutral for the art to be highlighted in.)We had a little opening event, and the art will be in the office through the end of November. Typically available by appointment only but if anyone is walking by, feel free to drop in if we are in! 485 14th St SF CA.