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.
The kitchen: the heart, the soul, the black hole. It’s where life happens. Every
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.
My grandfather was a carpenter, and many of his now-vintage tools are still stocked away in my parents’ garage. I dug through them last winter and photographed some – see them here. The man passed away in 1973, and although I didn’t meet him I have to wonder what traits were passed down – general interest in design / carpentry / furniture? Gardener, witty and a had a sweet tooth? He made his living doing odd-jobs of cabinetry, furniture, some larger framed projects over the years. His name was as big as the figure he appears to be in the photo – Theodore Roosevelt McElroy – born just after the president left office. These old family tools of the trade deserve a spotlight in a time when there is a renewed interest in makers, things handhewn, made in America. I find them inspiring and a reminder to continue to DO stuff with my hands. (I’m using my hands to blog, right now) Among the items are a number of hand-made wooden toolboxes, many of them long to accommodate longer saws. Now one of them has a horseshoe in it… I can imagine these time-worn antiques being snatched up by homemakers and designers, hung on walls and stuffed with succulents or tchotchkes. I just gave myself a good idea! (we recently installed old tools / toolboxes in the office windows – post coming soon)He even made the boxes that the drill bits and chisels would be stored in. I wonder if he had to use the bits to … store the bits? I’ve seen some of these things pop up in clothing store displays such as the wood folding ruler. Because if you buy that flannel shirt you’ll feel capable of swinging an axe : ) Nice carved saw handles…I photographed everything on the concrete floor of my parents’ garage in December…freezing.One of his projects was to convert a former barn into this cozy home for his own family of 6. (Dad tells us how he had to help excavate the basement, with shovels – or was it spoons?) The garage and a bedroom were added later. We spent many holidays here over the years. It really was an ode to Americana. Note the M on the chimney. Ok not everything here was used for carpentry but it’s some cool stuff. Here are some old photos of him again below, looking both casual and dapper. He’s standing in front of a fieldstone barbecue he built. I like to think there’s some of that woodworking/make/do/stuff of him in me, even if it’s currently manifested as architecture with occasional weekend forays into dead furniture revivals…and yes, I have a few sweet tooths.
Our panel discussion about small firm collaboration at AIA SF on August 29 was covered by the folks over at Architizer. Thanks for documenting the topic, and rehashing it as a glowing article – great job, Lamar!
Happy to see that the page has over 12,000 views so far…
Read the article here.
This soggy little home has squatted above a creek in Napa’s countryside for about 50 years. It was once 2 mirror-image units, then combined into one with an awkwardly large kitchen. My clients converted it back to 2 units, one for their own use, one for a rental. Here is how it looked just as the remodel was completed:The plans below show the before/after layout. The owners wanted to achieve an open plan and 2 bedrooms in their half. Here are some ‘before’ photos – the beam in the kitchen shows where the 2 units used to be divided:What’s a fixer-upper without wood paneling?! As we came up with a few schematic plans, I couldn’t resist the pitched roof and empty attic above the flat ceilings: Why not take advantage of this? Of course it would have to be re-framed; its 2×4 rafters at 30″ on center with only a thin plate at the ridge wouldn’t span the width of the building…The idea was to vault the full width of the house at one end over a ‘great room’ with flat ceilings everywhere else. What a difference to see it opened up. . my client really wanted to keep the wood planks exposed but it would be a more complicated rebuild than they wanted to embark on. So the new framing dropped below the old 2x4s. Below is the new framing and where the vaulted ceiling meets the flat ceiling, so there would still be an attic over most of the building. Below, the house just after completion:This is the vaulted-ceiling great room. I pushed for windows above the doors, but the owners didn’t want neighbors looking down into the room…The 8′ tall doors show where the flat ceiling used to be, now room soars to 13′ at the ridge beam. Smart decisions such as butcher-block counters were selected without blowing the budget. Below, another before/after angle—->The color palette instantly launches the house into modern day although it’s the original wood siding. New dark aluminum-clad windows add to the depth of the house. The small stoop grew into a patio that will have an overhead trellis for shade and privacy. I’ve been invited and can’t wait to spend an evening there!