Here’s a familiar California scene, a sprawling ranch house with a pool inserted into the middle right outside the patio doors. (love the kidney-shape!) The house was originally a L-shape, with the garage on the right, and in the 1960s the center was infilled with a glassy “Likeler” addition. (like, but not, an Eichler). Taking a cue from the board & batten siding, and the potential for vaulted ceilings, the proposed project will transform it from tired rancho to bright, modern with a farmhouse overtone. A view inside the infill addition above, with deep wood beams below a tongue & groove ceiling. The roof / ceiling is sloped just slightly that the doors at the exterior wall are limited in height. Below, a stone-floor ‘old west’ bar and fireplace – perfect to order a flaming drink! Accordian doors separated the rooms…Below is a view at the rear of the old garage. It had been converted to living space, and we’re opening it up to create a family / play room with lots of windows and doors. We removed the low, rearmost portion that would barely allow for new doors. The entire roof had to be reframed since it will be vaulted in its new life. The bottom photo shows openings for (3) sets of french doors. When I first visited, I appreciated the asymmetrical view of this roofline in front of the pool. It reminded me of another asymmetrical ‘old west’ house from my distant memory – Little House on the Prairie! OK maybe a little bit of a stretch. In the middle photo above you can see the new bank of windows, and doors around the side. (too many for windows for a prairie winter…I’ll stop now) From the inside, below:
The owners decided on polishing the existing concrete floors that were buried below old carpet and flooring tiles, in this room and the main Likeler room. I love it. Other attached spaces (kitchen and dining area) will have stone or tile to match the concrete closely. A closeup of the concrete below:
The view above is the beamed ceiling after it had been lifted, to create a flat plane. The Jenga-type blocks are temporary :) until the new posts were inserted. The new doors will be (3) pairs of french doors that fit up in between the beams, with no upper transom windows. We considered a full-wall multi-panel slider or bi-fold, but those would require a steel beam header, below the wood beams, that would minimize the overall door height. It was a challenge but we decided the tallest possible french door with 2×2 divisions would be appropriate throughout the house.
Around the corner from the tall french doors is the kitchen with window-wall breakfast nook, mimicking the one in the play room. This area seen from the outside, below: Stay tuned, more to come!
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!
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.
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!