pacific heights part deux

heath modern basics

At this house (top floor addition: 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms) we’re further along with finish materials and details. It’s exciting to watch the transformation, sometimes it seems to take forever, other times change happens quickly. Tile is about 75% installed in the bathrooms – Heath Ceramics’ Modern Basics ‘Heron Blue‘ covers the walls of the 2nd bathroom. shower niche

Above are the niches in each bathroom. Each is 12″ x 36″ and will have a shelf to divide it. On the right is a marble mosaic hexagonal shape in the back wall of the niche and 12×24 wall tiles. grout color

Tile hasn’t been grouted yet but we chose the dark grey shown above for the floors (top shiny penny-round tiles for second bath, marble hex in master) vanity cabinet

The master vanity is a cool grey-blue to pick up on the darker veins of the marble tiles. Cabinet by Bartlett Cabinetry via KnockKnock.

wall paneling

The square grid paneling at the top floor is a continuation of the existing paneling in the entry room below. flooring install

It took some drafting skill to lay out the grid in the way that made the most sense. Not all squares are equal, but generally about 20″x20″. We had to work between wall, window, door and floor constraints. Once painted a solid color, any variations will be undetectable.  Bedroom flooring on the right. herringbone floor

Herringbone flooring in the stair hallway / office. Herringbone pattern costs about twice as much as straight-run flooring, but it’s arguable twice as beautiful! We’re loving it.. dark flooring

The flooring has had its first staining and sanding. It’s an antiqued dark brown finish. In the corner is the built-in desk; walls and cabinetry will be Sherwin Williams ‘Muddled Basil’.

steel railing

The black steel railing pickets on the left, ready to be attached at each tread on the new stair. On the right at the bottom of the stairs is a round newel post that I designed to complement the existing curling railing. The post will sit on top of the bottom step, as yet to be extended in the photo, and the existing railing on the right will be continued over to meet the newel. round newel post

The newel at the top of the staircase, the handrail and guard rail along the hallway. Guardrails are 42″ per code so the top newel is just over 4′ tall.  It has minimal detailing – a base, and a cap, with rounded edges. plywood

When in the field and you’re designing as you go :) – plywood works as well as a sketchbook! Above is a section for the cornice at the front and rear facade of the new top floor.

Stay tuned, more to come!

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pacific heights part deux update


Yeah, it’s been a while since I posted on progress! I’ve been running from project to project and have a million photos to upload and share… always be sure to check out the Instagram page for more current blips on construction site day-to-day stuff…but be warned the account is peppered with other random, ‘colorful’, not work-related photography. I’ll leave it at that.

Here we are back at the Pacific Heights House, Part Deux. As of today tile has begun install. Since May the crew has motored through the last bit of framing, through rough plumbing and electric, gyp board and radiant heat install. stair framing

Above is a view up the new stair to the new top floor. Two more views below. new staircase

We’re talking to metal fabricators for a new railing to continue up. We may maintain the existing style or depart from it…victorian remodel victorian mantel

Above are two photos of the front room of the house. We’re adding new shear / plywood to the perimeter walls because of the heavy addition above. In 2009 we didn’t get into these walls much, hence the old plaster & lathe came out and it’s ready for ply now. We’ll match the ‘cove’ ceiling when the wall is replaced. rough plumbing

Walking through, the open walls are a jumble of new plumbing and wiring. Locating switches, outlets, faucet heights, etc. and slight revisions and decisions while we have the chance. It all has to happen before the walls are enclosed with sheetrock.insulation

Insulation is installed. Sheetrock delivered and ready for install.

infinity drain

Above, the crew mocked up what the slope of the shower might be if we rise the core-required full 2″ from the low point of the infinity drain. It seemed a bit steep to stand on sideways so we came up with the idea of dropping the infinity drain downward 1″ so the shower only has to slope 1″ down..sheetrock

Just like that, the sheetrock is up! Windows have arrived are being installed right now as well. We’re using Sierra Pacific to match the windows we used on the floor below in 2009. level 5 smooth

Level 5 smooth….. and a note I made about a thermostat location. toilet room

Above, we’re taping out to see if the swinging door will hit the front edge of the toilet. It looks like it will clear! One person at a time :) radiant heating

Radiant heating “Quik Trak” is being installed next, throughout the new floor level. A less costly alternative to Warmboards and others. In the old project we had to install the tubes from below because we did not want to reduce the ceiling height. quik trak

A corner of the room with the pre-routed grid of the Quik Trak in place. Below, I had a little assistant on the site one day and asked her to take notes during my ‘meeting’, hence the pad & pencil. I could have gotten a better photo! She enjoyed touring the construction site with Uncle Tom and then was down the stairs and ready to go home…but I can’t quit at 2pm! assistant

Stay tuned, more to come! (I will try more frequently!!)


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pacific heights part deux

birds eye view

It’s always a treat to return to a house and start the second phase of a project you designed a master plan for. In this case I worked on an interior to-the-studs remodel of this house back in 2009 – see it here in our portfolio and here on the blog as it was ripped apart. This was a fun collaboration with Ian Stallings Design. Above you see an aerial view of the house as it was recently, with a low pitched roof and attic above the main living space. I was thrilled when the new owners contacted me and expressed that they now want to add the top floor.proposed rendering

We worked off the old plans and made some modifications for the new owners. See renderings of the proposed top floor addition – an elegant, flat roof structure with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, office space and large outdoor decks that will tie right in with the existing house. The front deck is largest since here in SF you’re encouraged to set back top additions so they’re not competing with the original facade… like it or not!  Below is a view of the rear of the house, with the new intimate master bedroom deck overlooking the existing courtyard space below.


roof removal

We’re working with Cook Construction for this project – a team we’re very happy with. The demolition of the old roof, its 5 layers of asphalt shingles plus original wood shingles, went pretty swiftly. Above, looking toward the front of the house, below, the rear. old attic

redwood framing

A view from within the front part of the attic looking back – you can see all the recessed lighting, wiring, and ducting from the 2009 project.

top floor addition

Just a short time later, the new floor level was framed in. pacific heights

At the very front of the house, you see the old boards of the cornice / parapet. The views open up in this direction.


Above left – the opening for the new staircase. On the right, the only part of the new roof that is sloped is over the master closet, a result of negotiating with neighbors who were concerned by potential impacts to light. They’ve since moved away. front facade

A little over a week later, the top floor has been mostly framed and plywood is up. This is the front wall. master bedroom

Above is the wall of doors and windows from the master bedroom. new view

Lastly, the beautiful view from the office / hallway area, between two adjacent buildings to the hills beyond. Stay tuned – this one’s moving fast!

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bridge to somewhere


I thought I’d start with this image although taken some time ago, is a little indicative of my daily work experience. i.e. balancing my workload high above everyone’s heads with imminent danger (drama) looming, sometimes in my sperry top-siders and members-only jacket, but usually in plaid. It takes stains better. yuk yuk yuk We’re on one of two steel c-channels that form the ‘bridge’ in this house. RECLAIMED REDWOOD

A few weeks later it looked like this once all the sheetrock was in place, looking toward the back of the house. We’re all really excited about this element / focal point of the home, and as mentioned in an earlier post we reused attic redwood framing to make the walkway of the bridge.SHAKER STYLE KITCHEN

A view looking in the opposite direction at the kitchen, some cabinetry installed, and the front door off to the left. At the right side of the kitchen is the light shaft with a skylight at the top, and will have a glass panel to close it off but let light through. STAIRCASE

Here’s a look at the main stair that connects all 3 levels. After we shifted the rooms around the old walnut floor border had to be redone to make sense in the new spaces.


The lower stair was at first enclosed below but we decided to open up the triangle of space to let some light through as you walk down that lower run. The steel railing is in place in the photo but the wood hand grip isn’t in yet.


On the left I’m holding up old wood casing against two windows that meet in the corner…clearly we couldn’t use this 6″ wide trim – we went with a flat stock. On the right is a steel post, part of a moment frame at the front of the building that we left exposed right next to the original wood window trim. We like the contrast!  I was thrilled that these clients were as excited as I was to leave the unfinished steel exposed. I’ve tried to work this into a few projects but it’s often been covered up. Who doesn’t want a hulking steel beam in their house to brag about?BARN LIGHT

Fast forward a few weeks, this is a view looking up at the bridge and loft, with a nice round barn light in the foreground.


Here’s a view looking out along the bridge once the owners have moved in. The guard rails were custom-built by a local fabricator, with 1/4″ x 1/4″ solid square pickets. The pendant lights along the bridge hallway were powered off to one side, so we wouldn’t have to run wiring through the center ridge beam. The lights are just swagged over and hung off the beam by a hook.


And a view looking over the edge past a barn light down to the dining table.  Below is a partial exterior view; nothing much changed at this facade since it is ‘potentially historic’. The one change we did manage to sneak in was to replace a missing wood ‘flower’ ornament that the owner noticed upon moving in! See in the red circle – it’s back in place! I encouraged the owners to go with a monochrome paint color; originally tried to get them to do black or dark grey but I’m happy with the sugar-cube look as well. Stay tuned, portfolio shots coming soon!  WHITE PAINTED HOUSE


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WE’RE IN DWELL! I was flipping through the pages of the latest issue only to see a photo I submitted of our office via Instagram… Yep, our rinky-dink little office storefront with the turned-sideways door numbers here among the sexy modern lines of international designs … it’s in the “Your Rooms We Lovespecial issue. That means even if you already subscribe to the magazine, you won’t receive this – so you all have to run out and buy it. Once I was able to actually turn my new favorite page, looking further through I spotted a photo I submitted of my friend’s front door entry near Ocean Beach.


Wow, 2-for-1 publishing / free promo! This will lead to great things……It certainly doesn’t count as my big publication in Dwell, which will happen sometime in the future…stay tuned. After all, this isn’t technically one of our projects, though we did ‘design’ the storefront display and door numbers.

Now for some gratitude:

Thank you to the person who kicked in the glass of our office front door last year and tried to break in. (they didn’t make it inside) If not for their mischief, we never would have boarded up the door, painted it black, and added the oversize, rotated numbers on it. The perfect silver lining!

Thanks to Randy for collaborating on the storefront tools.

Thanks to FJ for painting her entry alcove an obnoxious lime green that I love (keep saying No to the person who wants to change it!) I believe I encouraged this color so I’ll take some credit – and I still think you should paint the front door lime as well. Colorblocking is all the rage.

Thanks Dwell! You can publish more of me anytime!

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glen park house

glen park house

I first met this awkward little Glen Park house a few years ago, when the owners brought me in to design a large addition. Things went on hold for a while but last year we picked up where we’d left off.  By then the program increased and it became a truly to-the-studs project.  It’s in the early stages but we’ve got some great things in store for this house. rear  The house had been added onto and reconfigured several times over the years. It needed help: once inside the front door you walked directly into the dining room table; the top floor was composed of 2 pinched bedrooms; and the first floor was barely 7′ tall. interiorBeing that the house sat against a steep hill, it was a vertical 3 stories + basement at the front and 2 at the rear. It would benefit from excavation to capture additional space within the hillside, so the first step was to start digging.. excavationThe original garage was a narrow bunker; the new garage level would become full-width. As the layers of house were peeled away, evidence of cheap fixes were found, seen below: no longer need a door? don’t bother to remove it, just enclose it in the wall. have an extra crate lying around? use it for wall framing. ran out of plywood subfloor? cardboard is just as good. old doorold flooring interior demoThe house will expand in all directions, up, sideways, backward, down. At the front, the existing 21+ steps to the front door will be cut in half, by entering at the lower level. Less of a climb with groceries, et!  exterior stairsAs we dug down and removed a small rear room, the house showed its true colors.  IMG_2504Soon after, concrete was poured in the area of the rear addition. IMG_2972It will be nice to be able to walk out of sliding doors to the existing rear garden. IMG_2371Sunlight streams in from the south-facing arch window one last time, now already removed after this photo was taken. It’s a view and precious light worth capturing, and we’ll be doing that with a larger bank of windows as we proceed through this remodel.  Stay tuned, more to come!

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noe valley victorian bridge

roof framing

Once the 2×4 flimsy roof was ripped off, the new roof was framed back up pretty quickly. The top floor will have new rooms so we needed to take advantage of dormer space, and as much height as possible.  The view above is looking toward the street. old shingles

On the right is a close-up of the layers of shingles, starting with the original cedar shakes from late 1800s and a series of asphalt shingles right on top.  Note there is no waterproofing in the old roofing system! On the left is an old coffee coffee can that was found during demolition.

dormer framing

Here is a view looking toward the back of the house; the roof is a tricky series of angles and shapes. At the very back is the square ‘box’ addition from sometime in the ’80s or ’90s.


A view from the inside of the new bedroom at the former attic level. It’s a double-ridge dormer. The neighbor’s house is just outside – tight urban living! new dormerFrom the street you barely notice the dormers. There’s my Volvo out front :) dormerThe same view a few weeks later after the plywood sheathing has been installed on walls and roof. triangle windowAnother few weeks and the windows are installed – this is the corner facing the street and Twin Peaks beyond, so we thought it important to have a window along the slope where the dormer meets the roof. Uncommon, but I was able to dig some examples up online. footbridgeThe ‘great room’ will occupy the area at the back of the house on the middle level. There I am crouched on the old attic 2×4 framing, which we repurposed as a bridge walkway to connect the areas of the new top floor.  The photo below was taken sometime between the two photos above, once the attic floor was taken out but before the bridge steel was installed. steel framingI am SO excited to have this steel exposed in the house; it will be a nice mix of Victorian and modern together, and tell a story of the old framing that was reused to build it.  bridge walkwayA view below the bridge toward the rear wall.  bridge sketchA sketch when we were figuring out how the bridge would meet the floor on each side, which were at different heights! lincrustaAbove is a detail of the existing lincrusta wall covering featuring birds (Swallows?) original to the house. Most of it was removed but will be replaced.  Next to that is the rectangle of a closed window found behind the refrigerator. Much of the work at the upper two levels happened while the new concrete footing was being poured around the perimeter of the house at the ground level. Groundwater was discovered during excavation which set the progress at the ground floor back a few weeks.

More to come!

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