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. 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. Being 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.. The 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. The 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! As we dug down and removed a small rear room, the house showed its true colors. Soon after, concrete was poured in the area of the rear addition. It will be nice to be able to walk out of sliding doors to the existing rear garden. Sunlight 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!
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.
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.
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! From the street you barely notice the dormers. There’s my Volvo out front :) The same view a few weeks later after the plywood sheathing has been installed on walls and roof. Another 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. The ‘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. I 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. A view below the bridge toward the rear wall. A sketch when we were figuring out how the bridge would meet the floor on each side, which were at different heights! Above 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!
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.
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.