Monthly Archives: May 2013

art deco house

marina styleThis otherwise ‘Marina-style’ house had some art-deco reminiscent details in it so that’s what I’m calling it. (marina-style typically has a garage and unfinished basement area at ground level with the living space on the second floor.)  Look at the front: we didn’t make any changes here, I really wouldn’t know what to do without ripping off those tiles – or paint them charcoal grey – is that possible? My clients said that in their search for a home they liked yellow houses because they look happy – I like that thought!

redundant hallwayThe house had a few challenges, one was the redundant circulation seen above – you could walk down a hallway or take a parallel route through adjacent rooms to get to the bedrooms and bathroom at the back. large bathroomSecond, the only bathroom was big enough to be split into two (it had that typical low-ceilinged shower stall) winder stairThird, the stair was narrow and wound down into the garage. basementYou had to walk through the garage to get to the tall basement space at the back.rear yardThe previous owner installed a garage door to the yard which I liked, but we ended up redesigning with non-garage doors. The new owners wanted a better connection between floors, a finished usable first floor, master bath and new guest bath downstairs.  I thought, who needs two hallways? and decided to drop the new stair directly down through the hallway floor. old hallwayHere’s a view of the hallway, with the other rooms to the side after we opened up the wall. low wallA view from the other end – cut stairs– and then right after the floor was cut out and the new stair put in.  Voila!  Direct connection down with comfortable stairs, opened rooms and finishing out the first floor…still in stairA view down to the lower floor to see the light coming in from the back yard.   Stay tuned, more to come!


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variation on a remodel

monarch butterfly top sideI spend my days designing new spaces and collaborating with inspiring people but here’s a transformation I didn’t have much to do with – but enjoyed just as much.  All I did was give this guy a free flight from NY-SF and a 3,000mi head-start on his brothers and sisters.  Here we have a monarch butterfly, common throughout North America and my parents’ yard in upstate NY. My inner science geek likes to watch the several-week process from caterpillar to butterfly, which goes like this: monarch caterpillarThis is the milk-weed chomping caterpillar that starts out as a dot-sized egg. Milkweed is poisonous / harmful to most animals so the butterfly and caterpillar have no (few?) predators.  It takes about 2 weeks from egg to this stage. Looks like he’s hanging out on my cutting board… monarch chrysalisIn a blink-0f-an-eye moment, the caterpillar sheds its skin and morphs into this creepy yet beautiful green chrysalis with gold trim. This is sci-fi in real life! It resides here for another 2 weeks or so, rearranging itself. Since ours was living in a jar and had no branches/leaves to hang from, we provided popsicle sticks. monarch chrysalis darkToward the end of its dormancy you can start to see the wing colors through the shell.  hatching monarchWhen it first pops out it’s all body and barely any wing, so it pumps the wings up as it hangs.  This happened on the day of AIA SF annual Home Tours and we caught it hatching just in time. monarch hatchingIt hangs like this for a few hours until its wings seem stable enough to start flapping.  Then of course I reach in and grab it for a photo-shoot. monarch butterfly bottom sideIt normally keeps the wings closed so the pale underside is visible, and I took about 40 photos of the second it opened its wings, but most were blurry. The pale colors blend in with the trees that it winters in. monarch walkingIt’s friendly enough to crawl around and hang out until it’s ready to fly away : ) monarch maleFinally a clear shot! Here he is seconds before takeoff, into the San Francisco September sun. Monarchs from east of the Rockies fly south for the winter to Mexico, while those from west of the Rockies fly to Pacific Grove, CA (“Butterfly Town, USA”) and areas nearby.  Knowing this, my mother and I worried that this eastern guy would fly southwest from SF out into the Pacific, thinking it was headed for Mexico! But I asked a butterfly expert (fellow geek) at the Pacific Grove preserve who confirmed that in fact the butterflies’ radar just resets and it will head to the closest spot.  I’ve read that their numbers have diminished from disappearing forests to over-winter in…sad.  I hope he made it, I hope he mated, and I hope they remain part of our gardens forever. This butterfly might just inspire my next roof design…

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