Category Archives: lightwell house

lightwell house master suite


basement bathroomThis massive concrete retaining wall has held up a hillside since who knows when. When the house was built in 1955 they used this as a foundation, and at 14′ high created a lofty first floor/basement. Remarkably dry. It continues through this lot and apparently all the way through the city block – 228′ long! We used this unfinished area to locate a new master bedroom and bathroom:floor planThe new ceiling will slope from the bathroom at 9′ up to 12′ at new doors in the side wall, facing a narrow yard. angled ceilingThat’s the low point above, bedroom framing..and the high end.  That’s James of JP Builders – great guy to work with! door jambThis area will be the new sliding doors to the yard.  sketchup modelA rendering in Sketchup showing the concrete wall along 2 sides, and the new rooms. The closet was located partially below the massive terrazzo stairs, and we left the brick supports exposed. walk-in closetBelow is a photo of the back corner of the bathroom. The concrete wall was lined in cement board and will be clad in stone tile. I may have opted to leave the concrete exposed but the owner indicated that it was slightly crumbly and might not be as hardy when exposed to bath and shower water daily…transom windowsSince the back corner is hugged by the giant concrete wall it had no windows, so we put glass around the wall to the bedroom to borrow light from the new doors.  bathroom windowFrom the bath tub you’ll be able to see the stone wall continue through to the master bedroom.bed wallHere’s the wall where the bed will go, with the bathroom beyond. The two posts? One was existing / structural, the other hides plumbing. fleetwood doorsThe 11′ high 3-panel sliders are from Fleetwood.  The adjacent building is only 12′ away, so luckily we created a soffit for shades : )side yardOut through the sliders will be a low deck and some landscaping. This is looking up toward the in the slot yard street.  Just found out that any changes we want to make to the street front of the building will require a historic study….reminder: this was built in 1955…does that say ‘historic’ to you? Welcome to San Francisco! Not that we’re planning anything major – I love the mid-century lines, but it’s looking tired.  facadeStay tuned!

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lightwell house


front This house built into a hill in the mid 1950s had a common layout where the entire living area is on a single floor above a garage and unfinished basement first floor. Upon entering the basement level, everyone was surprised to find 14′ high ceilings! An exterior stair is all that connected the two levels.  concrete retaining wallThe high ceilings result from this concrete retaining wall that was in place when the house was built in the 50s. concrete wallWith all the height the homeowner wanted to finish the area into a master bedroom suite, laundry room and new interior stair. The project was divided into two phases; the kitchen, stair and laundry room in phase I and master suite in phase II.  lightwellThis laundry room and lightwell would be eliminated to locate the new staircase. brick belowHere’s the underside of the existing terrazzo stairs – we had to break through one of the brick walls for a doorway in the new first floor layout, but the other wall was left exposed in the new laundry room. kitchen studsThis is the demolished kitchen. Behind plywood is the old lightwell.  The roof was about 3′ above the ceiling, so we raised the ceiling in the new kitchen. new landingDownstairs the new staircase approached the garage ceiling before the hole was cut in the floor above. That’s the new stair landing at the top of the ladder. stair stringerThe upper run completed the framing. new stairA view from the top of the new stairs near the kitchen.  walnut stairsSkipping ahead, here’s a view up the lower run of stairs from the basement hallway.  The first floor will have walnut flooring so we continued it up the stairs, while the existing second floor has oak floors. walnut slatsThe giant, ugly return-air grille would have to be located at the landing, so I decided to clad the walls with wood slats to obscure it.  Air can pass through the slats as it needs to, and you don’t have to see a metal grille on a sheetrock wall. from kitchenHere’s a view looking from the kitchen toward the new staircase with display shelves and a skylight above. The stair is located where the laundry room and lightwell used to be.  More to come!

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