Once upon a time on the Western edge of San Francisco a gardener and his seamstress wife shared a cozy 1929 row house with two German Shepherds, several planting starts and a wide assortment of fabrics. Having a place to call their own in the city they loved was a dream come true. When they bought the house in 2003 they embraced the charm of their new home that had not been changed in any way since it was built. Before moving in they hired a contractor to upgrade a few items like the electrical system, new light fixtures, refinish the oak floors and painting. It wasn’t long though that they realized they hadn’t done enough.
|The cottage by the shore.|
For eleven years they lived and entertained with an outdated kitchen and bath. In the summer the house would easily overheat and in winter it would often be cold and damp. In 1929 insulation was seldom installed in houses, after all was this not a Mediterranean climate? During these years they dreamed, discussed and disagreed about various possible additions, alternatives and alterations. Friends, family and clients, the mailman, the butcher, and the baker all listened to the continuously changing remodel that had yet to begin. The couple’s heated design debates became the talk of the town. The gardener and seamstress spent 10 years shaking spade and scissor at each other until a magical architectural wizard rode into town and broke the evil spell their outmoded surroundings had placed on them.
The architectural wizard envisioned a modern house of transparency and lightness connecting inside to out. A house allied to culture and site, respecting the past. A collaboration between gardener, seamstress and magical architect! It was a restoration, renovation and renewal with an end result that would enhance comfort, satisfaction, aspiration, productivity and wellness. What the couple wanted yet didn’t realize until their eyes were opened by the supremely gifted mage was a space in which they could live a fulfilled, romantic and creative life as they entered a new chapter.
|The wizard knew about the magic in nature and light.|
The architect explained that the restoration involved keeping as much of the existing fabric of the house as possible. Noticing the couple had a deep respect for the contribution of earlier generations and that a master with an eye to many fine details built this house, the wizard went to work. The plan retained and repaired the original façade with its large picture window. To protect and facilitate maintenance of this fragile piece a small balcony and awning of glass was suggested and accepted. Other upgrades to the front included a modern interpretation of a colonial entry court and additional exterior lighting. With a wave of his wand, concrete was removed for planting beds with native grasses for the wizard had also noticed the couple had a deep connection to the natural world. This he suspected but didn’t articulate was due to a long-standing appreciation of the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien.
|Connecting inside to outside.|
|Passive heating and cooling makes bedrooms cozy.|
Next the wizard explained that the renovation involved upgrading the systems and assemblies. Insulation, high efficiency zoned heating, tank less water heater, photovoltaic roofing panels, direct and indirect lighting, water saving plumbing, structural system strengthening and sustainable materials were installed. Passive cooling and heating strategies including cross ventilation and solar heat storage were implemented into the design as well. This was quite a lot for the couple to understand since they were not versed in the magical teachings of environment transformation. But the architect was skilled at explaining these things in the common tongue. What he said was that they would now be warm in winter and cool in summer, their utility bills would go down and they could live their later years without financial worry.
|Remodeled bedroom doubles as library.|
|The sewing center|
Finally the architectural wizard explained renewal. What he suggested was redesign of the existing kitchen, bath, spatial connections, and additions. And he collaborated with the gardener on exterior landscaping. Final additions included three new bathrooms, enlarged existing bedrooms, a multipurpose family room with laundry and sewing center; and a penthouse master suite.The landscaping included an outdoors kitchen, benches, a brick on sand terrace, raised ergonomic kitchen garden, new lawn panels and a green roof adjacent the master suite.
|The master suite is filled with light and views.|
The gardener and the seamstress now live and work in harmony with their surroundings and will continue to live happily ever after because of their wise choice of wizard.
|A glass box connecting in and out.|
|A house of transparency and lightness.|