Architect Cary Bernstein recently completed this renovation and expansion of an old cottage in San Francisco's Potrero Hill neighborhood. The cottage had suffered a series of haphazard additions over a 100-year period, and the client wanted more space and an updated modern interior.
Bernstein describes her goals thusly: "To expand the house while staying within the existing footprint to protect the mature gardens, to preserve the charm of the existing building’s ad-hoc character, to integrate a modern architectural vocabulary with the older construction, and to build sustainably." The resulting home fluidly knits together a modern vocabulary of open interiors, connection to the outdoors, innovative structural details, and a mix of contemporary and reclaimed materials.
Designed and built in 1878 for Judge John Murphy, this 4,400-square-foot white structure has, from the outside, the undeniable characteristics of a classic San Francisco Victorian. Jennifer Roy and her husband, Jonathan NelsonI renovated its interior back to the 21st century. In the boys’ shared room, Jasper finds plenty of space to scatter toys. An original chandelier provides a reminder of the house’s past while muted orange walls plant it firmly in the present.
For Jerome Buttrick of Oakland based Buttrick Projects, the aim of this renovation was simply to update an already well-designed midcentury home. Situated on a steeply sloping lot, the home boasts views of the Bay from the comfort of a sheer buttressed living room, a move inspired by the one from the original plan.
Keeping much of the original layout, the extensive remodel involved replacing almost every wall to introduce modern insulation, appliances and materials. Not only has the remodel made room for the kids, it also incorporated subtly sustainable features such as sun shading eaves and operable windows. As Buttrick explains, “The original project was a future forward-looking stage for domestic life that remains relevant today.”
Among the directives for architect Erica Severns from her client, John Parker Willis, was “some chaos in the kitchen design” of his home in a converted San Francisco garage. Others included saving the old concrete walls and uncovering the history of the building, which Willis, a developer, divided into eight units, keeping one for himself.
In this new 2,770-square-foot apartment, original I-beams brace the structure at dramatic angles and collide overhead, and the raw concrete is tempered by blackened steel, white-oak flooring, and bush-hammered Carrara marble—all selected by Willis.
In architecturally conservative San Francisco, this house built on a 20-foot-wide lot proves that modern design can fit—literally and figuratively—in any neighborhood.
What San Francisco complicates with limited parking and tricky slopes, it makes up for with stunning views of the Bay. That’s exactly the attitude a Noe Valley neighborhood homeowner brought to her remodel. San Francisco–based firm Studio VARA was contracted to turn a 1908 cottage with a history of incohesive alterations into a beautiful, practical 3,500-square-foot space.
The all-female architectural/engineering team’s careful attention to detail paid off with a comfortable urban retreat that equally reflects the history of the original cottage and the homeowner’s needs. A folding window wall opens onto the East-facing deck, creating an ideal indoor/outdoor common area. The living room features a Ligne Roset Feng sofa and custom Tai Ping carpet.
A house that survived the Great Quake and the intervening decades is reborn after a serious intervention by a modernist architect. David Baker’s carefully crafted rehabilitation kept the bones of the building intact, while letting in light and air and creating a new relationship between the structure and the street.
The living room is a comfortable melange of pieces Baker grew up with, such as the Robsjohn-Gibbings chaise, and ones he's added, such as the Frank Gehry Power Play club chair.