On Renovations and Transformations
Having remodeled hundreds of homes over more than a decade of architectural practice, I find the whole-house renovation very satisfying. And when these renovations address seriously neglected or damaged structures, so much greater is the satisfaction and pleasure. Bringing a building “back to life” is a wonderful thing.
Our approach to these types of projects is to first evaluate the existing building. We think about things like structure, history, functionality and beauty. What parts of the building are salvageable? How does the building fit into the surrounding neighborhood context? Does the floor plan lend itself to today’s lifestyles? Do we need to restore, or create some aesthetic appeal?
We recently completed a renovation to an Oakland Hills home in need of some love and attention. The original building was built in the 1970s and had been uninhabited for some time. Beyond the damage caused by a lack of maintenance, the original design was inadequate for structural reasons. Perched high up on unbraced piers, the building was not adequately designed for wind and earthquake forces.
Our task was to add space to the building, improve the structural deficiencies, and do it all quickly. By working with the salvageable parts of the building – the roof structure and perimeter walls, we added space below which served to not only increase the building’s size, but strengthen it as well. Then we worked some architectural magic to make the home more inviting visually. We relocated a carport that obscured the building’s entrance, added new fire-resistive materials appropriate for a hills side home, and achieved green-point rated certification. See full remodel photos here.
In the Noe Valley neighborhood of San Francisco, a turn-of-the-century home suffered from fire damage and terrible remodeling work in the 1960s and 70s. Though the original architectural detail from the home had all been removed, the bones of the traditional bay windows and entry stair remained. We preserved these elements, and then designed a building that fits in with its traditional neighbors.
Many times in San Francisco, architects look at this as an opportunity to create a modern looking building. We chose a different approach that reflected our clients’ tastes and a strong desire on our part to make the building part of the neighborhood.
The original design never took full advantage of the site – an alley fronts one side of the building. This gave us an opportunity to add windows and a balcony where there was only a solid wall. The added light brings a new dimension to the building. We added an entertainment space at the top of the building – setback from the street to maintain the scale and proportion of other buildings along the street front. See full remodel photos here.