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It's becoming a fairly common scenario—a sophisticated metropolitan couple gets married and after a while decides to start a family. But because of limited space (and nowhere to park the station wagon) they feel compelled to abandon their urban abode and head to the suburbs, like it or not. Home's first remodeled showhouse project offers a solution to that dilemma—a spacious, livable, family residence right in the middle of the city.
Situated high on a hill in San Francisco's stately Pacific Heights neighborhood, the town house is just steps from a thriving commercial area and has direct views of Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge.
The original 1938 structure, of painted stucco with wood siding, was a duplex with two stacked apartments. Our goal was to maintain its exterior architectural integrity while transforming the inside into a three-story single-family home.
Developer Michael Folk, together with architects Fabien Lannoye and John Schrader of local firm Nova Designs + Builds, gutted the building, having first devised a floor plan that maximizes space and the site's natural asset, the remarkable view. The new plan is "upside down," with the main living spaces on the top floor and the bedrooms on the middle level. The entrance is on the ground floor, as are a two-car garage and a studio apartment in the rear that opens onto a small, landscaped yard.
The city's renter-friendly zoning laws required that Folk maintain the building's two-unit status, so the fully functional studio apartment, though decorated as an in-law or au pair suite, can be rented out.
Another pesky building technicality, the local fire code, called for a back staircase, but this turned out to be an asset as well. The quick link to two of the most used rooms in the house—the third-floor kitchen and the second-floor master bedroom—"is a great convenience," says Folk.
At 4,600 square feet, the house is comfortably spacious, but the team did its best not to let it feel overwhelming. "There are no grand staircases or overscaled, high-volume rooms," explains Folk. In fact, the design crew paid special attention to creating cozy, intimate areas. Architect Sarah Susanka, author of The Not So Big House, weighed in as a consultant, adding proportion-taming elements like lower ceiling heights in the bedrooms and baths to make the spaces feel more personal.
|Cabinets Sedona Cherry in Autumn Blush finish with Vista Mullion Doors, stainless steel bar pulls, and Bistro glass. KraftMaid; 888-562-7744, .
Countertops Flanking range—Corian in Fawn. DuPont Corian Solid Surfaces; 800-426-7426, corian.com. Island—Zodiaq in Papyrus. DuPont Zodiaq Quartz Surfaces; 888-699-1079, .
Faucet ProAvatar single-control pullout kitchen sink faucet. Kohler; 800-456-4537, .
Fireplace Compact 35" See-Through Heat Circulating Louvered fireplace with Square Pane doors. Lennox Hearth Products; 800-655-2008, .
Range Six burner, 36" Professional Series. Viking; 888-845-4641, vikingrange.com.
Television 65" Diagonal Onyx XVS Series Plasma HDTV Monitor. Panasonic; 800-405-0652, .
Even though its location is decidedly urban, the house contains all the amenities of a suburban family dwelling, such as a kitchen-family room combination. "Most people love the concept of entertaining in a space like this," says Schrader. The 512-square-foot area, which has two walls of folding glass doors that lead to a deck, feels like a theater where you can enjoy the amazing vista of San Francisco Bay and beyond. "Without a doubt, the best thing is the view from the family room," says Folk. "When that wall of windows opens up, everyone's jaw drops."
It's those custom touches that make the residence one of a kind, but, for the most part, the architects created its distinctively upscale look using home-center and building-supply store staples including Armstrong hardwood flooring, Baldwin hardware, Corian countertops, Kohler plumbing fixtures, and KraftMaid cabinetry. "The house feels really high end, yet almost everything is affordable and off the shelf," says Schrader.
That goes for the furnishings and fabrics as well. Interiors expert and HGTV host Joe Ruggiero decorated each room with a nod to the building's past, but with updated colors and styles. He used pieces from his latest line of Norwalk furniture, upholstered in Sunbrella fabrics that are also of his own design.
The fabric line is city-sophisticated yet family-friendly, as it was originally designed for use outdoors. "It's practical for both kid and pet traffic," says Ruggiero. "Plus, it doesn't fade." In addition, the new supersturdy weaves are softer to the touch than the outdoor variety, and come in bouclé, chenille, silk damask, linen, and cotton.
To balance the quiet neutrals in the home's formal living room, the designer punched up the color in the family room. The sectional sofa, two long seating units with an L-shape piece joining them, injects a burst of energy into the decor with its persimmon hue.
Ruggiero returned to more serene palettes in the warm, melon colored secondary bedroom and the studio apartment, which is blue with hints of lavender. "The whole house reflects a growing interior design trend toward a cleaner look, with an air of tranquillity," he notes.
It's the mix of old and new, traditional and contemporary, that sets the home apart and satisfies the taste of a cosmopolitan city dweller with a family. This space really has everything—the architectural character of high ceilings and thick crown molding along with sleek light fixtures and high-end appliances, topped off with beautiful yet practical fabrics and furnishings. It turns out that settling in the city doesn't have to be a compromise after all.
The formal living room, shown on these pages, is decorated in a light, monochromatic palette, using slight variations in hues, patterns, and textures to add interest.
|Pillow fabric Joe Ruggiero textile collection for Sunbrella. Stripe O Rama in Spring. Calico Corners; 800-213-6366, .||Wall Paint Divine Vine KM3445-2. Kelly-Moore Paints; 888-562-6567, kellymoore.com.||Club Chair & Ottoman Fabric Joe Ruggiero textile collection for Sunbrella. Chenillela in Spa. Calico Corners.|
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