The challenge in remodeling a poorly planned, five-bedroom Victorian in San Francisco Richmond District was to create a cohesive, well-lit, modern home for two. For CCS Architecture, the solution lay in opening the interior to make new spatial connections while bringing in light and views. The wide, shallow, two-level residence had two sets of rooms—one facing the street and receiving southern light, the other with views of the wooded Presidio to the north but receiving less light. The rooms were closed off to one another, resulting in underutilized spaces with imbalanced light.
With the help of skylights, windows, wall openings, and an open outlook between rooms, the new interior flows from front to back, as well as from left to right. “We went to two orientations from one,” explains Design Principal Cass Smith. “We made the stripes into plaid.” The central stair case, which previously divided the house, was opened on both ends; that formerly dark object has become a dramatic, light-filled, two-story focal point. New rooms with new uses orient around the openings, creating clarity and flow. Art, sculpture and light liberate the space.
On the first level, a large, well-appointed kitchen transitions into the dining and living areas—essentially one 50-foot-long space that looks out to the Presidio. Panels of mirror with wood verticals line the west wall, bouncing light and views. Along the street, a new media room and a piano room/library have replaced two of the previous bedrooms. Both new rooms have few walls and are open to the other spaces. Upstairs, skylights and large windows illuminate the new master suite and home office. The serene and luxurious master bath has a large, walk-in shower with walls of limestone and glass. Operable windows with high sills allow great views of the Presidio but no sight lines in.
The Chen project is an innovative collaboration that demonstrates how to satisfy contemporary lifestyles and design appreciation within the constraints of a traditional home. CCS Architecture succeeded in inserting a new layer of modernism while still honoring the original Victorian structure.