Remodel of a 1920's Condominium in San Francisco Richmond District  


When purchased in 2007, this upper apartment in a two-unit building from the 1920's had not been updated or re-decorated since the late 1950's.   The exterior of the building is Edwardian and had been converted from TIC to Condominiums in 2006.   Much of the interior period detailing had been butchered, but the bones were solid, the location in one of the desirable western neighborhoods of the city afforded and outstanding view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the rear.  

I saw an opportunity to restore the unit to it's period glory while adding contemporary lifestyle conveniences including a chef's kitchen, new master and guest bathrooms.   As in most of my other projects, "elegant simplicity" was the design esthetic I was after.  The project took 10 months to complete, included new electrical, plumbing and re-plastering throughout, new entry staircase, careful restoration or replacement of the original moldings, replacement of all interior doors and hardware, upgrading windows, restoration of white oak flooring, as well as the new kitchen and baths.   I acted as Architect/Designer, General Contractor, finish carpenter, cabinet builder and installer.  

Click on any of the thumbnail images for a larger version of the photograph. 






Original Cabinet Design Idea from a Magazine
I wanted to be as period-sensitive (1920) as possible during the remodel, and tripped over this photo in a magazine as a close approximation of what I was after in the kitchen.




Concept Drawing for Cabinet Front
After locating sources for the period-specific hardware, making field measurements of the space, and drawing up a variety of cabinet door proportions in CAD, I ended up with this final working idea for the remainder of the cabinet drawings.




Detailed CAD Drawing Example
After the concept drawings looked acceptable, detailed drawings of the entire space and cabinet details were made.   Nothing was standard about any of these cabinet units. Each one is a one-off piece of furniture designed specifically to fit the existing space.





Faceframe and Door Fitting
Shown above is the assembled faceframe with doors and hardware being fitted to the faceframes.   The faceframes were constructed with Poplar and joined with pocket screws.  The doors and drawer fronts are traditional frame-and-panel construction of Poplar using a custom profile appropriate to the period.





Base Cabinet with Blum Tandem Drawer Slides
The boxes for the cabinets are from 3/4 in pre-finished maple Eurobirch plywood, dado corners, glue and AssyPlus screws for construction. Cabinet backs are 1/2 in Eurobirch. This was the first time I'd used Blum Tandem slides - which aren't that easy to get right with faceframes. I spent a lot of time detailing slide placement and it all worked perfectly.  The advantage of the Blum Tandem slides include under-drawer concealment, easy removal of drawer, drawer front projection alignment points and soft closing mechanism.





Base Cabinet with Drawers& Fronts
Drawer boxes were made from European Beach with dovetailed corners. Drawer fronts are poplar frame-and-panel similar to door detail.





Sink Base with Bookshelf and Doors Being Fitted
After faceframes were installed, the doors were precision fit to the openings with 2.5mm cut-line clearance to allow for paint thickness, and hardware installed.





Upper Cabinet Unit
This is an upper cabinet just prior to transport to the job site with faceframes installed, doors fitted and hardware installed.





Original 1950's Kitchen
This is the range corner of the original kitchen. This particular range corner was not a functional layout, and the original kitchen did not have a space for a refrigerator.  Six layers of  Linoleum on the floor - some put down with tacks one inch on-center.  I decided to use vertical-grain white oak for the new floor consistent with the living and dining rooms.  





Reconfigured Range Corner
By removing an unused flu and pipe (for the old range) I was able to reconfigure the range corner as shown and tie into the older roof penetration for the ventilation system.  Being an avid home chef myself, I was after a highly functional workflow in the reconfiguration, and inclusion of modern convenience ideas, but to keep the overall design statement low key and period sensitive.





Cabinet Installation
I prefer to work alone when possible and it was a challenge to get the cabinets installed working alone.  Some of the upper cabinets weigh in excess of 150 pounds and the ceilings are 10 feet above finished floor.  As I expected, the floors were not level - varying by as much as one inch overall in the kitchen and this required a lot of fussy fitting of the cabinets to insure the units were level and remained square.  Custom baseboards scribed to the floor were fitted after cabinet installation.  The opening shown here in the base cabinets is for the dishwasher. 





Sink Base with Granite
I searched extensively for just the right stone for the countertops. I ended up selecting Granite - dark sage green, with white swirls - because it had a feeling of the original period of the building, but also felt contemporary because of the coloration. It took three slabs for this job.  The sink is a commercial extra deep single-bowl stainless under-mount unit from Franke.  The cold water supply to the Franke spout, the pot filler at the range and the icemaker in the fridge is filtered by a Multipure unit.   Under the sink is a Hafele trash/recycle storage system, and an oversized disposal.





Range Corner after Stone Installation
Since the cabinets have a finished height of 37-1/2 inches great care was given to the range height position.





Sink and Refrigerator Area
Shown here is the recessed Liehberr refrigerator after cabinet and stone installation.  I chose the Liehberr unit because it is self contained yet looks custom-fitted, is from the leading refrigerator manufacturer in Germany , and compared to a Sub-Zero unit consumes a fraction of the energy, offers more storage and is easier to service.





Completed Result
Sink and range area looking into the adjoining laundry area.  The recessed wall unit opposite the range was originally an externally vented cold storage box.   I replaced this rotting box with the built-in unit shown which houses the microwave oven, toaster oven, other small appliances and a small stereo.  Lighting is a combination of recessed dimming CFL cans in the ceiling from Cooper, florescent strips under the wall-hung units, plus two decorative pendants over the sink.  The dishwasher to the left of the sink is by Miele. 





Finished Result as viewed from Dining Room
The wall color is a pale sage, and the cabinets a soft creamy white - historic in appearance with a contemporary light feel.






View from Kitchen to Adjoining Laundry/Pantry Area





Finished Kitchen Showing Cooking Station, Sink and Refrigerator Installation





Finished Cook Center
The range is a Capitol unit (spin out of Wolf) with center 5th burner with 22,000 BTU output, custom tile back-splash with glass accents, pot filler, Vent-a-hood exhaust system.






Laundry and Pantry Area
I decided to carry the stone into the laundry area to give a feeling of continuity and to insure the laundry are didn't have an "orphan" feeling compared to the kitchen.





Under-counter Washer Dryer
This washer dryer installation was very difficult because of the space constraints, but the outcome was well worth the effort.   The water supply includes a moisture-sensing shutoff as well as a remotely located manual shutoff.





Ball Catches Throughout
In keeping with my obsession on period detailing, I decided to use furniture quality ball catches throughout. All the hardware in the kitchen is polished nickel.





Period-appropriate Drawer Pulls
his shows the final detailing of the drawer pulls and the relief profile on the drawer fronts.





Twelve New Custom Wood Passage Doors
The doors in the unit had been painted about 10 times and looked like they had been whipped with chains. Some were damaged, some were cutoff 2 inches above the finished floor.  I decided to replace them all with new vertical-grain fir units custom sized to the existing openings, and elected to continue the period detailing into the decorative solid brass hinges.





Traditional Solid Brass Mortise Locksets Throughout
This shows the new locksets installed in the doors. Fitting and installing the hardware on the doors was painstaking and time consuming.   For cutting the mortises I made jigs and performed six different router operations for each door at the job site. The knobs are crystal (not glass) and the backplates are heavy solid brass specific to the period. All doors have functioning keylocks.





Finished Living Room
The unit was lath/plaster with surface wiring. I decided to completely rewire the unit, add recessed lighting where appropriate, and then had a master plastering team skim coat the entire unit after all repairs were made. The results are flawless  All fixed pane glass and the rotating vintage Dean windows were replaced with new low-e double-glazed glass to be more eco-friendly and significantly lower the street noise.





Living Room to Dining
The floors are vertical-grain white oak, needed extensive repair and refinishing.





Dining Room
I added the wainscot to this room to conform to the original period. When the project began, one wall in this room had faux brick glued to it.





Dining Room
The main lighting fixture was specifically chosen to look up-to-date and add drama but also tie back into the period of the building.





Guest Bathroom
I decided to keep the original hex floor in this room and spend the time making it fresh again. New Toto toilet with soft-close mahogany lid, and after inspections I added the corner lavatory I found in France. The wallpaper was custom made in Canada to a period design I supplied.





Master Bathroom
I decided to use tumbled stone on the floor for traction and enhanced it with diagonally placed glass accents. The tub is custom made (27 inch code restriction) and is a full 22 inches deep for soaking. The stone overlay on the tub and the lavatory counter are charcoal granite honed to give the appearance of soapstone without the drawbacks of soapstone. The tub surround is tiled with micro-subway tiles made from Carrara marble - a fresh interpretation employing a material commonly used  in bathrooms from the original era.  All fixtures are Hansgrohe in polished nickel. 





View from the Bedrooms
This is the view from the two larger bedrooms and the sun room. The property is outside the gate, looking back into the bay.