Take Two


"l thought it was the “ugliest house on the block,” the cave-like apartment with arched doorways and closed-of rooms seduced the real estate broker who purchased it with more than just investment potential. Not only was the flat endowed with prime outdoor space, but Alta Plaza Park also beckoned nearby.

“It’s amazing how much you can change with a few surgical moves,” says Jennifer Weiss, the architect who gutted the flat and put it back together. The ceilings are 9 feet high, but the rooms seemed cramped because the doors and windows were exceedingly low. So Weiss raised the windows and stretched the new trim-free doors (many of which fold or pivot open) to 8 feet “to bring the eyes up.” She also moved and cut into a hallway wall and created new openings between the kitchen, dining room, living room and media room to capture views of the courtyard and park from vantage points throughout the house.

The living room, which was severed from the kitchen, is now open via a wide pass-through that encourages entertaining. The small brick-and-brass fireplace gained stature with a grander surround of high-gloss Venetian plaster that reflects the trees in the park. And guests can warm themselves on the elongated slate bench, fabricated by Clervi Marble, that wraps around to join a reading nook. Espresso stained walnut doors replaced the old wall-to-wall carpeting, and spackled walls were smoothed out with level-5 finish — like dermabrasion for drywall.

For a “recovering workaholic,” the renovation was a kind of therapy. “We had conversations, like, what does he want his life to be like?” says Weiss, “He went from living without furniture to scrutinizing shades of white and the size of reveals. He found his voice — and gained a home — in the process.”

Deborah Bishop is a contributing editor for Dwell magazine in San Francisco.

Original Story | SFChronicle