23rd October 2013

There are those houses that catch your eye because of their striking, out-of-this-world design, and then there are those others that grab you because, while they’re striking, you could actually imagine living there.


Old Bernal House certainly falls into the latter category. This 1860s cottage is one of the oldest properties in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighbourhood, and the house had stood empty and neglected for years before the current owners took it on and tasked Feldman Architecture with renovating and extending the originally small and dark cottage.


The architects retained the envelope and the façade of the existing house and added a new wing: a slender, 10 feet wide addition on two levels that contains a bedroom suite, studio and office spaces, and a garage.


Both the roof and the upper floor were cut away in the centre of the house and rooflights were installed to wash natural light down the staircase and its textured stone wall – a beautiful, organic detail – and into both the living room and the kitchen. The back garden is now accessed through large sliding doors that spill the kitchen and dining space outside.


The old-meets-new mix is reflected in the furnishings and internal detailing: in the way that the crisp kitchen cabinetry is combined with a traditional range cooker, while the rear of the section facing into the dining area is clad in rustic timber planks – a combination that continues into the bathroom. And the chunky timber dining table is paired with Philippe Starck’s transparent Ghost chairs, while Le Klint pendants hang delicately overhead.


This 150-year-old building has been completely transformed, both in its scale, clearly, but also in its flow and inter-connection, and in the new sense of volume and light.


Visit Feldman Architecture for more photos. Photography by Paul Dyer and Joe Fletcher.

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