Victorian row house renovations usually lean on the side of historic preservation, but the transformation of this house overlooking Eureka Valley in San Francisco is at once incredibly modern and nostalgic. The home also features an eclectic mix of styles and a healthy dose of sustainable building strategies including salvaged materials, a beautiful green roof, and an amazing solar photovoltaic canopy. The renovation on the 3-story duplex was carried out by Craig Steely Architecture, and it includes a glass-walled drawing studio on the roof with stunning views of the bay and the city.
Built in the 1880’s the original 3-story home was by itself on top of a hill. Over the years, as roads changed and more houses were built, the original home was extended through a series of unorganized and badly executed DIY projects. Although Steely recommended to his clients that it would be far cheaper to tear the home down and start from scratch, the couple insisted on a renovation to retain the integrity of history. So, they all set out to design the best possible house they could with the given conditions.
Besides remodeling the interior and getting rid of the mess and the dry rot, the home had to be upgraded for seismic conditions. The solution for this was to built a steel exoskeleton around the house to shore up the structure. This addition is mostly what gives the home it’s modern aesthetic coupled with larger windows. Redwood paneling from inside the home was reclaimed by the homeowner and painstakingly refinished for use as cladding on the exterior. You can see this as the white boards compared to the bright neon green part, which is the original Victorian facade.
Inside, the floorplan was reworked to make it more comfortable and to carve out another apartment on the bottom floor. A large skylight on the roof floods the kitchen with natural light, while box windows pull in more light from the sides. A new rooftop art studio was added for the husband who is an artist, which has beautiful views out across the green roof to the San Francisco skyline. Covering the roof is a large steel canopy outfitted with a solar photovoltaic system that gathers light from both the top and the bottom. The solar canopy provides additional shade from the house and prevents the kitchen from being over lit through the skylight.
The Xiao-Yen House in the Corona Heights neighborhood is neither new nor old, but somewhere in the middle. “The clients didn’t want a really modern house or a painstakingly precise renovation,” said Steely. “It’s hard to have both new and old be really strong, and not have one nullify the other.” The end result is a wonderful rehabilitation and a seriously sustainable upgrade.