One of our favorite projects from last weekend’s AIA Home Tours was a stunning historic victorian that was constructed in San Francisco’s Cole Valley in 1896, weathered the trippy 60’s and 70’s, and was recently renovated by Mork-Ulnes Design. The beautiful renovation tempers the warp and warble of the home’s eclectic past with pops of modern scandinavian design, the extensive use of salvaged materials reclaimed from the building, and skylights that suffuse the interior spaces in daylight.

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Mork-Ulnes Design Principal Casper Ulnes told us that the Clayton street victorian was originally constructed in 1896 and was formerly a women’s boarding house. In the 60’s and 70’s it became steeped the hippie culture (Haight street is a few short blocks away) and was extensively renovated with large edwardian windows, murals of goddesses, and other eclectic elements, creating what Capser calls a “victorian hippie vernacular”.

The modern renovation sought to “meld the layers of history” and “maintain the aura that had developed from 1896 to the present”, infusing the home with a modern scandinavian aesthetic while keeping much of the building’s character intact. Case in point: one bathroom features a beautiful stained glass window that was installed in the 60’s after being salvaged from a closed church.

Upon entering the home we found ourselves in a light-suffused living room flush with classic mid-century modern furniture (check out that Eames rocker), a reclaimed wood swing built by Law Nick Damner, and a beautiful staircase crafted from the building’s douglas fir attic floorboards. These boards were salvaged, planed and sanded, and then glued together piece-by-piece to form a butcher-block stairway. Reclaimed wood from the attic was also used for the building’s window trim and the flooring of a bridge that joins the residence’s lofted spaces.

The lofted areas contain the residence’s living quarters. The space is punctuated by frequent skylights that bathe the airy modern interior in daylight, while the occasional exposed brick wall lets the building’s past shine through. In carrying out the renovation Mork-Ulnes Design used recycled denim insulation within the walls, no-voc finishes, and sourced the work of local cabinet makers. As a whole the home feels comfortably lived-in, vibrant, and full of history – it’s a project that celebrates the past while looking towards the future.

+ Mork-Ulnes Design

+ AIA Architecture and the City Festival 2009