San Francisco: A Modern house with a touch of Jazz Music
This is the kind of modern house that we all would like to have! From the very entrance of this four-story home in San Francisco’s Glen Park neighborhood, you can notice that is something special in here. The matte-gray exterior of cypress wood, charred using the Japanese shou sugiban technique, is sober and buttoned-down. But the vestibule is lined in sleek glass panels back painted racecar-red and framed in mirror-polished chrome. This is the place you will certain like to get to know better. Let’s take a look inside?
This is the first residence of a 30-something entrepreneur, who bought what was a developer-built spec house in 2012. Over the course of two and a half years, his close friend and design advisor, Akemi Tamaribuchi, had collaborated with the architect Cass Calder Smith to transform the 4,000-square-foot abode into a completely customized hangout for social gatherings and work meetings alike.
“The client was looking for a sense of simplicity and freshness, as well as fun and delight,” says Tamaribuchi.
The resulting spaces, luminous and gallerylike, are punctuated by exuberant bursts of color, strong expressions of materiality, and inspiring views of—and access to—the outdoors.
The house, just a few years old, had been built in a style that Smith, who splits his time between CCS Architecture’s San Francisco and New York offices, refers to as “contractor modern”: streamlined but not finely detailed, with standard-issue baseboards, casings, doors, and hardware.
“The site and the views were beautiful, but the house wasn’t on par with them,” he says.
To tie together the four floors and infuse the interior with vertical energy, he opened up the stairwell and designed a floating stair. From the second floor up, the zigzag profile, visible through a glass balustrade, has the impact of an art installation.
Says Smith, “We thought about all the time that people spend going up and down the stairs”—the living area and kitchen are on the top floor, with the best views—“and what we could do to make that experience more interesting.”
The design team also went about refining the spaces to create a calm and seamless background. The glass doors and many of the solid ones go right up to the ceiling; the baseboards and outlets are flush with the walls; there are no casings on the doors or windows. As a counterpoint to the white sheetrock, wide-plank reclaimed Douglas fir was selected for flooring. The white-stained wood, replete with rustic knots and imperfections, was one of the trickiest parts of the project to get right, according to Tamaribuchi.
“We must have looked at more than 100 samples,” she says. “The client wanted a sense of lightness, but everything that was light looked fake—you couldn’t see the character of the wood”.
“On an art-buying trip to London, we saw this flooring in the Saatchi Gallery and immediately knew that was it.” The warm material also clads the wall from which the staircase cantilevers.
Tamaribuchi took the lead on furniture and artwork selection. (Her seven-person company, Subject to Change, provides a holistic range of lifestyle services, including interior design, personal styling, party planning, and concierge.)
For this particular client, who “wears a hoodie and flip-flops one day and a wild and crazy Dolce & Gabbana suit the next,” as she describes, the appropriate decor turned out to be bold yet casual.
For a home in San Francisco, it made sense to pay a similar level of attention to elevating the outdoor spaces. Local landscape design firm Sculpt Gardens tamed the backyard’s wild hillside with a series of board-formed concrete retaining walls. The resulting terraces each have their own attraction: an outdoor kitchen and fire pit, a hot tub, a sunning area with chaise lounges.
“It’s a contemplative place, where everything slows down,” says Smith. The curved walls are treated with whiteboard paint, allowing for spontaneous doodling, leaving a friendly message—or jotting down ideas for a new business.
PROJECT NAME: CCS Architecture and Subject to Change Jazz Up a Party-Ready San Francisco Pad
LOCATION: San Francisco
FIRM: CCS Architecture; Subject to Change
SQ. FT: 4,000 SQF
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