AHouse with Two Faces
A Bold Renovation
In San Francisco’s Alamo Square, the site of the world-famous “postcard row” of painted ladies, Jensen Architects brought a classic three-story Victorian into the 21st century, fusing historic restoration with a uniquely bold design. The client, who also was the builder, welcomed innovation, setting the stage for an ambitious collaboration. The result: a distinguished Victorian neighbor dramatically reconceived for contemporary family life, at once proudly traditional and confidently modern.
Tradition Meets Innovation
The first task was to uncover and restore the home’s original 1889 façade, long obscured by a disfiguring layer of wood shingles. A specialist faithfully restored the Victorian details, recreating many elements from photographs, remaining details and historical knowledge. Selecting the color scheme for the facade posed more of a dilemma. Instead of following the lead of the home’s colorful neighbors or the more recent trend of going all dark, Jensen proposed a subtly metallic silver to graciously set the house apart. The silver also offers a nod to its counterpoint, a new rear façade of sliding, laser-cut aluminum screens and glass.
Let There Be Light
Inside Jensen opened the original narrow layout and let daylight flood in at every opportunity. Laminated glass encloses the home’s elevator, exposing the mechanical parts and introducing a light well on the entry level.
The entry level also hosts the bedrooms, while living areas fill the upper floor, an expansive space where light pours in from the windows and central skylight. Open and airy, it couldn’t feel less like an old-world Victorian.