Sunset District Renovation

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February 23, 2010

The residents of atelier KS's first renovation like stuff. When the couple, who lives in San Francisco's Sunset District, first invited the husband-wife design team to their home, the garage they wished to remodel was filled to the brim. "Our jaws just dropped open," Kelli Franz, the "K" of atelier KS, remembers. "We could hardly move in the space." Seth Pare-Mayer, Franz's personal and professional other half, says, "I wondered how we would measure the space." Still, the duo were able to transform the 1,000 square feet into a 500-square-foot garage and a 500-square-foot living space filled with all of the residents' wants: study, family room, guest bedroom, bathroom with a shower, laundry room, and storage space. 

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  Before founding atelier KS in the fall of 2008, Franz and Pare-Mayer both worked for accomplished San Francisco architects: Franz for Cary Bernstein and Pare-Mayer for Craig Steely. The residents of this home contacted Steely to complete the renovation but when he was unable to accept the project, he put them in touch with the husband-wife design team.
    Before founding atelier KS in the fall of 2008, Franz and Pare-Mayer both worked for accomplished San Francisco architects: Franz for Cary Bernstein and Pare-Mayer for Craig Steely. The residents of this home contacted Steely to complete the renovation but when he was unable to accept the project, he put them in touch with the husband-wife design team.
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  Homes in San Francisco's Sunset District, where this is located, are almost all two-story houses in which the first floor is a deep garage and the second floor is the living space. "We'd seen renovations in this area before and they always ended up as cave-like spaces," Pare-Mayer says. "We knew we had to do this renovation in a smart way." But first they had to get into the space.
    Homes in San Francisco's Sunset District, where this is located, are almost all two-story houses in which the first floor is a deep garage and the second floor is the living space. "We'd seen renovations in this area before and they always ended up as cave-like spaces," Pare-Mayer says. "We knew we had to do this renovation in a smart way." But first they had to get into the space.
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  The garage before renovation. "Our jaws just dropped open," Franz remembers. "The garage became a catchall for valuables and not-so-valuables." Pare-Mayer was worried that they could barely move in the garage, let alone measure it to develop plans.
    The garage before renovation. "Our jaws just dropped open," Franz remembers. "The garage became a catchall for valuables and not-so-valuables." Pare-Mayer was worried that they could barely move in the garage, let alone measure it to develop plans.
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  Franz and Pare-Mayer left the front half of the garage as a car park and went to work on the rear 500-square-foot space. "The residents had a huge list of what they wanted to have: study, guest bedroom, family room, bathroom with a shower, laundry room, storage space, and so on," Franz says. "It was like a puzzle to fit in all these little pieces." Fit them in they did, however, with the study at the bottom of the stairs wrapping around to the family room, the storage and Murphy bed wall, and the laundry room and bathroom tucked behind the stairs.
    Franz and Pare-Mayer left the front half of the garage as a car park and went to work on the rear 500-square-foot space. "The residents had a huge list of what they wanted to have: study, guest bedroom, family room, bathroom with a shower, laundry room, storage space, and so on," Franz says. "It was like a puzzle to fit in all these little pieces." Fit them in they did, however, with the study at the bottom of the stairs wrapping around to the family room, the storage and Murphy bed wall, and the laundry room and bathroom tucked behind the stairs.
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  To avoid creating a "cave-like space," the designers inserted a ten-foot-by-four-foot skylight into the ceiling above the stairs to the basement, added a large window to the back wall, and designed the space with an open plan in mind.
    To avoid creating a "cave-like space," the designers inserted a ten-foot-by-four-foot skylight into the ceiling above the stairs to the basement, added a large window to the back wall, and designed the space with an open plan in mind.
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  Before the renovation, the only access to the backyard was through the garage, which was not an easy journey to make. Now stairs lead to the backdoor and act as a light well for the skylight above.
    Before the renovation, the only access to the backyard was through the garage, which was not an easy journey to make. Now stairs lead to the backdoor and act as a light well for the skylight above.
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  The finished stair. Franz and Pare-Mayer also took advantage of the light from the skylight to brighten the bathroom: They inserted a pane of etched glass into the wall that separates the stairwell and the shower.
    The finished stair. Franz and Pare-Mayer also took advantage of the light from the skylight to brighten the bathroom: They inserted a pane of etched glass into the wall that separates the stairwell and the shower.
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  Because of cost constraints, Franz and Pare-Mayer were unable to alter the existing structure, so they designed built-in furniture and cabinetry to define and differentiate the spaces. They hired Chris Allen, of San Luis Obispo-based CWA Studios, to fabricate the pieces. At the base of the stairs is the study, where the residents' teenage daughter often finishes her homework in an Eames Aluminum Side Chair from Design Within Reach.
    Because of cost constraints, Franz and Pare-Mayer were unable to alter the existing structure, so they designed built-in furniture and cabinetry to define and differentiate the spaces. They hired Chris Allen, of San Luis Obispo-based CWA Studios, to fabricate the pieces. At the base of the stairs is the study, where the residents' teenage daughter often finishes her homework in an Eames Aluminum Side Chair from Design Within Reach.
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  Franz and Pare-Mayer originally planned to fill the rear wall with a single window, but they had to change course due to budget limitations. Instead they installed a glass door to the backyard and a single window to the right. "It ended up being way more interesting than a solid window wall," Franz says.
    Franz and Pare-Mayer originally planned to fill the rear wall with a single window, but they had to change course due to budget limitations. Instead they installed a glass door to the backyard and a single window to the right. "It ended up being way more interesting than a solid window wall," Franz says.
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  The biggest challenge of this project was cleaning out the space, Franz says. The second was that this was atelier KS's first solo project. "Suddenly you're in charge of the project and you get to--and have to--make all the decisions," Pare-Mayer says. "The learning curve is very high." The designers were given the opportunity to make all of the furniture decisions for the space and chose the Girard Table, Paulistano Armchair, and Neo Sectional Chaise from Design Within Reach for the living room. The two folding chairs were garage-clean-up finds.
    The biggest challenge of this project was cleaning out the space, Franz says. The second was that this was atelier KS's first solo project. "Suddenly you're in charge of the project and you get to--and have to--make all the decisions," Pare-Mayer says. "The learning curve is very high." The designers were given the opportunity to make all of the furniture decisions for the space and chose the Girard Table, Paulistano Armchair, and Neo Sectional Chaise from Design Within Reach for the living room. The two folding chairs were garage-clean-up finds.
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  Across from the sofa and recessed into the wall is the television and media center. Franz and Pare-Mayer had to fur out the walls to insulate the space and made them extra wide to ease the mechanical installations and allow for deep built-ins.
    Across from the sofa and recessed into the wall is the television and media center. Franz and Pare-Mayer had to fur out the walls to insulate the space and made them extra wide to ease the mechanical installations and allow for deep built-ins.
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  The designers hired a carpenter friend to craft all of the built-ins and cabinetry. Behind the wood panels at the back of the living room is a Murphy bed. The residents' teenage daughter and her band practice in front of the panels and keep their equipment in the storage areas to either side of the fold-down bed behind it. Franz and Pare-Mayer finished the room with Paolo Rizzatto's 265 lamp from Flos and the AJ Floor Lamp and Yanagi Butterfly Stool from Design Within Reach.
    The designers hired a carpenter friend to craft all of the built-ins and cabinetry. Behind the wood panels at the back of the living room is a Murphy bed. The residents' teenage daughter and her band practice in front of the panels and keep their equipment in the storage areas to either side of the fold-down bed behind it. Franz and Pare-Mayer finished the room with Paolo Rizzatto's 265 lamp from Flos and the AJ Floor Lamp and Yanagi Butterfly Stool from Design Within Reach.
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  Franz and Pare-Mayer's carpenter paid painstaking attention to detail, aligning the wood grains from cabinet door to cabinet door (right). In the shower stall (left), the etched glass wall lets in light from the skylight above the stairwell (and though it's easy to see out to the stairwell, it's hard to see into the shower). The residents like the bathroom so much that they rarely shower in the bathroom on the main floor any more.Franz and Pare-Mayer have several residential and restaurant designs in the works. For more information about them and their projects, visit their site at atelier-ks.com.
    Franz and Pare-Mayer's carpenter paid painstaking attention to detail, aligning the wood grains from cabinet door to cabinet door (right). In the shower stall (left), the etched glass wall lets in light from the skylight above the stairwell (and though it's easy to see out to the stairwell, it's hard to see into the shower). The residents like the bathroom so much that they rarely shower in the bathroom on the main floor any more.

    Franz and Pare-Mayer have several residential and restaurant designs in the works. For more information about them and their projects, visit their site at atelier-ks.com.

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