A Meticulous Renovation Turns a Run-Down House Into a Storage-Smart Gem

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By Joanne Furio / Photos by Aaron Wojack
Minute details and judiciously applied materials create a refined home in San Francisco.

Whether he’s developing a stool whose crossbar doubles as a footrest or a cell phone made from one seamless piece of metal, product designer Scott Croyle helps create objects that reflect clever design thinking. For Croyle, who currently works for a start-up and formerly was head of design and user experience for the mobile device maker HTC, such an approach involves three criteria: "simplicity, craftsmanship, and something harder to pin down: beauty through emotion," he says. Croyle kept these qualities in mind when he revamped the 1930s fixer-upper in San Francisco’s Glen Park neighborhood that he shares with his wife, Michele Godwin, a teacher who’s working on a master’s degree, and their nine-year-old son. Croyle found San Francisco–based architect Cary Bernstein through Dwell’s Design Source database and worked with her for three years, sharing ideas and refining concepts for the house. The two began by debating whether to move a wall, but grander conversations ensued, and the project became, in Croyle’s words, the ultimate example of scope creep as the parameters of the renovation became more ambitious. The result is an 1,800-square-foot residence that, through the ingenious use of natural materials and space-saving design, feels expansive. Croyle and Bernstein walk us through the design process and end product. 

A Meticulous Renovation Turns a Run-Down House Into a Storage-Smart Gem - Photo 1 of 12 - Bernstein reconfigured the entryway to the street level; guests ascend to the main living space. Ironspot clay tile and FSC-certified cedar clads the facade.

Bernstein reconfigured the entryway to the street level; guests ascend to the main living space. Ironspot clay tile and FSC-certified cedar clads the facade.


A Meticulous Renovation Turns a Run-Down House Into a Storage-Smart Gem - Photo 2 of 12 - The residence architect Cary Bernstein designed for Scott Croyle and his family is an exercise in hide-and-seek. Clever storage keeps the space clutter-free and lets the structure shine. In the entryway, drawers tuck under the mezzanine, niches hold artwork, and speakers are built in line with the cabinets.

The residence architect Cary Bernstein designed for Scott Croyle and his family is an exercise in hide-and-seek. Clever storage keeps the space clutter-free and lets the structure shine. In the entryway, drawers tuck under the mezzanine, niches hold artwork, and speakers are built in line with the cabinets.

Scott Croyle, resident: In 2007, we bought the house with the idea of renovating it. It was 940 square feet, with two bedrooms and one bathroom. What was unique about the property was that the house had open space on both sides. It is a fairly wide lot—40 feet—compared to what you typically get in San Francisco: 25 feet wide and 100 feet deep. 

A Meticulous Renovation Turns a Run-Down House Into a Storage-Smart Gem - Photo 3 of 12 - At the top of the stairs, a panorama of the Glen Park neighborhood is revealed.

At the top of the stairs, a panorama of the Glen Park neighborhood is revealed.

We didn’t need a lot of space, but the space we wanted had to feel open and generous. I didn’t want a lot of gratuitous gestures. I wanted the design to speak for itself, effortlessly, and the materials to feel purposeful and natural in their approach. 

A Meticulous Renovation Turns a Run-Down House Into a Storage-Smart Gem - Photo 4 of 12 - Croyle reclines on a Soft Dream sofa by Antonio Citterio for Flexform. The coffee table is by One & Co, where Croyle was formerly a partner, for Council, the rug is Kymo, and the side chairs are Cappellini.

Croyle reclines on a Soft Dream sofa by Antonio Citterio for Flexform. The coffee table is by One & Co, where Croyle was formerly a partner, for Council, the rug is Kymo, and the side chairs are Cappellini.

Cary Bernstein, architect: The more effortless it looks, the more work that goes into it. Not every client has the patience to go through the iterative process—to edit over and over again—to get to that result. Scott, because he works with designers who share that value system, understands that. So it was a very good fit.

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