With three children and two pets in tow, the McDougals found their family’s active lifestyle and love of entertaining at odds with the dark and cramped layout of their historic San Francisco home. In search of a light-filled renovation, the couple turned to local architect Beverly Choe of BACH Architecture to help realize their dream dwelling without breaking the bank.
Yet the home's renovation and expansion did more than deliver daylight and a spacious feel—the key to the redesign is an innovative "Megacabinet" that unites the home’s three floors with built-in functionality ranging from storage to a hidden reading nook.
"A typical cabinet is passive: It sits at the edge of a room and holds stuff," Choe says. "The Megacabinet aspires to be an active element that controls views, guides movement and elicits delight...while also holding stuff."
The inspiration behind the Megacabinet came from Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House. Choe explains: "He packed all the service spaces (like the kitchen, bathroom, fireplace) of the building into a singular volume in the middle of the house. This inner cube is like a piece of cabinetry on steroids."
"I wanted to explore this kind of multiplicity in a more vertical fashion at the new stair. All we really needed was a simple guardrail, but with the clients' storage needs and appreciation of play, I wondered if a single element could anchor the circulation of the house and also push the idea of what a cabinet can do. I tried to pack many of the typical architectural elements (wall, window, door, furniture) into a single cabinet."
Built by Greg Bergere and his team at Go build, the Megacabinet is made of plywood and finished with blue paint.
Beverly adds: "The interior designer, Steve Somogyi, (of steve+filip design) also played an
important role during the design development of the Megacabinet, investigating compositional ideas and exploring the two sided-ness of the cabinet."
The team built out the rear of the home with a contemporary addition. Two new decks and the excavation of the entire basement provide much-needed breathing room.
"Through a spirited and thoughtful exploration of cabinetry in the domestic realm, this project aims to weave delight into everyday life," Choe says.
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