Collection by Laura C. Mallonee

One Bedroom Became Three in This Space-Efficient San Francisco Renovation


Architect Karen Curtiss of Red Dot Studio transformed a one-bedroom into a three-bedroom without increasing space.

Architect Karen Curtiss’s clients gave her only one mandate concerning the renovation of their early 20th-century cottage in San Francisco: convert the one-bedroom into a three-bedroom. The architect’s first thought was to expand, but challenges with a neighbor significantly limited the possibilities of an addition. Forced to work within the home’s existing footprint, Curtiss got creative. “My inspiration was not so much a this or a that but a how — how would it be to live there fully?” she explained. Instead of bumping out walls, she efficiently reorganized the space, increasing ceiling height on both levels by adjusting the floor plate and removing the rafters. She also introduced a central skylight that ushers light to the deepest corners of the tall, narrow structure, making it feel more spacious. In the end, she says, “I think we ended up with a better house.”

During the historical review period of the permitting process, Curtiss learned the house was previously owned by three...
Throughout the house, Curtiss mixed natural materials with industrial ones.
Though small, the kitchen feels generously bright. Its cabinets were custom-built by Bob Clausen, a local craftsman.
“Typically in close city lots, all the light comes from the front and back of the house, so that the center becomes a...
Curtiss describes the floor plan as “super efficient but with gracious moments.” Instead of maximizing room size, she...
In the master bedroom, the gable roof and balcony foster the illusion of generous space.
The master bath incorporates custom cabinets by Bob Clausen, fixtures by Grohe, Hansgrohe, and Kohler, and a sink by...
The house is also Build it Green Certified, beating the sustainability requirements of Title 24 (guidelines issued by...
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