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.”