An old Noe Valley cottage is transformed into a modern urban retreat with a massive wine cellar to boot.

What San Francisco complicates with limited parking and tricky slopes, it makes up for with stunning views of the Bay. That’s exactly the attitude a Noe Valley neighborhood homeowner brought to her remodel. San Francisco–based firm Studio VARA was contracted to transform a 1908 cottage with a history of incohesive alterations into a beautiful, practical 3,500-square-foot space. The all-female architectural/engineering team’s careful attention to detail paid off with a comfortable urban retreat that equally reflects the history of the original cottage and the homeowner’s needs.

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Studio VARA explains “the project’s success lies in the judicious use of carefully executed moments," such as wood screen that recreates the privacy of now-trimmed tree branches. Studio VARA also cites a "subtle palette of ‘warm’ mixed with ‘cool’ that recurs in both tone and materials: wood juxtaposed with glass, metal against stone.”

The architects wanted to create as much of a buffer as possible against the urban traffic outside the kitchen. A clerestory window manages to maintain a visual connection with the neighborhood while blocking its noise. The kitchen features Pleat Box pendant lights from Marset and Lio Stools by Roberto Barbieri for Zanotta.

Sleek Wolf and Sub-Zero appliances, along with Caesarstone countertops, complete the kitchen.

A wall of custom cabinetry unifies the kitchen and living room. The dining room features a Jiff Dining Table from Flexform as well as EL chairs by Antonio Citterio for B&B Italia.

This staircase connects the common area to the guest suites above and the wine cellar below. The interplay of glass and metal on the handrails is a one of the architects’ favorite details.

The clean symmetry of the master bathroom is enhanced by Ann Sacks ceramic Savoy tiles and Lefroy Brooks fixtures.

A folding window wall opens onto the East-facing deck, creating an ideal indoor/outdoor common area. The living room features a Ligne Roset Feng sofa and custom Tai Ping carpet.

One of the biggest talking points of the home is its cork-floored wine cellar. Originally the garage, it was converted to accommodate the homeowner’s sprawling collection. The thermal mass of the surrounding earth keeps the space cool.

In contrast with the closed street-facing facade, the East-facing facade dramatically opens to expansive views of the Bay.

  • Studio VARA