A project that began as a simple kitchen remodel took on a new life when interior designer Gretchen Murdock of MODTAGE Design started to work her magic on this San Francisco loft. Housed in a historic building in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood, Murdock's firm was tasked with giving the space a contemporary update that would be defined by its meticulous attention to detail.
"The existing dwelling was done on a developers budget and lacked planning and character," says Murdock. "There was also a lot of wasted space and we wanted to reclaim some of that square footage, create better storage solutions and bring more natural light into each space".
After stripping the entire residence down to its core, Murdock began developing new plans that would make use of every available inch. "We worked closely with our builder, Jeff King and literally had crews climbing through holes in the walls to see if we could use the space beyond," says Murdock.
The project entailed entirely relocating walls and adding interior glazing while simultaneously exposing more of the beautiful brick and structural beams. "We wanted to let the brick and timber bones shine and update it for modern living while maximizing the use of space".
In the limited square footage, Murdock also created intelligent bathroom layouts for the upper and lower levels. "Reworking the space plans in the two bathrooms made a huge difference," says Murdock. Previously dark and poorly laid out bathrooms are now light filled and spacious thanks to the added transoms and full height glazing that bring in light from adjacent spaces.
The client's desire to incorporate environmentally friendly materials with minimal off-gassing was also met in every aspect of the project, from the interior of the cabinetry to paints and finishes applied throughout the home. "We used handmade and handcrafted items wherever possible to create a warm, eco-friendly and unique interior," adds Murdock. Reclaimed wood, organic linens and non-toxic upholstery completed the eco-conscious vision.
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For the dining area, Murdock called on local furniture designer Ohio Design to create a semi-custom white oak table. She added Eames chairs for a clean and crisp modern aesthetic. Matte black walls and appliance panels provide a moody juxtaposition with the brick and wooden elements.
Storage solutions were also a key element of each room's design. "The client expressed a real desire to make a proper space for everything and no detail was overlooked in designing storage solutions," Murdock adds.
For the new kitchen design, Murdock chose high gloss red lacquered cabinetry to compliment the exposed brick. A deep gray tile from Heath Ceramics was selected for the backsplash and a custom white oak bar top was designed to surround the kitchen workspace.
The wall immediately above the kitchen was opened up and replaced with a custom rail and cable system to create an airy mezzanine that lets natural light into the rooms above. Earthy materials such as the reclaimed barnwood facade were added to bring texture and warmth to the room.
In the dining room, Murdock designed a suspended lighting box made from reclaimed wood to allow the pendants to be placed closer to the dining table. A custom Lutron Homeworks system was added to control various lighting scenes. The smart system does more than just turn the lights on/off - it also can be programmed to create different lighting scenes for different purposes. Murdock adds, "We programmed various lighting scenes such as a "Cafe" scene to illuminate lighting for the walk to morning coffee and a "Baile" button to set the perfect ambiance for a living room dance session." The system also operates the motorized shades that recede into the oak fascias above each window. It was cleverly fitted with both soft light filters and complete blackout shades and can be operated from anywhere in the loft.
An open bar area was designed just off the kitchen for easy entertaining. Custom walnut shelving floats against the brick wall and pairs with modern black cabinetry below. Working with the 100 year old brickwork brought its own challenges. "The brickwork is beautiful but nothing was level, the brick undulates in and out and adds to the difficulty when you want a clean modern finish. Our fantastic team of builders took this challenge to heart and came up with solutions to address the uneven walls throughout the space," Murdock adds.
Another wooden suspension box was designed in the living room to neatly conceal the client's overhead projection screen. "There was a specific requirement for a projection screen in this space that couldn't be suspended from the double-height ceiling. We created a solution to suspend the screen from a projection box to allow viewing at the perfect height," says Murdock.
Murdock's precise attention to detail is beautifully illustrated in this custom cabinetry and shows how a variety of natural woods and painted surfaces work together in this space. The cabinetry was designed with a subtle reveal to float above the floors and provide a sense of lightness.
Murdock also redesigned the loft's stairwell with open risers, however there were design challenges to overcome here as well. "Due to the varied nature of the reclaimed material, there were several large cracks that we needed to address both aesthetically and structurally. The team came up with beautiful solutions to minimize the appearance of imperfections and address all the stability issues," says Murdock.
King's team added a series of bow ties underneath the stairs to enhance their stability - a discreet but effective solution for this open stairwell.
Above the great room lies the bedroom where Murdock designed an integrated oak headboard, nightstand and open closet system to free up as much space as possible. "The open closet was previously buried unused space with a gyp wall concealing the beauty beyond, but its installation was an engineering and installation feat! The angled beams with rounded edges were another challenge that made it difficult to install the floating shelves. In the end, the installation looks effortless thanks to Jeff and his fantastic team", Murdock adds.
The transom window above and the adjacent full height glazing allow light to filter into the bathroom beyond. Integrated bedside lighting can pivot to either side for better night time reading.
The original bathroom was poorly planned and when Murdock opened up its walls she discovered unused space that could be reclaimed. As a result, the upper bathroom that once housed only a small stand up shower and vanity now includes a free standing bath, open shower and double vanity. Ceramic tiles in beautiful ocean and sky blues bring soothing colors to the space where Murdock added a custom teak border and shelving above the tub. Integrated shelving and custom cubbies were also added for much needed storage. A wall hung toilet opens up the space even further.
The master bathroom was devoid of natural light so Murdock added floor to ceiling glazing to the corner of the shower to bring light into the space. An overhead transom was also designed to bring natural light in from the adjacent bedroom. "Due to the building and HOA requirements, we could not add additional exterior windows and openings. We had to get creative in order to bring natural lighting into these spaces, " says Murdock.
The upper bathroom also features an innovative set of triple sliding doors that Murdock designed to enlarge the door's opening and continue to bring light into the space. "We did not find any suitable options from manufacturers and came up with a completely custom solution for this door," says Murdock.
The sliding doors can be closed for more privacy when guests are visiting, but they continue to let light into the bathroom thanks to their airy glass panelled design.
The lower bathroom was transformed as well and Murdock added another glass panel to this space to bring in light from the window in the adjacent room. The mustard yellow tile from Heath Ceramics adds a fun pop of color and Murdock's tile layouts were meticulously planned to seamlessly intersect with adjacent materials and cabinetry.
Wall mounted faucets add yet another space saving element to the bathrooms.
The existing arched windows let natural light stream into the home and greet visitors with a contemporary coat rack and custom entry bench. A 1/2 inch thick cork floor brings a soft touch to this space.
The thin steel floating shelves in the kitchen were a happy design accident. "We originally planned for a wooden shelving system, but when the steel brackets were installed we fell in love with them and they stayed," says Murdock. "We custom milled a tongue in groove finish to the barnwood to add warmth and interest to the shelving area."
"Every detail was considered on this project, right down to where and how we'd display the spices in the kitchen," says Murdock. "We pay attention to the tiniest details in all our projects to create one of a kind interiors that are truly personalized for each client."
It's meticulous attention to details like these that keep Murdock's clients coming back for more.