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Old Bernal House

Feldman Architecture

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Feldman Architecture, Feldman Architecture

Project Name

Old Bernal House

Project Status


Year Completed



2,300 sq. feet

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Project Description

One of the oldest houses in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood, this 1860’s cottage sat in disrepair for years and was nearly scheduled for demolition before the clients discovered it and fell for its “diamond in the rough” quality. While the clients were weighing the value of the home, Feldman Architecture was brought in and charged with expanding and modernizing the small, dark house while maintaining the rustic charm of the original building.

From the street, the renovation to the home has minimal impact to the original façade in keeping with the ideals of the Neighborhood Association and the Historic Design Review Board. A narrow ten-foot-wide wing was added containing a garage with a bedroom above. From the backyard, the addition takes a surprising, contemporary twist - a glass tower enclosing studios/offices within a two story loft.
The roof and upper floor in the center of the house were cut away to create a light core that washes a stone wall and illuminates the kitchen and living room. In the galley kitchen and dining area, a large lift-slide door with clerestory windows creates a connection with the deck and backyard. The original rafters in the dining area were left exposed and painted, keeping costs and use of materials down and leaving a reminder of the original house. In the master bath, the countertop and bathtub are trimmed with reclaimed wood from the original house, while textural tiles, fixtures and expanded openings to the outdoors are in keeping with the warm, contemporary modern feel of the house.
The living area is made more spacious and light by cantilevering the open treads past the stair wall. Open, metal rails and cut away spaces let in light and allow for playful interactions between the upper and lower levels. Cabinets and open shelves were integrated throughout for storage and display of the couple’s evolving collection of art and artifacts. The careful mixing of rough stone and wood with glass and metal materials breathe new life into the once-neglected structure.
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