Project Description2006 CHDA
Custom Renovation / Grand Award
Architect Mary Griffin had lived in this house—the oldest in Sausalito, Calif.—for 15 years by the time she remodeled it. That was enough time to give her a full appreciation for the house's finer qualities—its dignified proportions, beautiful detailing, and charming site—and to dispel any illusions regarding its flaws. The problems were typical of 19th-century houses: small rooms better arranged for staying put than for moving about, a dark interior, and inadequate access to the outdoors. The kitchen was a jury-rigged affair and the second floor offered four small bedrooms and only a single bath.
Griffin was able to put matters right without damaging the house's historic character. Much of the work consisted of removing partitions and widening and aligning door openings to facilitate circulation, improve sight lines, and channel light into the house. “A lot of it was very subtle,” she says. More assertive is an addition at the rear of the house, which replaces some shoddy 1920s-era work with a new guest suite and a brilliant Kalwall-roofed kitchen. “That was the big move,” Griffin says, “which was about getting light and sparkle into the house.” Despite its translucent skin, the structure is framed conventionally, “so it's not a high-tech look.” The low-key symmetry of the kitchen layout is also respectful of its old-house context.
Our judges responded enthusiastically. “Look at that beautiful plan,” said one. “She did all the simple things tremendously well.” Others remarked on the project's “appealing modesty” and its respectfulness to the original house. “I like it because it's not over the top. It just comes together so nicely.”