When San Francisco-based architect Craig Steely and his artist wife, Cathy Liu, bought this early 1900s Victorian building 14 years ago, it retained few original details. Because Steely was in the nascent stages of his career, his subsequent remodel of the two-unit house was done “on a shoestring budget,” he says. “We refinished the existing subfloor, I built my own cabinets, and I reused some old salvaged materials that came out of other clients' projects.”

Today the well-established Steely Architecture is known for elegant modernist custom homes and loft conversions, so when the architect needed more room for his growing family and a bigger office for his burgeoning practice, he decided to stay put in his Duboce Triangle neighborhood and to renovate the building with finer finishes. “I wanted the house to reflect my work,” he says.

The existing building consisted of a ground-floor garage, a first-floor rental unit, and a second-floor flat for Steely's family. The rental unit remains, but Steely and staffers Luigi Silverman, Seth Pare-Mayer, and Norberto Melendez opened up the second level, setting aside 600 square feet for a street-facing office and tucking two bedrooms and a bath to the rear. The team added a third level for the kitchen/living/dining area and a south-facing deck and sod patch. Now the entry staircase from downstairs leads to the second floor, where frosted glass panels separate the small foyer from the office and a large street-facing window brings precious light to four workstations.

These new interiors showcase a lush palette of materials that express Steely's sophisticated sensibilities. The kitchen cabinets have book-matched zebra wood veneers; ipe wood covers all the floors and deck; the bath vanity is made from ebony veneers; and countertops throughout are CaesarStone quartz in “Blizzard” white.

Steely used a fair amount of space for the deck and admits that he could have made the rooms bigger, but he says the reorganized, smaller interiors are more flexible. The job, he adds, “was a commitment to quality of space rather than quantity of space.”

project: Beaver Street Reprise, San Francisco

architect/general contractor: Steely Architecture, San Francisco

project size: 1,537 square feet

construction cost: Withheld

photography: Rien van Rijthoven

Continue to part 2: guiding light