The San Francisco midcentury gem that is Beacon House has an interesting origin story. Built in the 1960s to the era’s modernist architecture style, full of wood, soft light and open spaces, it is now the family home of an architect and a biologit, who one day, walking down the street, saw it and joked that this would be their ideal home. Their dream soon became a reality when the residence went on the market, and the couple quickly snapped it up. They then went to family friend Vivian Lee of architecture studio Edmonds + Lee, to help with the renovation.
Beacon House: a modernist renovation story
‘[The decision] was all heart, no head,’ the clients explained. The space had been lovingly preserved by the previous owners, yet still required modernisation, which the architects had to tackle cleverly, considering the home’s relatively compact size (compared to the typical residence the studio has worked on in the past). Lee quickly shifted her approach to what she calls a ‘jewel box’ scale.
The architecture team proceeded, making small alterations and surgical interventions, respecting the home’s existing overall character. This meant revisiting the programmatic connections between spaces – switching, for example, the primary bedroom for an office. Clever changes, such as creating a rather ‘compressed’ foyer that gives way to a dramatic, expanded double-height space beyond, enhance the living experience, adding Frank Lloyd Wright notes. The effect was further defined by a bespoke lighting design plan by Fisher Marantz Stone.
‘We wanted to respect and keep the original redwood ceiling, which became a catalyst for the rest of the house,’ one of the clients said, emphasizing the entire team’s inclination to keep it simple, if not limited to the material palette that draws on Beacon House’s roots.
The fruitful collaboration resulted in a home that feels warm and comfortable, but also impressive in its drama and historic identity. It was a team effort, the architects explained. “There’s nothing more rewarding than working with another design professional,” Lee says. ‘They can really understand your ideas – and they tend to be more critical, so when you get it right, it’s rewarding.’
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