A Twisted Victorian in San Francisco

At their first meeting, the owners of this 1,500-square-foot flat in San Francisco made it a point to tell architect Karen Curtiss that what they wanted to do to their home didn't make financial sense. "They knew they could buy a house with the money they planned to spend on the condo," Curtiss says. "However, they didn't want to move. They love their neighbors, the coffee shop on the corner and urban life. They wanted to stay put." Their desire was to recreate the space as a home that was both sophisticated and (sometimes darkly) witty. For the project, Curtiss assembled a team of creative craftspeople and designers and called upon her own inner naturalist. The result is a project she dubbed Victorian Second Nature. It's a home that might not add up in terms of expenditures, but for the irreverent couple who lives here, the pay off is huge.

Mary Jo Bowling

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