Fixer Upper


KPa+d opens up a traditional Mediterranean home in West Portal.

The staircase railings were customized by Foyer Screen Metal Work: AMFK Stainless Steel. Photos by Mikiko Kikuyama.

“The house was in poor condition—a real fixer-upper—with small kitchens and bathrooms, a strange and sub-standard bedroom on the roof, and a home-made room in the basement,” says Karin Payson of KPa+d on the recent overhaul of a 3,600 square foot home in San Francisco’s West Portal neighborhood. Built in 1938, the home had great bones which gave Payson and her team a foundation to realize a much more modern structure with an open floor plan. “The idea was to gut the house and expand it from within, taking advantage of the poorly developed lower level and some of the wasted inside while minimizing changes to the visible exterior,” notes Payson.

Vibrant blue tile from Heath Ceramics delivers a powerful yet soothing punch in the kitchen. Photos byMikiko Kikuyama.

The clients have two children and needed a home that could cater to their active lifestyle while also equipped to house elderly parents and their collection of art. KPa+d worked with John Neill and the JLN Builders team to bring the clients’ vision to life.

Payson speaks about her process, “The first thing that I look at is the site—its topography and context, and then I look for a pattern in the floor plan, an opportunity to make a “parti” or clean diagram:  Can this building have a rational architectural idea that works in three-dimensions—in other words, an elegant floor plan and section with no wasted space?”

Once the modified floor plan was in place, the team focused on giving each space an identity by understanding the flow. Great attention was then placed upon maximizing the use of natural light and bringing elements of the outdoors in. “I believe that using these intellectual tools in pursuit of solving the clients’ goals is key to giving them a place to inhabit that is both delightful and useful,” says Payson.

Each room takes advantage of the city’s beautiful views.
Photos byMikiko Kikuyama.

The finished result is an urban oasis where the family can escape the hustle and bustle while appreciating the vast city views. Payson notes about the remodeled dwelling, “You only really glimpse it from outdoors, and once inside, the house is filled with light, there is a clear and natural division between the public rooms and the private spaces, and all flow easily into each other.”