History ReimaginedAuthor:Lindsey Shook
“Our goal is to design homes that live in a very modern way—open spaces and access to views and light—while still allowing for a variety of spaces and functions. This makes the experience in the house rich and varied,” says Stephen Sutro, founder of Sutro Architects on his firm’s doctrine to designing homes throughout California. Established in 2005, the firm has created some of the most remarkable residences and commercial spaces with many top interior designers.
For this project in San Francisco, Sutro and his team were brought in on the project by designer Ann Lowengart Interiors to breathe new life into a San Francisco home originally designed by renowned architect William Wurster of Wurster, Bernardi, Emmons. “When starting a significant renovation of a home designed by an iconic local architecture firm—Wurster, Bernardi, Emmons—we started by taking in the home as it is now and looking back to original drawings and photos along with other work by the architect,” says Sutro’s project lead Georgianna Kleman. “We had to understand the home as it was originally and in the context of Wurster’s other houses.”
The owners had lived in Pacific Heights for years, but longed for expansive Bay views. “The wife in particular had a very specific point of view,” says Lowengart. “One that included organic elements, modern silhouettes, and an extra layer of texture to make the spaces feel warm and welcoming. My goal was to develop a design that would be completely reflective of my client’s own style. I wanted to make it look like I was never there. ”
Having previously lived in London, the wife wanted this home to reflect their personal style with a nod to their previous city. The team worked with Cook Construction to gut the 4,700-square-foot, four-story home to create a a more modern flow that still honored the original design. “The home is both updated and back to its Bay Area modern roots,” says Sutro. “Opening up the plan while respecting the Wurster elements of its design provided a rewarding result.”
An elevator was moved to the interior of the home, opening the existing well to a cascade of panoramic views. Lowengart notes, “It was a massive change to move the location of the elevator but so worth it.”
The towering structure now includes a courtyard and small stacked floors that create privacy while taking advantage of the sweeping views. “We were able to almost entirely clear out the two main living floors to take advantage of the views and light and reconnect all of the floors with a new open stair,” says Kleman. “At the top bedroom level, we opened up the ceilings to the attic space and reconnected the main bedroom suite front to back with a spectacular cantilevered bay window and large windows at the main bathroom.”
“The wife is an equestrian and so we wove that through the property in some both expected and not so expected ways, the art being one,” says Lowengart on the selection of hues, clean lines and art that appease the wife’s passion. Her first reaction was “I love it, I love everything!” She’s very direct and very cut and dry. Now she still starts every conversation with “I love it! You did the best job. I love everything!” Sutro adds, “The client’s have been overwhelmingly grateful, which makes us so proud. The home really is a reflection of the family.”