That Lofty Feeling


Interior designer Gretchen Murdock of MODTAGE design invigorates a San Francisco loft for a bachelor

A new steel beam with a custom fitted trolley allows the punching bag to be easily tucked away when the space is used for yoga or when overnight guests arrive to use the murphy bed. 

“I love the juxtaposition of modern and vintage,” says Gretchen Murdock, who nodded to this mix when she named her company, Modtage design. It’s a blend she brought into this San Francisco home. The building, constructed in 1906, had been converted into lofts in 2009. Murdock incorporated that history into her design, pairing the building’s historic architectural elements, including rough brick and timber, with modern clean-lined custom cabinetry and furnishings.

The red cabinet hue was chosen to add a pop of color while not competing with the brick tones.

“The kitchen became a central element of the design,” says Murdock. In fact, it was this room that been the jumping off point for the entire project. “We began with the goal of transforming it into a more usable and high-end space. Once the client realized the impact that our new kitchen design would have on his daily life, he asked us to extend our scope and that lead to a full, “to the studs”, renovation.”

Thin steel shelves float from the wall, providing a space for Heath Ceramics dinnerware. 

“One of the challenges we faced was that the brick and timber building had been retrofit to include angled steel beams, some of which had been hidden behind drywall.”

The transom above the bed helps to bring natural light to the bathroom.

The home’s compact square footage prompted MODTAGE to open up the walls in order to capture as much space as possible. “We were able to install a full closet and expose more of the beautiful brick.” But this decision came with its own challenges. “It’s no small feat to architect a floating shelving system around beams that penetrate through at various points,” says Murdock.

Bringing light into the space was also a consideration. “The HOA requirements prevented us from adding exterior windows and openings so we had to get creative.” Interior glazing enable Murdock to coax natural light into windowless rooms, like the bathroom, from adjacent rooms. “It made all the difference,” she enthuses.  Consider the master bathroom where a unique entry that uses a system of three stacked doors, punctuated by frosted glazing, ensures the room remains light even when the doors are closed.

The master bathroom borrows light from the window at the master bedroom through the use of the sidelight in the shower as well as the upper transom glazing. The custom designed vanity floats, keeping a lightness to the space. Wall tiles by Heath Ceramics. Stone floor tiles change size when entering the shower zone.

In the living room, a faux beam creates a more intimate space while providing a hidden compartment for both a projection screen and bookshelf lighting. 

The result is a space that client described in one word: “Wow!” “It reflected exactly what he had wanted while being even more than he had imagined,” says Murdock. In fact, despite the fact that it was intended to be a forever home, it so brilliantly supported the client and allowed him to flourish that it brought love into his life; he’s now moving out of state and the home is currently on the market with Jason Buttorf of Compass Realty.

The open pantry nestles in below the staircase and adjacent to the concealed Subzero refrigerator.