Anticipating their return from New York City, this young couple bought a house built hastily after the Oakland Fire of 1991. It had significant dry rot, a cave-like entry, an awkward layout and took little advantage of its large site and sweeping views. The whole house renovation addresses these problems and meets the needs of their growing family. The architect cut a circulation spine through the main living levels, creating transparency, capturing views, connecting the top floor to garden with a bridge, relocating the kitchen, and adding a new entry with floating stair. New skylights flood formerly dark spaces with light and transom windows share the light with other rooms. Existing wood beams (stripped of plywood cladding) reveal the structure, define the spaces, and add warmth to the now open plan. The level above the garage serves as home base for visiting friends and extended family. Green building strategies include working within the existing structure, salvaging demolition materials, using soy based foam and recycled denim insulation, a chase for future solar, radiant heating, reclaimed wood shelves, locally produced tile, and FSC certified framing materials throughout.
“MDA blends clean simple lines with an overall warmth. Too often modern seems to equal cold, but Malcolm manages to make modern warm without compromising the aesthetic in any way. In our case, we were remodeling a house that we knew would have killer views, but the existing design did not capitalize on those. When we first set foot in the house after the new window holes had been cut, we were blown away with how it changed the entire feel of the house. I think Malcolm did an excellent job maximizing the light and the views, while cleverly blocking sight lines that ran into neighbor’s houses. It feels like we are the only ones on the hillside here, although the house sits closely to neighbors on both sides. We undertook this renovation while we were still living across the country in New York, and so for us it was the trust of just knowing that his aesthetic so matched our own that we didn’t need to ever worry about a detail or finish being overlooked or done differently than we would have liked. For us, hiring Malcolm felt very natural. Every photo we saw of his work and every example we toured just resonated with us. It had the look and feel we knew we wanted in our house, a modern clean, natural aesthetic that exudes warmth.”
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