December 28, 2015
Historic homes may offer a unique sense of vintage flair that is highly sought after and frequently recreated, but they often come at a price that derives from the very element that makes them so desirable – their age. For this Edwardian flat in San Francisco, Andrew Mann, principal of locally based Andrew Mann Architecture, was tasked with adapting a kitchen to suit its owners’ modern sensibilities.
“The clients wanted a contemporary space within a traditional house,” said Mann. “My design aesthetic is always rooted in creating clean, simple spaces with crisp details enhanced by a sophisticated play on natural light.”
Despite its new-fashioned reimagining, the kitchen remains timeless with a limited palette of natural materials, such as wood, stone and ceramic tiles – the latter of which now comprises the backsplash behind a commercial-style range added to accommodate the clients’ penchant for cooking. A second oven was also inset among full-height American white oak cabinetry that provides ample storage with spice pull-outs located between the upper cabinets and countertop.
“Given the challenges of working within the confines of a narrow San Francisco building, we worked to expand the feel of the kitchen and maximize the cabinetry’s efficiency,” he explained.
Pushed into adjacent spaces, the room’s full-height storage walls include a pantry on one side and a broom closet along the opposite wall where the primary refrigerator sits.
Two in One
“Both loved to cook and wanted to open the kitchen to the dining room for entertaining in a more casual manner, but unfortunately the flat wasn’t designed for entertaining,” said Mann. “The other major goal was to introduce more natural light. Given the row house configuration, the kitchen only received illumination from a window in the light well.”
To accomplish both goals, Mann merged the kitchen and adjacent dining room – where classic elements feature more prominently in contrast to the nouvelle-style cooking space – with a newly added opening that improves circulation and allows natural light to permeate both spaces.
“We maintained the wall between the kitchen and dining room to keep the sense of the traditional architecture intact,” said Mann, who maintained original wood molding, built-in cabinetry and a fireplace fronted with tile in the dining room. “The kitchen island was treated as the element that balanced the traditional and modern vocabulary of the two spaces.”
To create a layered visual effect, three sides of the island now reference dining room walls with the same white board-and-batten paneling.
Black soapstone tops the modular structure and surrounding counters, providing additional cooking space for two. This material also appears in an adjacent bar area, which is accessible through an open doorway that features a stained glass transom window in homage to the flat’s historic ambience.
“It’s a clever use of space that puts ingredients in a well-lit location where they are in arm’s reach while cooking,” said Mann. “The highlight of the design is the simplicity in which it solves their pragmatic needs to create a light-filled and functional space.”
Designer: Andrew Mann, Andrew Mann Architecture
Photographer: David Wakely Photography
Backsplash Tile: Heath Ceramics, M63 Fog color
Countertops: Sierra Black Soapstone
Cabinetry (Kitchen): Brilliant Furnishings, Inc.
Paint: Benajmin Moore, Ultra-Spec
Pendant lights: Beat Light by Tom Dixon