This Noe Valley home, renovated by Amoroso Design, is full of surprises. From the front, it has a classic San Francisco Bay area Victorian facade. The home appears to be two rooms wide and has the appearance of being one story high. However, once you go through the front door, you will not believe you are in a Victorian home. Instead of a warren of dark paneled rooms and oppressive fixtures and mouldings, you are welcomed in with light, airy, contemporary spaces. Even the roof, which appears flat from the front, provides a cathedral ceiling inside.
The transformation from the front yard to the backyard is perhaps the most dramatic. If given a picture of each facade, you would probably never guess that the two were part of the same house. The backyard is a full two stories, with four sets of glass double doors that look out onto a glorious backyard. The backyard is a secret urban oasis that standing on the street, you'd never know was there.
The designer, Shelly Amoroso
used a lot of tricks to keep this house full of light and to make it the interiors appear spacious and open. Thus, they have deemed the house "Light-hearted Victorian." Lucky for us, Shelly agreed to spill to us how she accomplished this!
Shelly, obviously this house has a long history. What condition was the house in when you began the renovation?
The last time a permit had been pulled for anything other than a minor roof repair was 1927 or 1929! Needless to say...the house needed some love. Many of the original moldings and architectural details had been stripped away or painted so many times since it was built in 1890 that the details were lost! I started calling it the cupcake house as it was so yummy but needed frosting.
What elements from the original building were you able to preserve?
I kept the original facade and front windows and all of the details/moldings but painted it in a more modern way by painting all the gingerbread and vertical details a bright white. Usually in San Francisco, backgrounds are painted in a contrast color from the details, but I did not want to highlight the various pieces; I wanted something more textural.
The bright white felt reminiscent of a dramatic East Coast Victorian a la the movie "Practical Magic!"
I love the house in that movie! What did the renovation entail?
The standard central hallway Victorian floor plan leaves something to be desired in today's modern living. I closed the front parlor off from the second room which was the bedroom (the original pocket doors were gone.) I made the front two rooms into
bedrooms but added 8' high pocket doors for floor plan flexibility. I then opened up what was the bedroom and dining room to the kitchen for a large great room. Yay for me that the ceiling above the living room was vaulted and not flat...so I could take advantage of the height! The living space was only upstairs when the home was purchased...but the full floor plan existed on the first floor... It wasn't then garage and storage. I framed out and enclosed the garage then created a master suite that opens to the backyard and another full bedroom suite- bedroom and bathroom. I enclosed the exterior staircase to connect the two stories...Voila! A four bedroom three bath house! Also, I added a full bath upstairs. It had been added to the then-kitchen in the 20's. I brought it to the interior of the house. You can see all the before, afters and drawings on my website!
Can you please tell us a little bit about your clients? What did they wish to get out of the renovation?
It was super-important to maintain the architectural integrity of the house yet make it livable for today's lifestyle, using the best possible materials in
the most living and respectful way. Homes this old need time, love and respect...
Like your grandmother!
Obviously, light was very important. How were you able to achieve such a light and airy feel throughout the interior?
I put in as many windows as possible. Taking the lead from the existing front windows, I played with the scale of the windows by getting the sills down as low as possible. I used large base, case and crown but painted them the same white of the walls - Benjamin Moore decorator white (it has a drop of gray for a deeper, more interesting white).
I would never have guessed that the large, two-story facade on the back of the house went with the compact-appearing, 1.5 story front facade! What condition was the backyard in? It's such a wonderful secret urban oasis now!
Thank you!! The backyard was a mass of overgrown weeds with no hardscape to demarcate furniture areas from planted areas. It was important to have the large hardscape area in the center for parties and lounging, leaving the perimeter for planting and privacy screening.
Thanks so much for taking the time to share this with us Shelly! Without further ado, let's take a look at this fabulous house!