using deep earthy tones, kallos turin breathes new life into a 1920s san francisco home

using deep earthy tones, kallos turin breathes new life into a 1920s san francisco home

step inside the renovated pacific heights house in san francisco

 

San Francisco- and London-based architecture studio Kallos Turin’s latest residential project takes shape as the extension and renovation of its co-founder Abigail Turin’s home. A modernist who trained with British architect and Pritzker Prize winner Sir David Chipperfield, Abigail never imagined living in a 1925 Italianate House in San Francisco‘s Pacific Heights. But after returning to the city from London in 2000, she and her husband, Jonathan Gans, found themselves in love with this dwelling’s elegant floor plan, secret south-facing garden, and massive Eucalyptus tree that surrounds the plot of land. Over time, the architect completed two major renovations of her Pacific Heights residence, which you can read in detail below.

using deep earthy tones, kallos turin breathes new life into a 1920s san francisco home
all images © Sang An (unless stated otherwise)

 

 

kallos turin preserves the ‘garden house’ experience

 

The first renovation by Kallos Turin’s co-founder (see more here) happened in the aughts, allowing Abigail to transform the residence enough so that she and Gans could move in and start a family. But over the years, it became clear they had an opportunity to create a whole garden level by excavating. The steeped sloped conditions in this hilly city often lead to an excavated lower level with glazing on one side, usually resulting in a dwelling that reads as two stories on the uphill side and three stories on the downhill side – creating tall facades looming over smaller gardens. The original 1920s Pacific Heights project did not present such a condition and instead read as a smaller home set within a larger landscape – a garden house in a city. 

using deep earthy tones, kallos turin breathes new life into a 1920s san francisco home
a Pedro Reyes hand sculpture sits in the niche at the end of the pool

 

 

expanding with lower level additions

 

The architect was clear about preserving this fundamental experience and, therefore, focused on excavating a lower level as a horizontal garden expansion rather than a vertical house extension. The level was built as a concrete plinth on which the 1920s house sits. This plinth was then densely planted with creeping fig and draping passion vines to expose very little concrete. In this way, Abigail could preserve the scale of a two-story architecture set within a garden. The upper terrace off the main level was also densely planted using raised planters and cables to allow vines to wrap the edge. The original weathered wooden deck was reused, so the terrace still feels like it sits on soil within a garden– rather than a paved patio on top of a structure below. This new lower level includes an office, sitting room, small gallery, ‘cabinet of curiosities,’ spa, bathroom, and extensive wine room, offering a more cave-like and earthy feel than the original upper floors.

using deep earthy tones, kallos turin breathes new life into a 1920s san francisco home
table and chairs by Robert Stadler on the upper garden terrace

 

 

reflecting the landscape’s deep green and earthy quality

 

The materials used on this level all connect to the landscape’s deep green and earthy quality with pebbled blocks of Ceppo di Gre stone, dark walnut surfaces, gray plaster walls, deep green fabrics, and Verde Alpi marble. Kallo Turin’s approach to modernism combines minimalist detailing using natural materials so that the natural nuances of the materials become the focus. The artist Martyn Thompson was commissioned to make a mottled green and gray printed linen for the drapes — so that the drapes emulate the dappled light and colors of the garden and have the same marked quality as the Ceppo di Gre and the plastered walls. Meanwhile, grey pebbles in the garden tie to the pebbled pattern on the Ceppo floor. The spa bathroom and stairs are wrapped in Ceppo and detailed so they feel carved out of the rocky ground. The same stone is used throughout the new kitchen to connect it to this new level.

using deep earthy tones, kallos turin breathes new life into a 1920s san francisco home
lower level seating area with direct views to the garden, pool, and cabana

 

 

eclectic art & furniture take over the pacific heights residence

 

In both renovations, the architect tried to preserve what was great about the 1920s house while stripping away the details added in the 70s and 80s. Over the years, she embraced many of the home’s original elements — the French doors, ornamental ironwork, and decorative mantle. Those have been carefully preserved. The tension between Turin’s modernist approach and the home’s historic detailing became a project theme. With her remarkable collections of modern and contemporary art and furniture, she has created a dialogue between the traditional backdrop of the house and the edgier, less-expected insertions. She plastered the living room, which faces the street, in dark grey Roman clay to emphasize the way the house is darker at the front and becomes brighter towards the back. The floors are stained black to provide a more abstract ground plane.

using deep earthy tones, kallos turin breathes new life into a 1920s san francisco home
the stone used in the kitchen is Ceppo di Gre

 

 

The rest of the ground floor and the second floor have bright white walls that become the background for a mixture of furnishings and art that she and Gans collected together, inherited from family, or that Turin herself designed. Italian modernism is prevalent in the design. From the early years of Kallos Turin, the firm’s co-founders gravitated to the whimsical, while still rigorous, quality of Milanese designers from Gio Ponti to B.B.P.R. and Piero Portaluppi. The importance of Milan was a reference in both renovations of the house. The exterior color comes from analyzing colors along the streets of Milan. The vintage furniture collection is predominately Italian from the 50s and 60s. The Ceppo di Gre was discovered while walking the streets of Milan in the early aughts – it is the stone used on facades throughout the city. Particular attention was also paid to how plants and architecture intertwine in the Italian city.

 

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Kallos Turin’s founder approached the interior’s design like she approached collecting art. Her interest was less about designing spaces around a specific activity and more about using existing pieces meaningful to her and finding pieces to collect from architects and designers she has admired over time. These pieces are curated loosely and often get moved around. The Italian word for furniture is “mobile,” meaning anything mobile or not attached to the wall. Turin has always appreciated the idea that shifting things around or between rooms is a way to see them freshly again and to create opportunities for different uses. A setup for movie night one evening can become a casual dinner party or a lecture the next. Throughout the home, one picks up on Abigail’s belief that too much tastefulness often leads to ‘dead spaces.’ Although her collections have extraordinary pedigree and demonstrate her encyclopedic knowledge of contemporary art and design, she doesn’t play it safe. Every room has moments of surprise. Throughout the renovation journey, Abigail worked closely with local architect Jones Haydu and contractor Upscale Construction.

using deep earthy tones, kallos turin breathes new life into a 1920s san francisco home
eclectic artworks take over the Kallos Turin-designed house

using deep earthy tones, kallos turin breathes new life into a 1920s san francisco home
Ceppo di Gre stairs feel carved out of the earth

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the 1920s house sits on a new concrete plinth
the 1920s house sits on a new concrete plinth
Marco Zanuso chairs, Gino Sarfatti chandelier, 1950s Italian bar | image © Shade Degges
Marco Zanuso chairs, Gino Sarfatti chandelier, 1950s Italian bar | image © Shade Degges
lower level powder room echoing Gio Ponti faucets
lower level powder room echoing Gio Ponti faucets
With Hope neon light by Glenn Ligon
With Hope neon light by Glenn Ligon
a niche carved into the wall where the excavation began
a niche carved into the wall where the excavation began
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Abigail designed the Verdi Alpi wine room doorhandles
Abigail designed the Verdi Alpi wine room doorhandles
front entry showing new steel-and-glass arched doors
front entry showing new steel-and-glass arched doors
entry vestibule features a Tomaso Buzzi for Venini pendant
entry vestibule features a Tomaso Buzzi for Venini pendant
dressing room with monolithic block of Verdi Alpi marble
dressing room with monolithic block of Verdi Alpi marble
dining room with Paul Hayes terrarium and Michelangelo Pisoletto works
dining room with Paul Hayes terrarium and Michelangelo Pisoletto works
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arched windows visible behind full-height, white ripple drapes
arched windows visible behind full-height, white ripple drapes
the B&B Italias sofas in the living room, a gift from Abigail's father
the B&B Italias sofas in the living room, a gift from Abigail's father
image © Shade Degges
image © Shade Degges

project info:

 

name: Pacific Heights house

location: San Francisco, US 

architecture studio: Kallos Turin | @kallosturin

local architect of record: Jones Haydu

contractor: Upscale Construction

lead architect: Abigail Turin

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