Dolores Heights home reimagines the earthquake cottage
San Francisco earthquake cottage transformed into 21st century home
This residential design by Jones Haydu Architects in San Francisco’s Dolores Heights reimagines one of the city’s typical earthquake-resistant cottages
In one of San Francisco’s famous hilltop neighborhoods stands the remarkable Dolores Heights House – both at home in its residential context of period properties, but also clearly distinct, with its clean lines and unmistakably contemporary design. . The founder of interiors studio Sawyers Design, Kevin Sawyers, and his husband owned the site and the earthquake-resistant cottage that occupied it – a structure originally designed as part of a series of temporary housing units for some 250,000 residents displaced by the 1906 earthquake that shook San Francisco. However, the humble cottage was in dire need of refurbishment, so the owners began a transformation. Working with local architectural firm Jones Haydu, Sawyers and his team have created a perfect example of how a modern building can pay homage to its history and context, while offering something entirely new and fresh. .
The home, which spans three levels and over 3,000 square feet, features a sharp, angular facade with large windows and a combination of wood, glass, and metal siding. The metallic elements give it a somewhat industrial feel, but the warm, exposed wood, often found in Jones Haydu’s works, ensures that the house is at home on the quaint streets of San Francisco. Despite its contemporary exterior, the house sits harmoniously among the colorful residences and leafy surroundings typical of Dolores Heights.
Inside, the interior combines functionality and comfort, and large openings that frame San Francisco’s iconic views. Stone and marble features are present throughout the home, such as the fireplace, kitchen counters, bathrooms, and bedroom floors. Yet this freshness is balanced by the wood that lines some of the surfaces, the cozy cream that covers the walls and the sun that floods the windows.
The main living space is rich and layered, adorned with a lush rug in bold hues, crafts, art and design, and generous high ceilings. It leads through dark metal French doors to a terrace that emerges from the sloping roof volume – part of a constellation of simple, archetypal forms, which create an “almost childlike expression of the house”, explain the architects of Jones Haydu. The deck overlooks the many cafes, restaurants, and the occasional gallery that dot Dolores Heights. The residence features a secluded outdoor seating area flanked by even more exposed woodland and shaded by a mature Monterey Cypress that invites nature into the living spaces, even though the home is in a densely built urban setting.
When the sun goes down, the residence casts a warm glow, both from within and thanks to the carefully planned exterior lighting system that illuminates the exterior stairs and sitting area, making the home a real sight to behold. §