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Opening up and "zoning" an 1880s Victorian.

Charming to look at but a challenge to live in-this was the familiar paradox presented by a narrow 1880s fixer-upper on San Francisco's Russian Hill.

Because it had previously been used as a 2-unit apartment house, the 18-foot-wide, two-story structure contained an awkward, disjointed floor plan. The kitchen, two dark bedrooms, and a bathroom occupied the bottom floor; the living room and a third, larger bedroom and bath filled the upper floor. Gloomy, enclosed hallways dominated each level, contributing to the dingy, labyrinthine feeling.

The new owners asked San Francisco architects Toby Levy and Jim Fagler, of Levy Design Partners, for a comprehensive redesign. First, Levy and Fagler zoned the house, assigning all public functions such as entertaining and eating to the upper floor, and all private functions such as working and sleeping- to the lower one. About the only thing to remain essentially unchanged was the position of the living room; it overlooks the garden at

the back of the house.

Out of the original upstairs bedroom (adjacent to the living room), the architects carved a new kitchen and dining room. Now, the front door opens to a small entry and the new dining room, which expands into the house's front window bay.

Pivot-swing doors flanking a glass display cabinet (pictured above) lead to the generously scaled kitchen with its granitetopped central island. The hall stayed where it had been, but the architects removed the walls and doors at each end so sight lines through the house from front to back would be uninterrupted.

On the bottom floor, they turned the old kitchen into a bright, light-filled study with French doors leading directly into the garden. To keep the garden-side wall as open as possible, they put all the builtin filing cabinets and a computer shelf on the opposite wall. A new master suite and a refurbished guest room and bath complete the bottom floor's design.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:apartment house remodeling
Date:Jun 1, 1989
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