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Squeezing in a vest-pocket "Victorian." (Victorian house's design)

Squeezing in a vest-pocket "Victorian"

Empty lots in densely populated areas usually stay empty for good reasons. The site of this vest-pocket "Victorian" in Oakland is a good example: squeezed between houses built 40 years earlier, the 3,200-square-foot lot was considered impossible to build on not only for falling sharply away from the street, but also for being extremely long and narrow. And, as if space weren't already tight enough, off-street parking requirements took a big additional bite.

Overcoming the slope proved no mean feat. To tie the house to the hillside, a pier-and-grade-beam foundation used more than 50 cubic yards of concrete and 46 steel-reinforced piers-- ranging from 12 to 14 inches in diameter and 8 to 14 feet deep.

Sure that strong verticals would maximize the sense of volume in the 1,200-square-foot house, builder John Allen suggested a Victorian look. Architect Rod Wolfer updated the high ceilings and tall, slender windows characteristic of the 19th-century style, using exposed wood and an open floor plan to give classic forms a fresh twist.

Upstairs, partial interior walls rise just far enough to define a small kitchen, setting it apart from the entry and an adjacent stairwell that leads to the two bedrooms and bathroom on the lower floor. Carefully placed windows along the east wall open both levels to private views and morning sunshine.

Photo: Open railings encircling two-car parking area let light flow down into entry portico. Behind railings, mild-mannered gable hides a surprisingly expansive interior

Photo: Inside, entry, kitchen, dining, and living areas share top floor. Soaring 16-foot ceiling required exposed structural beams. Molding and 1-by-12 trim soften rustic look with elegant touch

Photo: Lot widens from 23 feet on low end to 30 feet uphill. Small house occupies every bit of space that zoning allows. Angling in, east wall jogs to accommodate side windows; these frame selected views

Photo: Great room gathers light through half-round and vertical windows in south-facing bay, whose contours extend into the gable. Wrapping the downstairs bay, small porch--just large enough for planters and a chaise--gives bedroom an outdoor area
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Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Apr 1, 1988
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