Text by: Tiffany Carboni
When architect David Burton and his family bought their 1908 craftsman home in San Francisco’s nearby East Bay, it was suffering from an ill-considered 1979 addition and 20 years of neglect. And Burton couldn’t have been happier with it, for it gave him the opportunity to be his own client.
While he was excited to restore the entire house, the architect was particularly interested in the kitchen’s redesign, which was critical not just to the project but to the family’s daily way of life. Burton moved the kitchen from its original dark, cramped location on the north side of the house to a larger space on the south side in order to capture the all-day sunlight and access to a new outdoor living room.
The remodel acts as a transitional space between the original and new portions of the house through the use of compatible materials that are detailed in a more minimal, modern language. Remodeling with sustainable components was key. “I didn’t want to mimic the detailing of the original house, but rather undertake a modern reinterpretation of the idea of what “craftsman” means and focus on the use of natural materials and fine detailing, only executed in a more minimalist and sustainable manner,” notes Burton.
The new layout allows the entire family one unified space for their many activities without stepping on each other’s toes. With clearly divided zones creating a cooking side and a gathering side, each member of the family has a designated spot, whether it’s to make a culinary masterpiece or to sip a glass of wine and take in the show. A desk on the north side provides computer access while still being a part of the scene.
The west wall is dedicated to floor-to-ceiling built-in cherry cabinetry that provides plenty of pantry storage on the bottom and 10-inch deep shelving for the extensive collection of cookbooks. The south side of the room is dominated by an eight-by-nine-foot lift slide glass door, which allows for a larger opening with fewer panels than standard sliders, and a four-by-nine-foot skylight making for a well-lit room all day long. The reading nook next to the door is a favorite spot to sit and choose recipes for the evening’s meal.
Sustainable materials include the salvaged beams used to frame the skylight, cork floors, a paper-composite counter for the computer desk, granite countertops salvaged from a stone supplier’s “boneyard” and a backsplash made of Heath Ceramics “rejects”. No modern-day kitchen would be complete without a built-in recycling center, which Burton placed conveniently next to the sink.
What had fallen into a disheveled state, this newly restored craftsman (and its kitchen) has been brought back to life with imagination and modernity, and is appreciated by its inhabitants every single day.