After living in their San Francisco home for nearly ten years, a young family of four had outgrown the Bernal Heights pad. But with amazing neighbors and a great location, moving wasn’t the right call…but an expansion was. They brought on Leah Harmatz of Field Theory for the job. 

“The city’s special zoning for the neighborhood is intended to preserve its small-scale character, and the renovation had to stay within the existing building footprint,” Leah shares. “The only solution for expanding the home was to build up into the existing attic and dig down to create a third level. The final result is a light-filled three-story home with a modern and spacious interior that still incorporates the original architectural details and Victorian character.”

The main goal of the project was to preserve as much of the beautiful original detail as possible, while integrating the new areas of the home to feel modern yet cohesive. They minimized waste by not over-renovating areas that were serving the clients well. Leah explains, “rather than demo the kitchen or the front rooms of the house, we chose to instead do light updates to those spaces…refinishing floors and cabinets, refreshing paint, lighting, et cetera…so they would meld with the new additions of the first and third floors of the home.”

The two-year project had a few challenges and delays (COVID and Leah’s own maternity leave!) but the designer says it was a true collaboration. “Working with them and the skilled architect, Mark Reilly, and DMC Construction, was such a dream team,” she says. “I miss our weekly construction meetings. We spent hours poring over the structural elements and paying particular attention to details such as door handles, window trim, and stair railings, which are often overlooked but make all the difference in the final feel of a space.”