Is there anything worse than realizing your house is sinking? That was the harsh reality one Bay Area family faced. Fortunately, they also realized that the layout of the home wasn’t ideal and a complete renovation would actually be quite beneficial. Architect Heidi Richardson shares, “The clients had been living in the house for a long time when they realized that the kitchen corner was sinking and that they needed new foundation — a trigger for a gut renovation. They knew the location of the kitchen in the front of the house didn’t work and with their kids getting bigger, it was time for an overhaul.”

They tasked Heidi and her team with renovating and modernizing the small 1940s cottage. “They wanted an open, livable space that optimized the footprint, had good circulation, an indoor-outdoor feel, and would allow them to entertain friends and family while still being able to have alone time,” Heidi recalls. A large kitchen that would spill open to the living and dining rooms was a must, as was an outdoor area that could be easily accessed from the public spaces for year-round, indoor-outdoor living. “As a result, we added a rear deck and opened up the family and dining rooms to the deck,” Heidi recalls.

The outdoor space proved a bit challenging, as Heidi did not want to impede the views from inside the house yet the property still needed sufficient shade coverage. “As a solution, we designed a two-tiered arrangement,” she explains. “We created a spacious deck, leveled with the doors, and covered part of it with a trellis that allows light to filter in while blocking the harsh sun. A picnic style dining table and couch area allow for outdoor entertaining.” If you walk down a few steps, you’ll see an inviting patio area complete with fire pit and family-style seating area. The ‘sunken outdoor living room’ remains obscured from view when looking out into the yard.

Another goal was for each child to have their own bedroom, and for the family to have a den for quiet time or evening hangouts. This meant converting the 2nd floor attic into 500-sf of habitable space, including 2 bedrooms and a bathroom, and reimagining a formal living room as a cozy den. Though the project began under stressful circumstances, the result is room for everyone and a truly beautiful home. Take a closer look in the slideshow.