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Curbed Inside: San Francisco Living Home Tour

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Curbed SF dispatched its Special Ops team to Saturdays's San Francisco Living: Home Tour, one of the most popular events of the Architecture + The City celebration, which runs through the end of the month. As we hopped from home to home on the company Vespa, one thing was became clear: this was a very design-friendly crowd full of hip eyewear, tight pants, fancy shoes, and slick business cards. And the homes weren't too bad either. We're not omniscient, so anyone with snaps or commentary on the Sunday leg should report directly to the Curbed SF Inbox.

1) First up, The Deform House in Potrero Hill, renovated by Faulders Studio. The abstract pattern cut into the entry gate of the home reads "stay out" in binary code. It's understandable that the owner of this renovated Marina-style house doesn't want any uninvited guests, as the walls are covered with more paintings than we've seen in some museums. Seriously. With works by artists such as Vic Muniz and Al Farrow, almost every surface of the home is dedicated to the owner's art collection— the architect had only the ceiling surface on which to bust his design moves. CNC (computer numerical control) milled ceiling tiles made of simple mdf to create a rich, shifting surface that wraps across the top floor of the master suite. A nice renovation of a classic San Francisco home, but the art really stole the show.

2) Next up, we made a stop in the Mission's red light district. The Shotwell residence, home of architect and champion of dense living David Baker design. The converted Edwardian includes an efficiency apartment and small commercial space on the street front; the two bedroom second-floor home where Baker resides is dominated by a single, sweeping central space with a galley kitchen and small office stretching alongside the main room. From a custom pulley system in the ceiling hang two bicycles — a recurring motif in the Shotwell Residence, where we counted no fewer than 13 bikes. The rear yard contains a former stable that Baker cut in half and converted into a temporary, yet well-equipped wood shop that was the envy of many a home tourist. (Future plans include converting the erstwhile stable into a livable outbuilding.) Clever design, great natural light, multiple sustainable features, and an entry stair hand-rail cozy knit by the architect himself mark this as distinctively David Baker.

3) Designed Zack | de Vito Architecture, the architect's own Glen Park residence wins our prize for the most "architect-y" home. Take that as you will. Puncturing walls all over the home, steel cubes give brief glimpses from one room to another. As for materials, we were impressed by a cool palette of steel, concrete, light woods, and what looked like a sandblasted translucent acrylic used on the central stair and balcony floors. Although the views from the top floor of the home are undoubtedly some of the best we've seen in the city, most visitors seemed more astonished at one of the home's pedestrian spaces: "that had to be the most beautiful laundry room I've ever seen." And indeed, it was quite lovely.

4) Our final stop on the tour was the Choy Residence in Noe Valley, designed by Terry + Terry Architecture. First impression: wood. Wood everywhere, giving the home an almost ship-like quality. As we approached the house, we were told to check out the "really really nice detailing," and sure enough — there was really really nice detail work. The top floor ceiling had a very subtle curve to it, expanding the space out through a large glass wall onto the adjacent deck. Ipe wood slots were the dominant material both inside and outside and helped create a sense of continuity between the interior and exterior spaces. So involved was this renovation of a 1960's home, that many visitors assumed it was a brand new ground-up construction.

In closing:
1) architects don't apparently have or watch television; 2) It seemed like a lot of the home designers came up together, as many houses shared design features and detailing; 3) Sometimes it seemed that the army of silent volunteers outnumbered the actual visitors. Hot tip for next year: don't want to shill out 60 bucks for a ticket? Just sign up to volunteer. Apparently everyone else did.