(Aaron Leitz, original photo on Houzz)

House Tour: A San Francisco apartment gets a modern Parisian accent

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Architect Stephen Sutro of Sutro Architects grew up in San Francisco just four blocks from this home, alongside one of the owners, who was a childhood friend. Years later, when the friend and her husband hired Sutro for this project, that long relationship made it easy to communicate and share ideas for the transformation of the couple's Edwardian flat from a dark warren of small rooms to a light-filled family dwelling.

Houzz at a Glance


Who lives here: A couple and their two children

Location: San Francisco

Size: 2,900 square feet; 3 bedrooms, 3½ bathrooms

Year renovated: 2013

(Aaron Leitz, original photo on Houzz)

"The modern interventions create an interesting juxtaposition and a pleasant tension between the old and new," says Sutro. The design of a fireplace in Tom Ford's New York City flagship store inspired the architect to create this wood and limestone surround and mantel in the living room.

Sofa: Dizani; art: Matt Lipps


"We call this project Parisian Modern Flat, because it uses the European idea of classic architecture as the backdrop for modern elements and furniture," says Sutro.

The architect staged a delicate design balance. "By using classic molding and a herringbone-patterned floor, we referenced the era in which the house was built," the architect says. A sofa with multisided seating has decidedly modernist attributes; it allows people to relax and enjoy the contemporary fireplace, the avant-garde photo collage, the more traditional bay window or the modern kitchen. "It is the perfect piece, because it has seating on all four sides," says the architect. "It knits the room together."

"The Lindsey Adelman light fixture defines the dining area and adds a formality to it," says Sutro. Although the architect removed the division between the rooms, he left a suggestion of a wall between the dining room and kitchen to make a slight visual separation. "It's just enough to suggest two spaces," he says. "Dim the lights in the kitchen during a dinner party, and it seems to disappear."

"Before the remodel the kitchen was tucked at the back, the darker area of the house," says Sutro. When he moved the kitchen to the center, he reassigned its former place to the study. To lighten up both the study and the stairwell, he replaced a wall between them with slightly opaque glass.

An opaque glass window also appears in the master bathroom, allowing privacy in the tub but letting light fill the room. A trough sink allows two people to use it comfortably. "The vanity is only 5½ feet long," Sutro says. "Two sinks didn't make sense here, but a trough makes the vanity feel longer and more usable."

From public spaces to private, the home's entire interior design is a balancing act well executed.

// This story was written by Mary Jo Bowling, and originally published on Houzz.

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