This classic San Francisco Victorian still has its ornate 1892 façade. However, the back had an outdated 1970s renovation that owners Eric Smith and Mark Garrett wanted to update to create a better connection to the private backyard.

The back wall is clad with copper shingles, with contrasting stucco for the two bump-outs. Remodeler Jeff King replaced the shingled deck off the master bedroom with a slate deck wrapped with an open rail. The same railing was used on the new deck off the attic. A space-saving spiral stair from the upper deck to the yard adds an architectural element. The owners worked on the backyard hardscaping themselves, and their friend Jeff Bail, a Portland, Ore., master gardener and pebble mosaic artist (www.jeffreygardens.com) created the Moorish-style mosaic.
Treve Johnson Photography The back wall is clad with copper shingles, with contrasting stucco for the two bump-outs. Remodeler Jeff King replaced the shingled deck off the master bedroom with a slate deck wrapped with an open rail. The same railing was used on the new deck off the attic. A space-saving spiral stair from the upper deck to the yard adds an architectural element. The owners worked on the backyard hardscaping themselves, and their friend Jeff Bail, a Portland, Ore., master gardener and pebble mosaic artist (www.jeffreygardens.com) created the Moorish-style mosaic.

“The kitchen was closed off. The roof deck on the back bedroom was a rickety wood structure that would shake when you stood on it,” homeowner Smith says. “But the rest of the house was solid as a rock and the original detailing was intact. The guts were great, but we wanted to make the house more livable and practical.”

Smith and Garrett turned to San Francisco remodeler Jeff King, of Jeff King & Co., to open up all three floors of the house to the outdoors. Using two bump-outs with expanses of glass and open decks provided this connection without encroaching too much on the small yard.

The couple began the renovation soon after purchasing the property, renting a place in the neighborhood during the remodel. “We knew we wanted a modern addition on the back,” Smith says. “But [we] wanted to integrate it. We did not want an abrupt transition from Victorian to modern.”

The owners had an architect draw the plans, then King worked closely with Smith and Garrett, value engineering the materials selections to customize the basic design to suit the couple's taste. “That was the exciting part of working with these clients — the capability to collaborate and make minor changes along the way,” King says.

Smith gives King credit for helping them make choices. “That is why we wanted to bring a contractor into the process early on,” Smith says. “[And King] had good visual design suggestions, as well as good quality work. My partner and I were creative and had a vision. We needed someone who did this professionally to take our ideas and help make them more realistic, aesthetically as well as logistically.”

REAR WINDOWS The owners had seen copper shingles on another house in the neighborhood and thought the low-maintenance material would be perfect for the back of their home. However, King suggested stucco for the kitchen and master bath bump-outs to add some contrast. On the attic level, King replaced the existing window with a French door and a deck. The new, larger windows and glass doors flood the interior with light.

The lavender cabinet color adds a modern touch. The owners use the large windows over the sink as a handy pass-through to the grill in the backyard.
Credit: Treve Johnson Photography The lavender cabinet color adds a modern touch. The owners use the large windows over the sink as a handy pass-through to the grill in the backyard.

Continuing with the low-maintenance theme, the team chose aluminum-clad windows and doors. For the attic, master bedroom, and exterior spiral stair railing, King's crew installed powder-coated metal to match the aluminum cladding. The remodeler says that the railing caps — as well as the attic and first-floor awnings — are made of ipé wood because the owners wanted a softer look than the standard copper cap King usually specifies.

The team did run into an issue with the kitchen bump-out, which was originally going to be slab on grade. Once excavation began, the subcontractor discovered a brick wall, which was subpar, under the existing house. Because the house is in an earthquake zone, the subcontractor suggested replacing the original brick wall with a new 9-foot-high concrete wall. Since that work required extensive digging, the owners requested that the in-ground garage on that lower level be expanded to create space for a workshop, so the sub built the new retaining wall a few feet farther out.