Opposites Attract in Nor Cal Addition

Klopf Architecture in San Francisco delivered big with this minimal addition and rooftop patio.

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Built on a hillside in Orinda, Calif., this home belonging to a family of five was in need of an expansion so the growing children could each have their own bedrooms. Klopf Architecture answered in spades, with a unique modern 800-square-foot addition to the traditional home.

But John Klopf says he can’t take all the credit. The principal of the San Francisco–based firm attributes the outcome of the project in large part to homeowner/designer Tanja DiGrande, who collaborated with the team, particularly during the conceptual design phase.
“The idea was to depart from the original style completely to draw a distinction between the original house and any later additions,” Klopf says.

Together they worked to design a new area that now sits in bold juxtaposition to the original home while offering a clean living space that successfully marries the existing interior.
“The way the house is photographed is the way they live, so the minimal aspect of the design was the driving force in selecting materials and finishes,” he explains. “They wanted it to be gallery-like, a place to showcase their well-curated pieces of art and provide a backdrop for their furniture.”

To achieve this, the team converted the original master bedroom into a third bedroom and added a new master suite. Although the goal had been to keep the family room as is and build on top of it while expanding the footprint to add an office/guest room, it became evident during construction that the family room was not structurally sound and needed to be rebuilt.

The 450-square-foot family room was remodeled to include a number of standout features such as a television built into the wall, as well as a functional storage bench that runs along the edge of the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the hillside. At the far end of the bench is an ethanol-burning fireplace that provides ambiance yet remains discreet when not in use. But the sleek feature actually serves a dual purpose: shielding from sight a concrete retaining wall that sits just outside the window.

The master suite now stands as a testament to the homeowner’s dedication to a minimal floor plan. The entire room is completely open, and although a pocket door to the bathroom is available should one wish to use it, the large wet room features sloping floors for drainage as well as a freestanding tub that overlooks the yard to enhance the natural setting. Tying the seamless look together is floor-to-ceiling Caesarstone for a smooth yet waterproof surface.

On the exterior, dark gray stuccoed walls and steel elements bring the minimalist design to life. The industrial feeling extends beyond the addition to the new 600-square-foot roof deck that offers dramatic views from all angles, but is still private thanks to numerous trees planted around the property’s perimeter. Access to the roof from inside the home was not an option, so a dramatic spiral staircase serves as an entry point for the homeowners and their guests. Of course, carrying food and drinks up and down could pose a challenge, so the clients proposed using a boom and crank to deliver refreshments while entertaining.