Last week, as a part of September's Architecture and the City Festival in San Francisco, I attended a fantastic event at Design Within Reach on Jackson Street called "Modernizing Your Space: The Architect's Perspective." Brant Fetter from Wagstaff Architects, Tom Mcelroy from Mcelroy Architecture and James Hill each presented stunning before and after photos of residential projects that they had completed in the San Francisco Bay area.
As James Hill noted, the way that our living spaces have evolved reflects our lifestyles and how they have changed, too. We tend to live in more open spaces now (rather than compartmentalized rooms) and we also tend to live in a way that is more interconnected and casual. Modern design reflects this shift of the Facebook-share-all-era as we see more openness in our homes, especially in views and floor plans, as well as in our personal lives. Modern homes are no longer cut up into small rooms, but rather they are connected, creating a more casual and social feeling.
Each of the architects came back to four key things that can modernize your space and improve it significantly: light, views, outdoor space, and open spaces. In San Francisco specifically, there are many challenges to modern design: small lots, neighborhood restrictions, firewalls, and those long, bowling-alley-like San Francisco hallways. We saw a variety of projects where skylights were effectively used to bring some much-needed light into the space. In other projects, views were created where none had previously existed by putting in floor-to-ceiling windows, or by adding on a small deck.
Perhaps most important, we heard repeatedly that modern design does not have to be expensive. The goal is to make the natural environment more accessible, rather than making the home grander, and a few small changes can go a long way. Great news for Bay Area locals: the Jackson street Design Within Reach will be offering this free event on the third Thursday of every month.
Bring your photos, your plans and your questions and take advantage of an opportunity to engage in a one-on-one conversation with a local architect. (The topic is up to you: It could be a general design discussion or a complimentary design session for a real project you have in mind.) Wine and hors d'oeuvres will be provided, too!
Image: Mcelroy Architecture