History in (re)fabrication • The Nob Hill Gazette
From front to back, a San Francisco Victorian’s restoration considers its past and future.
Architecture firm See Arch and home improvement firm Foreverhome had a lot in common before they began collaborating on projects, from a restaurant in Berkeley to residences on both sides of the Bay Bridge. They were founded in 2016 and 2015, respectively, by young entrepreneurs with driving ideals. Architect Sarah Ebner wanted the women-owned and operated business to improve the work-life balance of her field without compromising craftsmanship. Spouses Nico and Wendy Thysell, both 23, were increasing the perception of flipped homes, starting with a three-bedroom repairman in East Bay who they saw “transform from something almost uninhabitable into something beautiful,” says Niko Thysell , Chief Operating Officer of Foreverhome. It’s a philosophy that has carried the company ever since. “We take uninhabitable homes, revitalize them, bring them back to life,” he continues, “and create very thoughtful and creative designs while making sure to highlight the structural integrity of the home itself.”
The collaborators’ largest project to date is the rehabilitation of the Nut Soup of an 1895 Pacific Heights Victorian. It was completed in February, after four years of work that included raising the roof for the addition of a third story and the elevation of the house itself to replace the brick foundation – with several significant upgrades in between, aided by ZFA structural engineers. Steel columns now support the front bay window so that a garage can be added. An entrance staircase probably demolished in the 1960s or 1970s has been restored. And three bedrooms and a bathroom became five and four.
“Victorians are known for having elaborate wooden wall treatments, and I played a modern game by choosing sawn oak in the downstairs hallway and kitchen cupboards.” — Wendy Thysell
“The nature of these lots, with no side yards, allows us to treat the front and the back differently,” says Ebner. “It really is a very San Francisco design challenge.” In this case, the 4,260 square foot solution, double that of the original home, is a study in thoughtful juxtaposition. The historic facade captures its innate character, while the contemporary rear of the home showcases terraced additions and the conveniences of modern living: a family room that opens to the backyard, a reconfigured second floor with a enlarged kitchen and a master bedroom on the new third floor. . “You got all that natural light from the rear addition and all that extra space,” says Ebner, who as director worked with See Arch’s project manager. Karina Andreeva. Andreeva in turn has worked closely with the city throughout the project and sees this as a San Francisco home “that will last another hundred years and transfer that character into the future”.
While the property has since been sold to a couple looking to expand their family, Foreverhome design director Wendy Thysell relied on this character, rather than an existing client’s desires, for inspiration. . “I played on a traditional Victorian home by incorporating dark woodwork and colors in the great room and dining room while keeping the rest of the house light, bright and airy,” she says. “My real client in every project is the structure itself.”