At Home: Architect's Castro home stresses outdoor living

Craig Steely and Cathy Liu faced a problem that’s not uncommon: With a growing 6-year-old son and a need for a larger home office from which Steely could run his business with fellow architects, they required, as Steely puts it, better space.

Instead of finding a bigger place elsewhere, the family decided to stay in the area. They rented a place across the street from their property on Beaver Street in the Castro district, tore down the house, and rebuilt it.

“It was worth it to remodel because we could stay in the neighborhood,” says Liu, a painter who works from home.

Steely, who designed the modern structure, says, “We wanted to create a space where home and work could be together.”

The house features a spacious upstairs office with excellent natural lighting, thanks to large windows.

The remodel also added a level. The new top floor has a kitchen that opens into a living room with cushy red couches and floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors that reveal a deck and a sod overhang. There’s as much square footage outside as inside.

“We didn’t have any outdoor space before,” Liu says. “Now our son can go in and out.”

The deck has a fireplace suspended from the roof and a grassy knoll.

Steely’s design scheme was to use space the best way possible.

“We didn’t want more space, just better space,” he says. “Most people want to max out their square footage.”

Steely enjoyed working on his own home because he could try ideas that people who hire him might not like. 

“A lot of architects say it’s hard to work on their own houses, but for me it was  easier,” Steely says. “You can take a lot more chances. I’ve done so many things on this house that I’ve wanted clients to do.”

An example of his experimentation is the vertical wood siding on the front of the house. It’s just one element that makes the building unique in the predominantly Victorian neighborhood.

 

Style keys

Design feel: Modern, linear
Favorite room: The upstairs living room, outdoor space, view
Green feature: Solar panels; a two-kilowatt system powers the whole house
Art work: Wayne Berger, a guitar and ukulele maker, made Peruvian walnut front doors, along with cabinets and other woodwork

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