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Rafael Avenue Residence

Bolinas, California. Completed in 2015.

This renovation of a modest 885 square foot house built in the 40’s on a bluff overlooking Bolinas Bay was the second time we renovated this house. The first renovation updated the kitchen and master bedroom but didn't add any square footage. Seven years later we expanded the house, adding a dining room, an office, a new entry/mudroom, expanding the kitchen and living rooms, and building wraparound decks that connect the house to the gardens. Because of existing zoning, we could only add 440 square feet onto the house. Luckily the owners are a practical family of three who move between New York and Bolinas and didn't mind at all that we had to fit all that programme into 440 square feet.

The house needed to easily accommodate large dinner parties while also providing cozy spaces for one or two people. The small kitchen had to be very efficient: a new walk-in pantry space was added where an unused shower was, and from floor to ceiling the storage was maximized, with wine storage in cubbies overhead and pop-out pantry shelves below the counters. The kitchen was opened up to a new dining room addition where a bay window seat projects into a stand of old pine trees, creating a treehouse nook and providing seating for dinner parties with storage below (and not adding any area to the floor plan).

The connection to Bolinas Bay was reinforced by two corner windows that frame views to the water from the expanded living room and dining room. An old and unsafe spiral stair was removed, and a new L-shaped stair added with an office fit under one run, and deep drawers stacked under the other. The railing at the top of the stairs also provides a backrest for the bookshelf benches that wrap the stair opening, providing library space and places for dinner guests to chat. The original luaun panels that lined the walls were matched and used in the living room expansion, whereas the new dining room, stairwell, office, and entry were paneled in wide board fir and painted white to maximize the sometimes limited Bolinas sunshine.

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