Project History and Client Goals

The original design of the house was an outstanding example of an urban Shingle Style building with Craftsman Style detailing. Built in 1910, it had a formal floor plan with a center-located foyer and stairway that were flanked by a living-room and a dining room. As in most homes of the period, the sleeping quarters were located on the upper floor. Although situated on a corner lot, the original house had only one façade that was architecturally representative of the period. The other three facades lacked any interest or Craftsman Style motifs.

The clients wanted to restore the house and to add space that would provide flexibility for more than one family to live in the home at one time. They also requested a new half-basement to house a third apartment and a utility area.

Design Focus

My focus was on restoring and enhancing the original house and making the new addition appear as if it has always been there. Also, I felt it was very important to preserve the architectural context of the house within a neighborhood of similar period buildings and, by doing so, preserving the history of a very unique neighborhood in the city of San Rafael.


The main accomplishment of this project is that all of the carefully orchestrated details contribute to the building’s architectural authenticity, and most of all, to the visual continuity and historical preservation of a treasured neighborhood in the city of San Rafael.

  • I designed a secondary entrance and porch on the side street of the property with the same proportions and details as the main entry porch, just smaller in scale. This new entry can be used either as a secondary access to the house or as an independent doorway to a separate apartment space.
  • I added most of the new space to the rear of the house where the façade is completely new and enhanced with bay windows, dormers, trellises, brackets and corbels designed to tie to the original architecture. The stone walls at the base of the building complete a sunken garden at the rear of the house, and the new arched trellis denotes the entry to the new half-basement apartment. At the front and side façades, I re-created complementary details that include the upper-level sleeping porch, clerestory windows and dormers.
Front entry way to a high-end house in Saratoga
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