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Shadows and Light: A Modern Twist on San Francisco’s Victorian Architecture

House of Light and Shadow, San Francisco, US / William Duff Architects

William Duff Architects has recently unveiled their latest residential project, the House of Light and Shadow, which is located in the heart of San Francisco and spans an impressive 3,758 square feet. Originally, the clients purchased this Victorian four-bedroom, 3.5-bath home with a ground-floor in-law unit, but the interiors had been stripped of their original details, leaving only the historic era façade intact. Being design enthusiasts, the clients desired a home that would not only blend period details with their modern family lifestyle but also evoke a sense of artistry. The resulting design achieves this by seamlessly integrating traditional and modern aesthetics, as well as playing with the interplay of light and shadow.

House of Light and Shadow, San Francisco, US / William Duff Architects

One of the most notable transformations occurred at the rear façade, which went from being a flat and unremarkable structure to a modern gem. The upper floor now boasts a vaulted space covered in custom Western Red Cedar siding and oversized glazed units, creating a visually stunning effect. The combination of these materials brings warmth and modernity to the entire house. Additionally, the new rear façade provides an intriguing contrast to the front, showcasing a distinctly modern design.

House of Light and Shadow, San Francisco, US / William Duff Architects

The house is organized into three main programs, each thoughtfully distributed across different floors. The entry level on the first floor features period details that connect to the historic front façade. The transition between design styles is marked by the ornate trim being interrupted at the bedroom door alcoves, where framed blackened steel wraps and modern chevron flooring create a dynamic visual experience.

House of Light and Shadow, San Francisco, US / William Duff Architects

The top floor, known as the ‘great room,’ embodies the concept of a light and airy space. It boasts tall vaulted ceilings and expansive sliding glass doors that offer breathtaking views of the city skyline. The sleek casework, stone boxes, and HenryBuilt Black Walnut cabinetry, all wrapped in blackened steel, contribute to the overall aesthetic of the room.

House of Light and Shadow, San Francisco, US / William Duff Architects

The design of the house seamlessly incorporates technology, with discreet lighting, concealed heating vents, and custom-shaped brass electrical outlet covers. Emphasizing sustainability, the house features solar panels, a Tesla Powerwall, and a radiant heating system.

House of Light and Shadow, San Francisco, US / William Duff Architects

The lower floor of the house, which is filled with natural light, serves as an in-law unit and accommodates recreational activities and utilities. Every aspect of the design, including a walk-in closet in the primary suite and the transformation of a guest room on the top floor, has been meticulously planned to meet the specific needs of the family.

House of Light and Shadow, San Francisco, US / William Duff Architects

One notable feature of the house is the expanded balcony, which is equipped with lighting, electrical outlets, and a hose bib, creating an outdoor oasis that was envisioned by the clients. The House of Light and Shadow exemplifies a well-thought-out design, contemporary living, and a harmonious fusion of the past and present.

Image courtesy of Matthew Millman