|Aluminum fiberglass panels accent the red stucco exterior. The ground floor is a covered porch with steel columns that support the deck above.|
When the owners of this 1920s home moved from San Diego to the Berkeley area, they needed to make a statement. Architects deep into the modernist tradition, Rene Davids and Christine Killory set out to purchase a fixer-upper to showcase their design talents.
Their palette was a 2½-story, 2,700-square-foot home situated on a beautiful hillside in an older neighborhood. The dilapidated home had been foreclosed and vacant for almost six months, and the gradually moving hillside had cracked the foundation.
After consulting with their architectural colleagues, the owners brought in Alward Construction to do the remodeling. Alward retrofitted the foundation, installing drilled piers to stabilize the area. A 600-square-foot bumpout to the backyard added space to the kitchen and back entryway.
For the exterior, Killory and Davids wanted a color that would resonate with the redwood trees on the lot. They decided on a red oxide that was mixed directly into the stucco. Second- and third-floor aluminum decks and new horizontal windows take advantage of a direct view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Inside, Alward removed the walls dividing the dining area, living room and foyer and shimmed all floor surfaces throughout the house to level.
"The project took about a year and a half, and with the owners living on site, the job changed a lot over that time," says Keith Alward. "But we were able to step up to the plate and serve our customer as real partners."
For example, an inspector determined that the fireplace floor did not have the proper fire rating and that the slate the owners wanted must be removed. "Instead of just replacing the slate with a different material, we went underneath the fireplace and added the necessary fire-rated materials, and it passed," says Alward. "This demonstrated to the owners our loyalty to their design."
Through a salvage company, the owners found 60 large pieces of Vermont slate that had been used in a 1930s school as blackboards. The slate was installed as floor tile, countertops, a tub surround, a shower and walls in three bathrooms. Unable to find a slate cutter that fit their needs, Alward's team did it themselves.
"I enjoyed participating with architect-owners, and I think that's why we earn so many referrals from architects all over the Bay area," says Alward.