Reviving a Legacy


Reviving a Legacy
Built: 1962
Renovation: 2015
Architect: Andrew Lee Architecture
Photographer: Ren Dodge Photography


In the Oakland Hills, a 1962 house by leading Bay Area architect Joseph Esherick features concrete stilts and bay views that create a dramatic tree house feel. The concrete and wood structural system is clearly expressed both inside and out, while the finishes are kept deliberately minimal. Architect Andrew Lee, AIA responded to these conditions expertly when he was called upon to remodel a kitchen that opens into the home’s main living space.

Working with the architect, the owners carefully chose colors and materials for the remodel that would maintain the architectural integrity of the house while reviving its spirit. Minimalism prominent in the original design was preserved by maintaining the kitchen’s original footprint and focusing attention on a folding plywood wall that separates it from the living space. Kitchen cabinets are simple maple-veneer and plastic laminate with bright orange accents. The oak flooring, white ceramic wall tile and quartz countertops all recede into the background, placing focus on the large windows that fill the space with light and nature.

A new folding shutter wall and door were carefully detailed as “blind” doors that would blend into the wall and disappear when closed. Okoume plywood was selected to match the original redwood (which is no longer available) and installed so that grain patterns match across joints and seams. When closed, the surfaces align with the adjacent wall, forming an uninterrupted facade that completely disguises the kitchen. The result is a kitchen with 21st Century functionality and close ties to its 1960s-era roots.