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Home & Garden


Plant a cool-season vegetable garden

Sun, 16 Oct 2016 11:00:00 UT

Just because the vegetables and fruits of summer are long gone, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy a whole new crop of fall and winter veggies grown at home.

Steal the look of this stunning winery

Sat, 15 Oct 2016 11:00:00 UT

Add a dazzling bolt of blue for fall

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 22:38:47 UT

A stroll down your nursery’s ground-cover aisle will reveal a host of sturdy, year-round perennials, so it’s not often that we think of a low and spreading plant that’s at its best in fall and winter. The red stems and red-leaf borders in winter form a nice contrast. When the flowering period is finished, the cooler winter temperatures bring out the red flush on the leaves, making for an extended period of interest. Ceratostigma plumbaginoides can be used to fill in an empty bed, spill over a low wall or simply provide an understory carpet around taller plants. With a little regular water it will provide a lush carpet of foliage, yet once established it will tough out dry conditions. Despite its toughness, the brilliant blue flowers and spilling nature make it a lovely addition to a decorative fall container. Though he failed to successfully return with a living specimen, a British trader known only as Mr. Smith was able to bring a specimen home to England, which eventually resulted in the plant being cultivated.

Getaway: Storybook mansion on Alamo estate blends Old World design with modern living

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 17:48:22 UT

[...] the 20,467-square-foot Storybook mansion is the focal point of 7 Country Lane, though manicured gardens, verdant hillsides, a luxurious tree house and welcoming patios rightfully command their share of attention. “The architectural sophistication and elegant craftsmanship create this sense that the home has been around for generations,” said Dana Green of Pacific Union Christie’s International Real Estate, who is listing the mansion for $39 million. John Aiken, curator and aviary expert for the San Francisco Zoo, designed a bird sanctuary for the Alamo estate, while San Francisco artists Mark Evans and Charley Brown painted murals and objects throughout. Bronzed Italian windows and chandelier lighting illuminate a grand living room anchored by an antique French fireplace and artistic valences. While timber reclaimed from New England barns receives a new start as the posts and beams, the great room’s generous proportions and high-end kitchen align with modern expectations. Honed slabs of Calacatta marble form the kitchen’s counters and backsplashes, while the islands are topped with yellow bamboo marble and Rojo Alicante marble. Six pendant lights — fashioned by an Austrian blacksmith who also designed ironwork throughout the mansion — hang from reclaimed beams in the kitchen’s coffered ceiling. An oversize pool and spa merely begin a list of amenities that includes a grotto dining area, a family dog park, a wishing well, multiple fountains, four outdoor bathrooms, two outdoor showers, a barbecue pavilion and a water slide that ends in a plunge pool. PE Guernin hardware accents a posh dressing room equipped with a safe offering built-in drawers and compartments. A home this grand will host gatherings and celebrations, so designers included a prep kitchen to supplement the butler’s pantry and help kitchen. Reclaimed materials like beams from New England barns and antique French fireplaces lend rustic elegance to the interior. The resort-caliber grounds hosts a grotto dining area, a dog park, a wishing well, multiple fountains, four outdoor bathrooms, dual outdoor showers, a barbecue pavilion, an oversize lap pool, spa and a water slide spilling into a plunge pool.

Lumina penthouse offers luxury above the clouds

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 17:41:26 UT

The wait was worth it. Since 1999, developer Carl Shannon has dreamed of the day when the Lumina project in San Francisco’s South Beach would be complete. While some construction, buff and polish still lies ahead at the intersection of Main and Folsom streets, the bulk of the work is complete — and residents are pouring in to claim the various floor plans. Shannon’s particularly excited about penthouse 36A, a crescent-shaped three-bedroom boasting two balconies, city views and an open floor plan. Gaggenau appliances outfit a German kitchen accented by SieMatic cabinetry with aluminum recessed channel pulls and Caesarstone counters and backsplashes. European porcelain lines the floors and walls of the penthouse’s spa bathrooms, and there’s a temperature-controlled wine room beside the dining area. Towering above SoMa, the Lumina development has 37- and 42-story towers offset by smaller structures housing condos and a suite of luxury amenities. Residents access a suite of services and amenities like a 10,500-square-foot rooftop terrace with room to grill, garden or gather around a fire pit. [...] the dining room opens to a terrace if anyone changes their mind and wants to savor breezes off the bay and the marine layer. “The private dining room’s kitchen is a place guests can have a chef prepare the meal — or they could cook with their friends,” Shannon said. Because looking and feeling great is part of living well, Lumina’s 70-foot heated lap pool pairs with multiple fitness centers to offer residents a wealth of exercise options. Making it softer and curved at the corners avoids the sharpness and makes the buildings feel further apart. [...] that translates into these possible spaces with diagonal views. Listing agent: Hugh O’Donnell, Lumina sales manager, (415) 495-3600, Amenities for Lumina’s residents include a private 10,500-square-foot roof terrace, 70-foot heated lap pool, multiple fitness centers, a rock climbing wall, private dining room and access to the development’s fleet of Audis.

Designer Profile: Allison Hatcher

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 17:40:23 UT

There she designed interiors for clients such as Apple and Wells Fargo before turning her sights toward residential projects. Hatcher loved the Bay Area from an early age. Hatcher left Fresno after her sophomore year of college and earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology from San Francisco State University. Fresno’s cow pastures and open stretches become monotonous over time, and there was no comparing the architecture between the two cities. “Everything I grew up around was brand new — strip malls, ranch houses and giant intersections with two left turn lanes,” she said. San Francisco has Victorians, Edwardians, steep hills and vibrant colors. In this lightly edited interview, Hatcher talks about her influences, her most recent project and what she enjoys hearing the most while eavesdropping during an open house. What architectural style do you identify with? [...] Tom and John and I take elements from that tradition, from what we see in Storybooks and from Craftsman and Victorian homes and draw from it to create a new house. There’s an emphasis on details and natural materials, and there’s solid integrity to the design. Part of my goal is that I want people to feel like they are in an old, stately East Bay house. The staging went really well and we ended up pairing up. [...] Anthony found a kindred spirit in building designer John Newton, another First Bay fan, and the collaboration has really taken off with new-old projects like Oakmont, Ninth Street and others before that. How does a degree in industrial technology lend itself to interior design? What’s a piece of technology that’s changed how you do business? Cell phone cameras and texting, hands down. All day long my colleagues and I are sharing photos, “Look at this handrail” or “Look at this floor.” What is the Oakmont project and what’s your role? Oakmont is a development of 10 homes that Anthony, Newton and I have partnered to build where a couple of dilapidated, really old houses once sat. Each home represents a different neighborhood in the East Bay, but they complement each other. [...] two homes will arrive on the market, followed by the final four.

Release a garden’s black beauty with ‘Jade Masquerade’ vine

Fri, 9 Sep 2016 18:41:20 UT

Release a garden’s black beauty with ‘Jade Masquerade’ vine Gardeners are always looking for eye-catching choices for a hanging basket or decorative pot, and, of course, plants with flowers are near the top of the list. Striking foliage, however, can be a natural complement, or in some cases the main attraction. With the pointed tips and dark tones, one can almost imagine these leaves as a living Ace of Spades. Like other morning glories, Ipomoea batatas varieties will climb if given some support, or they will cascade if left to spread and dangle. Sweet potato vines mix well with flowering perennials such as calibrachoa (Million Bells), verbena and nemesia or with shorter annuals such as pansies or calendula. Sweet potato vine is a sun lover that likes rich, fertile soil.

Modernized Edwardian maintains architectural heritage

Mon, 8 Aug 2016 20:28:46 UT

Virtually all of the reasons people dream of living in San Francisco exist at 158 Eighth Ave. Views, architectural beauty, convenience, luxury and entertainment all await inside the remodeled Edwardian in the city’s Lake district. [...] traditional design influenced decisions on finishes throughout the home. Professional appliances outfit the open chef’s kitchen, while dual sets of French doors in the living area open to a pair of Juliet balconies — one of which accesses the yard via an exterior staircase. Someone tending to the stove will have their back to the expansive, L-shaped island,which includes a prep sink and plenty of room for casual dining. Stainless steel pendant lights hang above the island and complement the kitchen’s minimalist hardware and neutral hues. A casual dining area opposite the kitchen gets filtered sunlight through a couple of nearby frosted windows. Hours of gaming and movie watching await in the cozy media room highlighting a playful lower level linking to the garage and backyard. Three of the Edwardian’s enticing bedrooms — including a lavish master suite — occupy the top floor. Like the main level’s great room, the master suite lies along the back of the home and has a pair of Juliet balconies above the backyard. Ample dimensions (24 feet long and 14 feet wide) provide space for add-ons like a walk-in closet and sitting area. Slabs of marble stretch from floor to ceiling in the resort-caliber retreat, which has a freestanding soaking tub and open shower with rain head. Ceiling speakers, professional-grade kitchen appliances and understated tile work adorn a bright, welcoming interior.

Designer blends California living with English flair

Wed, 3 Aug 2016 23:35:01 UT

Designer blends Californialiving with English flair William Shakespeare famously asked “What’s in a name?” In the case of California English, managing partner Jack Byron sees it as a blend of his native homeland and his current residence. “Simply put, ‘California English’ represents modern California living influenced by designs you might see in London,” said Byron, who grew up in England and spent time in Scandinavia before coming stateside. The bulk of Byron’s domestic work resides in Southern California, though his firm just put the finishing touches on a Victorian in the Mission District: 1217 York St. In this interview with SFisHomes, Byron shares thoughts on the Bay Area VS. What are some key differences between styles in Southern California and the Bay Area? How do you balance a home’s historical heritage while updating it for the modern era? In the case of 1217 York St., we kept the parlor rooms up front geared toward traditional Victorian finishes, while the portion that was added on utilized modern hardware and amenities. The intention is to be sensitive to original proportions and scale while still bringing something new. The first step is finding sites where you can build, and that’s not always easy. [...] there needs to be those sweeping, sculptural lines and flair. What parts of the Bay Area — besides San Francisco — are you also considering projects in? There’s a lot of interesting design out there, and there’s some surprisingly available properties to buy and restore. Most homes are attached, so you need to make sure the ground is shored up both for you and your neighbors before work really begins. Wanting to preserve architectural heritage is laudable — and London values its structures much the same as San Francisco. The hangups can really put homeowners in a tough spot, especially if you’re living in the home during the remodel. London’s planning system grades historic buildings I, II, or II* depending on their level of architectural interest/historic importance. In San Francisco, however, buildings need to have an evaluation undertaken (at the owners expense) before planners decide on an ad hoc basis what is permissible with respect to each individual building. Contemporary interior design/residential development firm with projects in the Bay Area and Southern California.

Getaway: A little bit (Wine) Country, a little bit contemporary

Wed, 13 Jul 2016 17:19:10 UT

A pool and pergola complement the backyard’s expansive lawn, while outdoor speakers provide the soundtrack for a summer barbecue or fall wedding. Sugarloaf Ridge, Annadel State Park and Hood Mountain Regional Park surround the bucolic lot peppered with mature trees and established vineyards. “It’s a tasteful and impeccable renovation, and the home’s 4.5 acres is impressive, yet manageable,” Sebastiani said. Wine Country is synonymous with fine dining, and the kitchen at 301 Adobe Canyon Road offers all the tools and conveniences to whip up world-class dishes. Caesarstone counters, Shaker cabinetry, professional appliances and a multipurpose center island outfit the light-filled country kitchen. An informal dining area connects with the butler’s pantry, and the kitchen faces a tree-studded landscape. Walls of folding French doors connect the kitchen to a veranda overlooking a lap pool bordered by box hedges and a pergola. The seamless integration of interior and outdoor spaces establishes the kitchen as the home’s premier entertainment destination. A Dutch-style front door welcomes in breezes off the rural landscape, while a skylight above the turned staircase doubles as a light well for the foyer. All three bedrooms are on the upstairs level and include balcony access and a private bathroom.

Designer Profile: San Francisco native Aleck Wilson continues family’s architectural legacy

Wed, 13 Jul 2016 17:13:57 UT

A friend of Aleck Wilson recently dined with the architect and noted how his dining companion fixated on the restaurant’s various angles and finishes. “You’re cursed,” he told Wilson, who runs an architectural firm bearing his name. Wilson, who founded his firm in 1998 and is a certified green building professional with licenses in California, Nevada and Hawaii, knew he couldn’t offer a rebuttal. Raised in Cole Valley, Wilson obviously grew up around architecture, but it wasn’t until after graduating high school that he discovered his passion for it. “I didn’t realize how much my family’s architectural background informed how I look at the world — I honestly thought that’s how everyone saw it,” he said. In this lightly edited interview with SFisHomes, Wilson talks about lessons learned from the Loma Prieta earthquake, timeless versus trendy finishes and never being able to shut off the analytical part of his brain. What’s your favorite spot in the Bay Area to work? There’s very little room for new construction in San Francisco, so you’re often only working with two facades. When you’re building a new, detached home, you get all four (facades) to work with. What’s most distinct about working in San Francisco versus other parts of the Bay Area? [...] in places like Tiburon and Belvedere, privacy and views are sacrosanct. San Francisco’s review process is strict, but other parts of the Bay Area have different, but equally rigid restrictions as well. [...] generally, many abide by the philosophy that design should be in context of the lot and the neighborhood. What is your family’s background with architecture? The toll exchange building they constructed in Oakland was even recognized by the Architectural Institute of America. Having a background in construction is incredibly beneficial. San Francisco as a whole learned a great deal about the relationship of soil to stability, especially in the Marina District. A lot of the homes in that area are soft story — their garage is the ground floor — and that often leads to an unstable base. [...] brass that’s allowed to develop a patina should have some longevity. A living finish will always age better than something artificial. Outside California, I helped with the remodel of the clubhouse at the Edgewood at Tahoe golf resort. Founded in 1998, the namesake firm is headed by third-generation architect and native San Franciscan Aleck Wilson. Contact: 26 O’Farrell St., Suite 400, Union Square, San Francisco.

Tiburoncontemporaryatop paradise

Wed, 13 Jul 2016 17:06:20 UT

Homes are always in high demand here, and 5 Barner Lane — a five-bedroom contemporary with an acre of pristine landscaping — will be no exception. [...] the residence enjoys superlative indoor-outdoor living, a refined kitchen, designer lighting, spa bathrooms, environmentally conscious inclusions and no shortage of digital age infrastructure. “It’s sheer luxury, stylish living and tranquil relaxation in a prime location,” said Shana Rhode-Lynch of Pacific Union Real Estate, who is listing the upscale home for $5.75 million. Rhode-Lynch heaps praise on landscape architect Jay Thayer, who installed winding stone pathways and native plantings to complement the home’s rose gardens and hot tub with bay views. Lutron’s Grafik Eye system harmonizes natural light with designer lighting by Anna Kondolf & Associates for optimal illumination at all hours of the day. A surround sound system establishes the media room as the place to watch a movie, championship match or play video games for hours on end. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the main level’s office should keep telecommuters from feeling couped up, while built-in electrical hookups, file cabinets and recessed shelving embody efficiency. The Sanda Bird-designed kitchen comes with Miele dishwashers, a six-burner Dacor range, dual ovens, and a Sub-Zero refrigerator — amenities that bode equally well for simple family dinners and large celebrations. The plethora of electronics and smart home capabilities can take substantial power, so 27 solar panels atop the home help carry the burden. [...] renewable energy only goes so far, so crews devoted extra attention to the home’s electrical system. Installing a 400-amp service panel increased the home’s overall capacity, and the use of natural gas helps distribute the workload and downsize the carbon footprint. Designer amenities abound in this luxurious five-bedroom surrounded by Connecticut Bluestone terraces, lush lawns, meticulous landscaping and panoramic views.

Fresh salad at sea: Navy considers gardens aboard subs

Tue, 5 Jul 2016 21:18:21 UT

When a Navy submarine goes to sea on a monthslong voyage, the lettuce, tomatoes and other fresh fruits and vegetables on board run out in a week or two, forcing the crew to rely on canned, frozen or dehydrated products. The U.S. military is testing out the idea by growing plants hydroponically — that is, with nutrient solution instead of soil — inside a 40-foot shipping container on dry land at a laboratory outside Boston. Engineering technician Don Holman, who grew up on a farm in Michigan before serving 30 years in the Navy, is running the $100,000 project at the Army’s Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center. When you give someone something they want, it improves their morale. [...] they perform better when morale is up, said Holman, who will present a technical report in September so the Navy can decide whether to attempt gardening beneath the sea.

Bucolic bliss in Bolinas

Fri, 10 Jun 2016 20:50:37 UT

Properties aren’t always available here, especially one with the backstory of 104 Upper Terrace Ave., a 1-acre parcel that housed a dairy farm in the 19th century. Picturesque landscapes stretch in every direction from the home flanked by vibrant gardens and towering cypress trees. A tree swing and hammock add to the carefree ambience radiating from the timeless property. Native plantings and pathways lead to a brick barbecue that doubles as a meeting place for the nearby cottage and guesthouse. Built in 1880, the main house personifies Craftsman country charm with a covered front porch, wraparound verandas and plenty of period details. The dining room enjoys the warmth of a wood-burning stove, and French doors off the library open to an expansive lawn. Outside, the refurbished former creamery a few paces off the kitchen houses a laundry area and home office-writing studio. Salmon and striped bass congregating off the shoreline entice anglers to charter a fishing boat or take their own. Though the unincorporated community in Marin County covers less than 6 square miles, it is one of the few spots north of San Francisco along the coastline that isn’t protected by the state or federal government. A smattering of farm stands offer local produce, and locals rave about the barbecued oysters at the Coastal Cafe. [...] they’ve been known to roost in the grove of Eucalyptus trees along the property line. From the picket fence, to the tree swing, hammock and wraparound porch, the 1-acre lot embodies country living. The three-bedroom, one-bathroom main home dates back to 1880, and the listing includes a one-bedroom, one-bathroom guesthouse, as well as a cottage and refurbished barn that once housed a creamery.

Real estate couple create oasis in St. Helena with resort amenities

Fri, 10 Jun 2016 20:45:10 UT

Real estate couple create oasis in St. Helena with resort amenities Ted Deikel and wife, Pamala, operate a thriving real estate development and design firm bearing their name. [...] their magnum opus — their private home in the hills of St. Helena known as Round Hill — comes in the form of a 21-acre property and its palatial seven-bedroom compound. “When we saw this property, we saw that there was a view that we could not replicate,” Ted Deikel said of 101 Rutherford Hill Road, the estate they purchased in 2010 and have listed for $25 million. Resort amenities, exquisite architecture and dramatic 225-degree views of the Napa Valley await future residents and their guests. A roughly 10,000-square-foot main house with two guest suites and a private staff apartment rightfully earns the most attention, but the landscape also includes both a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom guesthouse. Retractable walls of glass connect a great room to a western terrace housing an infinity pool, spa and a sheltered outdoor kitchen. The home’s genius rests in its dual-purpose design. Public rooms are spacious enough for grand galas and fundraisers, yet warm and conducive to everyday living. A full kitchen on the lower level provides a place to knock out all the prep work for a catered affair. The home’s elevator establishes a shortcut between the caterer’s kitchen and the festivities. Results like these stem from the Deikels embracing a formula for a successful marriage and business partnership. Entrepreneur Ted Deikel has led e-commerce and cable companies, as well as real estate development. A veteran of the Marine Corps, Ted Deikel’s success is a byproduct of methodical planning and decisive action. There’s a waterfall along the way, and the driveway wraps around an island with tropical plantings. Light and heat also come from the outdoor fireplace, and the two fireplaces on opposite sides of the great room. The infinity edge pool overlooks Quintessa Winery, and we wanted to accentuate that. The winery has a semicircular facade, and the arched outer edge of our pool shares that same angle. The landscape hosts a hobby Cabernet vineyard, as well as multiple detached structures — like the pool house, guesthouse and cottage.