A Welcome Challenge for Contractors in the Bay Area
This year we have seen a common theme emerge in our San Francisco projects: how do you create a sense of garden and outdoor living on a small city plot? At 5th Avenue we achieved this with tall windows and glass panels overlooking the yard, while Washington Street’s accordion doors opened the kitchen directly to a garden and outdoor seating area.
Now in the second phase of our Fair Oaks remodel, we utilize an even smaller space to give a sense of outdoors to this family of four. Keep reading to find out how we transformed a single driveway into a carport and patio that serves multiple functions.
When we first started working on Fair Oaks, the kitchen looked on to a driveway and parking area sandwiched between neighboring houses. Not only was the side yard awkward and unattractive, but it offered nothing of a play area to the family’s two young kids. We collaborated with the homeowners to design a carport that doubles as a patio and play area to meet their goal of preserving parking while creating an outdoor living space.
Downstairs, the carport provides day-to-day space for the kids to swing and practice headstands while parents keep an eye on them from the kitchen. For special events, the car can be parked on the street to make space for ball games, party caterers or movie projections. The versatility of the concrete parking structure opens up endless opportunities for creative use.
One of our favorite building solutions is the stairway leading from the lower to upper deck. The design has architectural expression while serving a practical function with its custom fabricated painted steel. Cable dividers are strung between steel railings for a durable, low maintenance exterior staircase. As the stairs turn a corner, a fence of clear vertical grain cedar brings privacy and warmth to the upper patio.
Upstairs, the kids can roll around on astroturf or pull toys from their redwood and fiberglass play structure. The patio, made from easy-to-clean encaustic cement tile, is perfect for mom and dad to enjoy a glass of wine or sunset dinners. RAB spotlights are activated with fading daylight while step lighting along the parapet creates a charming evening setting.
Where there was once a clunky staircase, a glass catwalk now connects the upper patio to the upstairs hallway. This walkway acts both a means of egress and as a roof for the space below. The blue glass striped frit pattern gives traction to the walkable glass and also becomes a light entry point for the downstairs area. If the kids (or adults) opt for a more creative escape from the upper patio, they can jump on the fire pole and glide on down.
To finish off the package, this new carport doubles as an appealing new facade with its aluminum and frosted glass garage door. The stucco exterior is durable and low maintenance with classic blue stone accents leading to the carport entrance. To add a touch of personality and custom artwork, the homeowners commissioned Cradle of the Sun to make a stained glass piece that welcomes guests through the side entry.
Contractors in the Bay Area are often faced with the challenge to make the most of small spaces and especially small backyards. With the help of creative design, what was once a forgotten parking space now opens up an entire outdoor living space for this young family. From formal entertaining to casual movie nights and games of catch, a simple carport becomes a blank canvas for this creative city family to get outdoors.