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Slipping Into Something More Comfortable

A gutted Noe Valley Victorian ditches the frills.

The bathroom

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The blue globes of this custom pendant by Geremia Design complement the home's moody new facade.

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Copper penny tiles cover the walls of the guest bathroom used by the couple's one-year-old son.

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Designer Lauren Geremia persuaded the owners to paint their Victorian a monochrome navy blue.

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The breakfast nook doubles as an arts and crafts table for Baxter's play dates—the fabric upholstery is designed to be spill-resistant and easy to clean.

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The magnetic hot-rolled steel fireplace in the living room is topped with a photograph-covered mirror by artist Guillermo R. Gudiño.

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Photographs by Catherine Wagner complement the downstairs reading nook. Construction crews excavated the lot's existing hill to make way for the new sublevel.

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A swan photograph by Will Rogan in the serene master bedroom.

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How do you double the size of a historic Victorian while preserving its facade? “Mole-hole it,” says designer Lauren Geremia, who oversaw the renovation of this Noe Valley home. Before she came on board, construction crews stripped the house down to the studs, dropped the foundation two feet, and excavated the front hill—hauling off 25 semi-trailers’ worth of dirt in the process. The new sublevel would contain three bedrooms and two baths, allowing Geremia the space to blow out the kitchen and living room upstairs.

The owners, Matt Dixon, a coach for elite endurance athletes, and Kelli McMaster, who works in ad sales at Google, wanted a wide-open, modern home for hosting dinner parties and houseguests. They also knew that it needed to be kid-friendly: McMaster became pregnant with their son, Baxter, the following year. “We wanted it to be designed, but not pretentious,” she says.

For her part, Geremia gravitates toward risk-taking, outside-the-box clients. It was she who persuaded the couple to paint their home a monochromatic navy blue. She covered the walls of Baxter’s bathroom—“The nicest kid bathroom ever,” declares McMaster—in copper penny tiles, pretty money for a one-year-old. “I wanted something fun and flip but not super-juvenile, so he won’t hate it by the time he’s 12,” Geremia says. She customized the bulk of the home’s features, from the netlike light fixture glowing above the stairwell—an antique prop that she found in Belgium and had rewired—to the magnetic hot-rolled steel fireplace and closet in the living room, which now bear family photos. “They really let me go for it,” Geremia says, though there was one exception to her creative free rein. “Originally,” she admits, “I wanted to paint the whole house red.”

 

Originally published in the January issue of San Francisco

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