It’s chrysalis time at Golden Gate – a metaphor for the sheltered state when caterpillars transform into butterflies. It’s a transitional phase when structures are undefined and un-presentable. It’s messy for a while when the old form drops away to make room for a new expression of life. Chrysalis literally means “gold sheath”- when a shell or casing breaks open to free a butterfly’s wings.
Removing the Layers
I lost sight of the beauty of Golden Gate during the first three months of her demolition as I painfully witnessed the removal of a century of smashable timeworn layers – one by one.
First, the withdrawal of foggy-paned, decaying windows and doors, leaving gaping rectangular holes in every room. Next, the sound of scraping the thick crumbly sheath of lath and plaster off interior walls into musty piles.
And finally, the crew’s Herculean efforts slinging crowbars and sledgehammers to extricate the cracked and crusty, dirty white stucco shell clinging to the exterior surface.
But OMG – we sensed the antiquated framing beneath the layers was speckled with damage, but who knew it was shellshocked?
I was staggered by what our historic home looked like in such an exposed state. So, I pulled out photos I had previously taken of the interior rooms and began daydreaming. I visualized creating a feeling in each room that nods to the structure’s Spanish Revival roots yet looks current, fresh, ancient and edgy – if that’s even possible.
The Family Room
Take a glance at how the rooms looked before the decimation and what they look like now as the process unfolds. The family room, a favorite space off the kitchen, has a tiny arched brick fireplace at one end and French doors with a balcony at the other. I envision Spanish-inspired library shelves stacked floor to ceiling and above the French door to hold books.
The floor in this room is sloping 4″ to the west because the foundation is subsiding. In preparation to remedy this issue, our amazing crew removed the French doors, lath and plaster, then lighting plus ceiling and floor materials. The room was braced with sturdy diagonal 2″x 12″ beams to keep the walls from falling while the house is leveled.
The Great Room
Some of the double pane door panels fogged on the bifold wooden doors we installed twenty years ago in the dining and living room. This large space will have a pair of arched brick fireplaces at either end, with a 16′ wide opening to the terrace.
Here’s an image of the great room torn down to the studs without the previous bifold doors. A layer of sand remains on the terrace after the 100-year-old bricks were removed. I enjoy looking through the sizable orifices in each room now, that beautifully frame the unobstructed views.
I have never featured the tiny Golden Gate kitchen in my blog, although it is quaint with a rustic terracotta tile floor, old fashioned yellow cabinets and authentic antique hardware. But the dated, black double wall ovens, dishwasher, funky cooktop and cheap microwave above, scream obsolete. We removed the wall between my runty former office and the miniscule kitchen to make room for a larger stove, two small refrigerators and friends who like to cook.
The beam will be removed, and the ceiling height raised from 7′9″ to 8′9″. There will be a 9′ long bank of windows measuring 62″ high from the kitchen counter to the ceiling. The view is west to the hills of Sausalito and the Bay.
The Upstairs Bedroom
Once the primary bedroom, this space will become a combination guest room and upstairs office for Marshall. We’re raising the height of the French door and replacing the archaic windows. Marshall’s desk will sit in a niche carved out of the large connecting closet on the opposite side of the room.
You may recognize this image from the last blog, but it’s the only one I have that shows what this room looks like now. Once again, the slanted bracing beams and vertical posts at either end will stabilize this room while we replace the foundation.
The Upstairs Bathroom
Unlike other rooms, this image was taken before the decorative elements were detached. The old leaded windows will be replaced, and a rustic wooden beam installed at the peak of the ceiling.
The slanted ceiling you see in the image below will stay intact but the floor and sidewalls will be removed. Ultimately, guests will enter through the original front door on the main level to encounter a two-story foyer with stairs leading to a second level balcony below the slanted ceiling pictured below.
A Heartfelt Thanks
I appreciate you bearing witness to these “before and after” rooms. I’m grateful the blog forces me to track the process through its topsy turvy paces, undoing the exterior and interior structures of our old-world home.
It will be a while before the caterpillar turns into a butterfly, but I hope you will join me as the chrysalis process unfolds. Your comments invigorate me through this ragged, untidy and chaotic chapter of resurrecting the long-standing grace and beauty of Golden Gate. Thanks to all of you for your support!