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!
I’m very excited to see the finished house. It sounds like the plaster will be replaced with wallboard? I’m sure that’s the reasonable thing to do, but you know me and all the rustic, original, time worn materials. So glad for the items you describe that will go back into the house. I enjoyed the before photos and of course, you’re signature beautiful wall treatments. I’m right there with you, anxiously going through the process and waiting for the finish line. Your house is going to be something really special and unique.
thank you for sharing your amazing adventure with us! I know this home will be spectacular and i am enjoying the ride.
It is going to be STUNNING!!! Every butterfly must go through the Chrysalis stage to become the beauty that is within. You have to see the breakdown, the ugly, the old, the worn and used, and then you so have the ideas and the beauty in your head as to how it will be , once a again, a crown jewel on the bay! What an adventure! And what a blessing to have such great contractors along with you on this ride. I cannot imagine the cost in the wake of this pandemic and soaring construction costs, but the final beautiful lady that she is to be, will be so worth all this effort and money. Your dreams will be imagined and then come to fruition! I love these transformations! Thank you for sharing them with all of us. It is truly a historical and a once in a lifetime project! Can’t wait to see her but love seeing her transformations.
I love the way you’re maximizing all the spectacular views!
“The caterpillar resting on the stem of a plant
Anchored itself with its silk thread and
Waited and waited for time to pass,
Resting for nature to run its course.
The caterpillar turned into a chrysalis
And hung on the stem blowing in the breeze.
The chrysalis warmed in the sun’s golden rays
And slowly things began to change.
The chrysalis opens and a butterfly emerges
From the debris and stands on the stalk
Slowly enlarging its wings waiting patiently
For time to pass before taking its place in the world
……David Wood “Chrysalis”
Oh my…how beautiful!
Linda, I can hardly wait to see the finished masterpiece! This is some kind of documentation you are doing. Really fascinating!
You are doing a great job communicating this unbelievable journey! Thanks. Love it! M
You are a remarkable writer!
This is the most exciting chrysalis I have ever seen! Aren’t we lucky, Linda fans?!?
Looking forward to the journey with you 🧡
Linda and Marshall,
These pictures gave me goosebumps,
I am so excited to see the kitchen.
That large window is going to give you a different artwork every morning and evening how absolutely lucky you both are.
I can’t wait to come and cook in your kitchen if Linda you would let me I know you’re a become a fantastic cook lately.
Much love to both of you
…in disbelief here in the mission district…how could that wonderful house/home ever need a repair or a redecoration?…good luck…
Oh Linda! Your knowledge of all the work that is going on and your amazing ability to communicate it is taking us all on an incredible journey! We are dreaming right along with you and Marshall. The chrysalis is such a perfect analogy. David Woods’ poem is wonderful. Can’t wait for your beautiful butterfly to emerge and grace our beautiful Bay❣️
This is a real focus on your views, your historic site, and the possibilities which await at each stage of your process. And as always, thank you for taking us along. A perfect analogy, a chrysalis!
You’ve most likely heard of the book, The Book of Awakening, by Mark Nepo…for early morning posts to start your day. It reminds me of your path at the moment.
August 9th post, by Goethe: “So long as you haven’t experienced this: to die and so to grow, you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth.”
Mr. Nepo is/was a cancer survivor, and his posts are meaningful, insightful, and inspiring, and I think you might find something pertinent on your path.