Victorian Kitchen Garners Firm’s 1st Chrysalis Award

History has a habit of repeating itself, and not always in a good way. However, in the case of this circa-1898 Victorian home in the heart of San Francisco, history did repeat itself in very good way. It was completely transformed by Podesta Construction Inc. into a modern-day replica with a new functional floorplan, expanded space and a large kitchen that stands as a contemporary representation of the Victorian era.

The San Francisco-based, full-service general contracting firm, which specializes in kitchen and bath remodels, additions and whole-house renovations, was so pleased with the end result that it entered the project into the 2006 Chrysalis Awards.

The firm, which executed the remodel and addition, worked with San Francisco-based David S. Gast & Associates, Architects on the project.

“We felt it was worthy of competition [because of the] design and quality of work. [We believed that its] wonderful design, great use of space and natural light, and its blending of old Victorian features in such a small house were quite an achievement,” recalls the firm’s v.p., Matt Podesta.

The judges of this year’s Chrysalis competition, who included the editors and writers of Better Homes & Gardens, Today’s Custom Home, Creative Homeowner and The American Institute of Building Design, felt the same way. Accordingly, they rewarded the firm’s efforts with the award for the Best Residential Historic Renovation.

The project was judged on “design, use of materials, use of space and integration into the existing space,” note contest

“This was the first year the firm entered the awards, and to take home top honors on the first attempt is impressive,” remarks Ken Kanline, director of the competition, which was sponsored by Stock Building Supply, KBDN sister publication Qualified Remodeler and Core12.

Since 1993, the Chrysalis Awards “have honored the finest remodeling projects in the nation that reflect the professional excellence of the residential and commercial remodeling industry. Our goal is to provide consumers, remodelers, designers, architects and editors with a resource for remodeling ideas and to identify those companies that produce award-winning work,” note contest organizers.

The contest consists of four regional competitions – Midwest, Northeast, West and South – that cover the entire country. Categories include Residential Historic Renovation, Residential Universal Design, Kitchen Remodel over $100,000, Bath Remodel Over $50,000, Whole House Remodel Over $500,000, and Remodeler of the Year for the Northeast, Midwest, Western and Southern regions, as well as for each state.

This year there were a total of 524 entries from all 50 states that spanned the four regions. Podesta Construction, along with 26 other remodeling companies from the West region, was honored at the ceremony and dinner for the 13th annual Chrysalis Awards for Remodeling Excellence in June at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, GA, during the Southern Building Show.

Here, Kitchen & Bath Design News spotlights the kitchen of Podesta Construction’s winning project.


The goal of the client was to maintain the home’s original period style inside and out, while introducing modern functionality into key rooms.

“The house is on San Francisco’s Historic Resources Inventory list of architecturally significant structures. It’s part of a row of similar Eastlake houses developed by Fernando Nelson, who is considered one of the ‘men who made San Francisco,’” notes Podesta.

His firm’s transformation of this Victorian home was sensitive to the history, carefully expanding the home’s overall living space and melding 21st-century functionality and style with the period of the home.

“Blending in several diverse finish materials to maintain the original aesthetics of the house required that all finishes be detailed to match the original style of the house, including windows and doors, hardware, cabinets, tile and floor finishes,” notes Podesta.

The house, located on an “up-sloping” lot, also had to be stripped to the framing and restored with an abundance of steel and modern engineered lumber after having suffered the ravages of time. Walls were relocated and rebuilt to provide for a new kitchen, pantry, stairway and family room. The garage was lowered to accommodate a utility room, laundry room and wine storage area, with improved access to the rear yard.

A small rear expansion increased the home’s height, and allowed for the new living room. The new second story also includes a master suite, tub deck, guest bath, plus two bedrooms that were the result of converted attic space. Each has access to a tiled roof deck.

“The second roof gable was lifted to allow conversion from low storage to upper bedroom spaces that open to exterior rear yard views from a stone deck,” elaborates Podesta. “The siding and round window style incorporates the same features as the original façade, thereby preserving the architectural character of the house.”

For the relocated kitchen, Podesta Construction devised a design for its “gourmet-cook client” in approximately 17'x12' of space.

“Because casual living and formal entertaining had to be within easy access of the kitchen, the kitchen was nestled between the family room and the dining room that utilizes the hutch that was in the original dining room,” explains Podesta. “Plaster picture and rose moldings, traditional trim and the highly detailed open stair vestibule create a cohesive feeling of Victoriana with the updated comforts.

“Transoms were used between the kitchen and living room to bring in more light. Recessed lights were used for most of the lighting. Undercabinet fluorescent lights were installed in the kitchen,” notes Podesta.

“Variation and abundance of countertop space, ease of access and movement, and adequate storage had to converge with the Victorian style,” continues Podesta. To achieve that balance, the firm installed custom cabinetry by J. Spinx to match the style of the house, along with stainless steel, marble and butcher block countertops. Additionally, a pantry includes large pull-out cabinets.

Millwork by Beronio and SF Victorian, island legs by Simmons Wood Turning, hardware from Accuride, Häfele and Blum, Inc., and appliances from Amana, Bosch and Viking complete the design.