Rope Swing Kitchen

By Dan Gregory

Here's how one family takes flight, thanks to a design by Feldma

San Francisco architect Jonathan Feldman is known for contemporary eco-savvy designs, but he also knows how to add an element of surprise. Take his firm's assignment here, an extensive remodel and addition for a San Francisco family with three active boys. A soaring open kitchen/dining/family zone is the heart of the home. And then there is that swing dangling from the top of the space  and shown above, embodying the lively energy of the design. It is suspended from an acoustically separate home office at the top of the house.

As Feldman Architecture associate Abigail Bliss writes: "Ringed with a steel staircase, this cavernous vertical space is often full of the clamor of boys bouncing off the walls, running their house through cycles of chaos and control, with their mother, Nicole, presiding over the activity from its central hub in the kitchen. 'The house completely deconstructs when everyone is in it, but this is a house that my kids can’t break.  We built this house to use it,' she says." 

Abigail continues: "And use it, they do. On weekday nights, the family’s oldest son camps out at the corner of the table in the dining room at the front of the house, a pile of homework in front of him; his younger brother spreads his toys across the floor of the family room; and the third perches on one of the red stools at the kitchen island, close to his mother. 'This is where the school bus drops off. This is my corner of the world,' Nicole says of the kitchen." Abigail's description is compelling and vividly expresses how a house can embody the life of its inhabitants. 

The Feldman firm also designed  contemporary cottage Plan 517-1, shown below, which has a zig-zag

energy to its very efficient three-part layout: carport, great room, master suite. Shown in this

distant view, the cottage settles discretely into its rolling country landscape (Joe Fletcher photography).

There are myriad ways to get your home to express your individuality, even with a ready-made plan. And,

sticking with rope, for example, here's how architect Sarah Susanka created a  short railing in Plan 454-3.

Or why not slide a desk into one corner of your bedroom as architect Cathy Schwabe did in her compact cabin Plan 891-3. A simple hollow-core door will do the trick! Or find a niche and fill it with what is called a 

tokonoma in Japan, which is a recessed space for artistic display, as architect Nir Pealson did in Plan 890-1. Indeed, the only real limit to personalizing your house plan is at the edge of your imagination.

February 4, 2016


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