» Overlooking the city of San Francisco and the neighboring bay, this 7,500-square-foot 1960s house on Mt. Tiburon had undergone several renovations over the past four decades before its most recent remodel. 'It was built as a passive solar building,' says San Francisco-based Steven Miller, the interior designer charged with updating the residence's interiors. While building an addition, previous owners had enclosed the window walls in the atrium-styled living and dining rooms, and the solar qualities were eliminated. Before, the house was a hybrid of styles-part Craftsman, part barn. The current renovation, undertaken for the new owners, was informed by the architecture and aimed, according to Miller, 'to embrace the Craftsman aesthetic and bring it into the twenty-first century.'

'The house is a jewel box. The clients did not want lighting fixtures to interfere with the architecture of the space,' says Claudio Ramos, who with Hiram Banks (both of the San Francisco lighting design firm H.E. Banks + Associates), created a lighting scheme that blends concealed recessed and decorative fixtures to provide multiple layers of light. The system takes advantage of the architecture, while enhancing the new interior furnishings.

The window walls in the living room have been restored, and a neutral color palette has been established with pale warm shades in the living and dining rooms, and accent walls adjacent to the stairwell rendered in olive and pumpkin. 'We further updated it with ebonized oak floors, so there is a visual grounding, because of the height of the space,' says Miller.

The 20-foot ceilings and extensive network of wood beams, which accentuate the 'loft-like' feeling, proved to be key in relighting the living and dining room spaces.The owners also wanted their extensive art collection, which adorns the walls of these rooms, highlighted. 'Lighting the dramatic interior was challenging. The wood beams are dark, the floor is dark-tobacco brown, almost black-and there are lots of glass windows,' says Ramos.
A plus for Ramos and Banks was that the wood beams had been sandblasted during a prior renovation and were still in good condition. 'We thought, let's hide the fixtures as much as possible,' explains Ramos. Light fixtures are mounted within the ceiling beam structure. The gap between the lower parallel truss chords is closed with a continuous regressed cap to provide a surface for low-voltage linear uplights. A raceway conceals the wiring. The side of the upper chord houses track with adjustable AR111 lamps selected for their tight beam control and visual comfort. The lower beams are fitted with UV-filtered MR16 lamps that focus on the artwork. With this concealed system of illumination, which provides an ambient glow and highlights vivid paintings, only the light is seen, and not the fixtures from which it emanates.

Task and supplementary general illumination come from a range of decorative fixtures, all chosen to blend with the interior furnishings. The most notable decorative fixture is the Noguchi pendant suspended in a corner of the living room. Chosen by the lighting designers for its scale, this pendant was originally designed to hold two standard A-lamps.
'The Noguchi fixture is a beautiful artwork, but for our project we eliminated the A-lamps, rewired it, and installed linear low-voltage striplights in every segment to produce a more even, glowing illumination,' Ramos explains.

In the dining room, pendants by CX continue the rounded flowing lines of the Noguchi luminaire, and yet complement the clean-lined dining table and chairs.

Past truly meets present in the blending of the well-tooled structural features of this Craftsman-styled home with state-of-the-art lighting technologies and techniques. Without damaging its authenticity, the architecture is utilized to house an unobtru-sive, multi-layered lighting system. The decorative pendants pay homage to the rich Craftsman tradition in the quality of their styling and materials. Together, these varied lighting elements are masterfully integrated with expert focusing and controls into this unique mountain-top retreat, making it a study in lighting design success.

Wanda Jankowski

project Lemieux Residence, Tiburon, CA
architect Butler Armsden Architects, San Francisco
lighting designer H.E. Banks + Associates, San Francisco
photographer Claudio Ramos
manufacturers Akari, Ardee, capril Lighting, CX, G.E., Juno Lighting, Lightolier, Phoenix Day, Tokistar