When Sonia Kimotsuki and Alden Huen first began sending ideas to designer Jay Jeffers about what they wanted their remodeled home to look like, they began with photos of hotels. It was, in part, a consequence of the cross-country life they had lived for several years. After buying the previously three-unit Marina house in 2003, which they, for years, managed and rented out to two other tenants, Kimotsuki was eventually transferred by her company, Goldman Sachs, out east. Her husband, though, was already settled in his job at Cisco. “We had bought a place in New York, and we were kind of going back and forth,” Kimotsuki says from her home’s cozily chic kitchen. “Literally, we did that for five years.”
The couple would take turns flying to opposite coasts each week, in the process racking up travel points that resulted in some additional getaways. But their Marina house on Beach Street was always there. In fact, for more than 20 years, Beach Street itself has always been there—before Kimotsuki and Huen moved into their current home, they lived right across the street.
In her closet, Kandy by Elitis wallpaper peeks from behind the Kenwood Cabinetry shelving.
It’s this long history and relationship to the area and the house—where they are now building a family with their 8-year old son, Ethan—that contributes to the home’s alluring mixture of modern sleekness and colorful warmth.
The exterior was painted, and a new entry gate and garage doors were added during the remodel.
“They have that energy the minute you meet them, so I definitely wanted this house to feel happy,” Jeffers says of Kimotsuki and Huen, who were so taken with the designer’s work, they largely entrusted him with the remodel’s vision. “When we’re doing a home, we want it to feel sophisticated and elevated and unique, but I definitely wanted to give you a sense of happiness when you come into the space.”
Vintage Milo Baughman chairs in the master bedroom sit in front of shelves that house two of Wendy Robushi’s mixed- media artworks.
At the top of the home’s inverted floor plan (the bottom-most floor of the now two-unit house is still rented out), the kitchen, sharing space with the living room, has the fixings of Jeffers’ elegant efficiency, with clean marble countertops and appliances that hide into surfaces, such as the wood-exterior refrigerator. Yet, the kitchen island extends into an inviting wooden banquette, carrying pillows that provide a splash of color and enough space for a kids’ hangout. The banquette is paired with a modestly sized blackened-ash dining table—another choice that emphasizes comfortable functionality into its modern look.
Amanda Wright pendant lights hang over the vintage Kai Kristiansen chairs and AKMD dining table in the kitchen.
Up a flight of stairs, a gorgeous rooftop view of the Golden Gate Bridge can be enjoyed from a dining table primed for sunny Sundays. Downstairs, a short hallway leads to the master bedroom—complete with a luxurious, light-filled shower with marble benches—and Ethan’s bedroom, where a bunk bed allows him to dive off into a beanbag chair.
A Camerich LA light hangs in the master bedroom. The headboard is made of large geometric panels that were executed by Arden Home.
“Do you want us to add more?” Victoria Nady, a senior designer with Jay Jeffers, asks Kimotsuki, before Ethan takes a plunge into the now depleted orange chair. Seemingly every element of the house, even the pellets in the beanbag chair, was touched by the remodel.
In the kid’s room, orange is incorporated with a Lujo beanbag, custom drapes from Leong Interiors and flooring from Flor tiles.
“Pretty much all of the walls were knocked down, except for the outside walls, and everything was rebuilt and moved around,” Jeffers says, citing his partnership with Apparatus Architecture on the project. “But what we did have that sort of anchored the entire space were those arched windows in the front of the house.”
The exterior windows and the crown moldings, along with the high ceilings and the house’s facade, all stayed. Amid the overhaul, there remains a sense of the lived-in, of the Marina soul, within the home. From the outside, despite a simple paint job, the house fits in like any other home on Beach Street.
“That was really important to us. Because we loved and lived in the neighborhood for so long, we really wanted to make sure we weren’t trying to change it,” Kimotsuki says. Inside, little has been changed since Jeffers completed his work. After the remodel, it still feels like the place they’ve occupied for 15 years. “Every element, it feels like home.”
Originally published in the July issue of San Francisco
Photography by: Photos By Matthew Millman