SEEING THE LIGHT
Diego Pacheco Design Practice’s “tunnel
vision” makes architectural sense.
WHEN THEY BOUGHT IT three years ago, Barb Chambers and Joe
Vernachio’s 1940s two-story Mill Valley home, on a large upsloping lot
and with white stucco facade and red-clay-tiled roof, had stood unchanged
for nearly 75 years.
To help with a remodel, Chambers, who had worked in the past as a
building construction manager, enlisted designer Diego Pacheco, whom
she had teamed with on a previous renovation project and whose architectural practice is based in San Francisco. Her goal was to modernize and
enlarge the 2,300-square-foot home to better accommodate her family,
including two children ages 14 and 12. But, she told Pacheco, there were
some ground rules.
“There are others houses just like it built in a row, and Barb just did not
want to disturb the prevailing aesthetic,” the designer says.
So the Mediterranean Spanish/California–style facade appears
untouched, but inside and in back, where there was little need for restraint,
they added vast improvements and 500 square feet of living space.
“The interior was cramped and dark and there was no connection to the
outdoors,” Pacheco recalls. After the old lath-and-plaster walls were torn
down or stripped to bare studs, “we quickly filled the house with light.”
How? The back section of the hipped roof was raised into a gable shape
that extends out to cover the rear addition, and a long skylight in the middle
BY REED WRIGHT MAKEOVER
Top to bottom: The new
dining area, with a wall-hung
credenza by Henrybuilt,
looks out on an upsloping
terraced garden with outdoor
seating; from outside there
is a clear view of the front
rooms inside; the old rear
yard before the extension.