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The Warmth of Raw Steel

Turning an 8,000-square-foot SoMa warehouse into a home—gym, screening room, and nursery included.

SLIDESHOW

Contractor Peter Englander added a new mezzanine level to the industrial home of Wilkes Bashford co-owner Tyler Mitchell and his wife, Stephanie Oshana.

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An oversized tome of Annie Leibovitz photographs is displayed on a tripod book stand in the reading room.

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Oshana’s stiletto-stacked master bedroom closet measures 7 by 18 feet. Mitchell has a similar version (sans heels).

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"This bathroom makes me want to be an interior designer," declares Mitchell, of the new guest bathroom. "I've never seen one I like as much, even on Pinterest."

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The new guest bedroom overlooks the living room through a wall of glass.

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Englander used steel framing and tongue-in-groove knotty pine flooring to complement the existing architecture.

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The kitchen banquette is framed in salvaged wood. Beyond, the glass-encased wine cellar holds 500 bottles.

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A 12-by-7-foot glass garage door divides the gym from the living room.

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How can you make 8,000 square feet of raw steel, black concrete, unfinished brass, and exposed pipes feel homey? Well, you can’t, exactly—it’s just too big. But you can retrofit it to reflect your passions, says Tyler Mitchell, co-owner of the Wilkes Bashford department store, who lives in this four-bedroom SoMa loft with his wife, Stephanie Oshana. For them, that meant incorporating a 1,000-square-foot indoor gym, bedroom-size closets, a glass-encased wine cellar, and a screening room for movie nights. Suddenly, even rusted steel felt inviting. 

The couple hired contractor Peter Englander last year to renovate their then-6,700-square-foot loft, the former office of an architectural firm. “Our space is huge, so we wanted a lot of bang for our buck,” says Mitchell. Taking advantage of the unit’s 17-foot-high ceilings, Englander built an entirely new 1,300-square-foot mezzanine containing a glass-walled guest bedroom, a nursery, a cinematic walk-in closet, a bathroom, and a bar.

Englander is known for combining a designer’s sensibility with an outside-the-box construction approach—a skill set particularly suited to this project, which amounted to a major structural overhaul. He and his team hauled more than 50 20-foot steel and wood beams—many weighing over 1,000 pounds—up the side of the building with a crane, then gingerly lowered them into the third-story unit through the windows.

Inside, a system of dollies and hoists lowered the beams into place. All the welding was performed onsite, a nerve-racking process that required cordoning off the family’s existing living areas. “On one side of this temporary partition, there’s all this beautiful art and decor,” says Englander. “On the other side, here we are firing up the welding torches. It was hair ball.”

Englander used the loft’s original framing as inspiration for the mezzanine: The challenge was in matching the new materials to the building’s decades-old bones. “We had to do it in a way so it looked like it had always been a part of the building,” he says. “A seamless transition between the old and the new.” The underside of the new floor is bolstered by 10-foot fir beams, and the surface was stained to match the existing rooms. Unfinished steel was left raw, and plumbing pipes were kept exposed to maintain the loft’s warehouse appeal. Even bookshelves were built from steel pipes. “The whole space has this sense of industrial glamour,” says Englander. The finishing touch was Mitchell’s conceit: a series of custom metal-and-glass garage doors that separate the entry and the gym from the living space. “We wanted everything exposed and dramatic,” he says, “but with a personalized finish.”


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