El Cerrito

The original house was a modest two-bedroom dwelling situated at the bottom of a sloping lot with a small front yard. The original builder probably opted for a small footprint because of the difficulty of building on a steep backyard.

The house was adequate for a starter home, but it lacked the features and the flow that would make it comfortable for long-term living. For instance, neither of the bedrooms was spacious enough to serve as a master suite, and the only bathroom was cramped and outdated. The kitchen was tiny, inefficient, and isolated from the rest of the living space.


Our remodeling project aimed to expand the house from the rear wall without extensive digging into the sloping backyard. We converted the old kitchen into part of the living room and created a new kitchen in a portion of the existing concrete patio behind the house. We preserved the original bedrooms and bathroom in their current location and added a new master bedroom, master closet, and master bathroom on the north-east corner of the backyard – beyond the kitchen and living room. This section of the addition was raised six steps above the existing floor level to reduce the amount of excavation needed.

This solution not only saved money on excavation and retaining wall costs, but also created more privacy for the master bedroom and bathroom by raising them slightly above the public areas of the house (such as the living room and kitchen).

This project was a great example of how a design challenge can lead to a better outcome. We wanted to save money on excavation and retaining wall costs, so we decided to raise the master bedroom and master bath slightly above the living room and kitchen, which were more public spaces. This created a sense of privacy and separation for the master suite, while also allowing natural light and ventilation. 

We added a deck with a sliding door to the master bedroom, which enhanced the connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces. The deck faced south, which maximized the sun exposure and warmth. We also redesigned the front yard with new landscaping, stairs, walkways, and a porch, to give the house a fresh and inviting look. We were very pleased with the final result of this project, which met our budget and design goals.

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