The “public” floor is wide open … one big space with alcoves.

Inefficient and Cramped: that’s how architect Jared Polsky found his two-story cabin built on a steep slope in Larkspur, California. An awkward L-shaped living room and a bedroom occupied the entire entry level; below lay the kitchen and a bathroom.

Setback limitations prevented extending beyond the original foundation, so Polsky gutted the interior and redefined it with a “public” and a “private” floor. He moved the kitchen up to the “public” space and put two bedrooms and bathrooms below.

So that the living area would seem larger than it really is, Polsky made the rooms as open as possible. Thus the upper floor became a single space, divided into quadrants by a system of overhead crossbeams. The kitchen, study, and a sitting area occupy new alcoves off three sides of the central living space. Two of the alcoves were built over the wider floor below. The study sits under an elevated garage.

A new stair in the center also helps divide the main floor. Four 4-by-4 posts rise from the sides of the stairwell to support (with help from the crossbeam system) a new hip roof capped by a skylit cupola.

Ceiling, posts, and beams are redwood.

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