OUT of the BOX
“IT SOUNDS CRAZY BUT IT’S GONNA WORK.”
This was architect David Wilson’s silent mantra when he first hatched the
plan to build a temporary dwelling inside his house in the Berkeley Hills.
The “crate,” as Wilson referred to it, would allow him and his wife, physician Stacia Cronin, to remain in their home during planned renovations
instead of moving into a costly rental.
Wilson and Cronin are empty-nesters whose kids are grown. They
decided to embark on their architectural adventure after purchasing an
unassuming 1,000-square-foot prewar cottage in 2011. Its large level lot
and expansive bay views were hard to come by, and they devised a two-step
renovation that would let them completely transform the house without
tearing it down and starting from scratch.
The first phase involved the street-facing side of the house. Acting as his
own general contractor, Wilson enclosed a carport to form a garage and
entry courtyard, added a bedroom and updated the kitchen.
The couple lived with this initial update for a few years while they
perfected their approach for an even more ambitious phase two. They
finalized plans to reorganize the living spaces and add a second-story
master suite above a spacious dining room addition.
That would mean months of construction, but “we just didn’t want to
move,” Wilson says.
WILSON BUILT A CRATE
IN THE MIDDLE OF HIS
SO HE AND HIS WIFE
WOULDN’T HAVE TO
BY SARAH MOLINE
PHOTOGRAPHS BY DAVID WILSON