A young family bucks tradition to personalize their home with new materials, natural light, and kid-friendly details

Materials throughout this house were chosen carefully to maximize light, durability, and ease of cleaning.

Mark and Carol Lerdal’s lifestyle didn’t match their surroundings. A couple with four active kids, an interest in energy conservation, and a love for all things modern, including art photography and furniture, they lived in a traditional San Francisco Edwardian ― dark, with small, confined rooms.

So they decided to give their house an extreme makeover.

“The Lerdals wanted an open, fluid space that would bring in more light,” says architect Byron Kuth. “We also wanted to create living and play areas that were better integrated.”

At its heart, the Lerdal residence is now a family home. Although the rooms are sophisticated, their multifunctional materials and uses make them suited for kids and adults.

A long, terrazzo-floored gallery runs the length of the house, bringing in light through large windows and glass doors at both ends.

Its walls are lined with Carol’s extensive collection of contemporary color photography, making it function as an art display.

Next: See the hall 

But the hall-like gallery also acts as a superhighway for kids on their way to the lower-level playroom or backyard.

“The terrazzo floor is tough and durable, hides dirt, and stands up to muddy boots,” Kuth says.

Instead of keeping areas closed off with walls, “we differentiated spaces with materials and light,” the architect explains. “The living room, dining room, and kitchen opening off the gallery have wood floors, indicating more domestic spaces.”

The scale of the rooms provides another clue to how the Lerdals live. The living room is only one-third the size of the combined kitchen and dining room, since gathering informally as a family takes priority.

Next: A novel use of materials 

The novel use of industrial materials ― from acrylic plastic railing panels to rubber stair treads ― reinforces the family-friendly approach.

The overall result is a modern home that’s a true reflection of how its owners live. “The Internet has opened up a whole new world of industrial materials for residential architects,” Kuth says.

“We’ve been able to find materials that are tougher and less expensive than some of the usual ones used in homes. This makes a lot of sense for a family.”

DESIGN: Byron Kuth and Elizabeth Ranieri, Kuth/Ranieri Architects, San Francisco (www.kuthranieri.com or 415/544-9880)

CONSTRUCTION: Tommy Hicks and Chris Whitney, Object Assembly, San Francisco (415/822-8565)