ADU Victorian Dig-Out

Alameda, California

This beautiful Victorian home was originally designed by developer and architect Joseph Leonard in the Leonardville neighborhood of Alameda in the 1890’s. Our clients, members of a family with six children, grew up in this house, so they have close ties to the community and a strong emotional attachment to the place. When they decided to add an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) their top priority was a design that would be harmonious with the original Victorian home. Combining vintage details with up-to-date finishes, we created a light, bright ADU that channels modern Victorian style

First, we renovated and updated the original house, making repairs and making it more useful and flexible for the family’s current lifestyles. At the same time, the original details and structure of the house were preserved, both for the integrity of the house and the owners’ personal memories.

Underneath the original first floor, we dug out the basement to gain a full floor of additional living space for a large two bedroom, two bath Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), which gives options for rental income or additional living space for the extended family, and helps make the house a viable financial asset. Original features like bay window alcoves and period-style woodwork bring the home’s historic character into the ADU’s design. However, a spacious open floor plan and sleek kitchen and bathroom finishes make this a convenient, livable modern Victorian apartment.

Lightwells alongside the house allow for normal-height windows to bring light and openness to these rooms, while leaving the original house at its original height above the ground. The dig-out goes past the building at the back to create a private lower patio for the ADU, extending their living space outside and washing the interior with light from French doors and windows to the patio. Stairs from the patio to the yard and a side path give the ADU an entry that feels separate from the main unit’s space.

Photography: Kurt Manley

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“When we decided to renovate our family home in Alameda, we searched for an experienced architect with knowledge of historical architecture. Our Queen Anne Victorian was virtually unchanged since it was built in 1895 and needed upgrades to the foundation, electrical, heating, and plumbing systems. Additionally, we wanted to add an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) to the basement without changing the look of the home. We choose Saikley Architects for the job and are so glad we did.

Alexandra and her team designed a beautiful remodel of the main house to include expanding the kitchen, rearranging walls, adding a bathroom/laundry room to the main floor, and restoring the Victorian front porch. Additionally, they designed a stunning 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom basement ADU that blends perfectly with the style of the house. We could not be more pleased with how the project turned out.” – Client