This Old Garage Was Transformed Into a Groundbreaking Artist’s Studio

The American firm Dumican Mosey Architects is responsible for the Bay Area’s trailblazing contemporary space.

The home improvement and interior design world is full of adaptive reuse these days; from treehouse homes to storage unit mansions, designers are finding ways to transform unusual spaces in extraordinary ways.

A prime example of this trend is San Francisco's SOMA Residence, an architectural feat achieved by the American firm Dumican Mosey Architects in 2018.
The firm transformed an old industrial building into a home, gallery and personal studio for a contemporary artist and her family. The trend of converting abandoned commercial buildings and warehouses into cozy residences has become mainstream over the past few decades. As more brick-and-mortar retailers give way to “The Amazon Effect” and bow to e-commerce, freeing up commercial space, designers of all types are finding innovative ways to take advantage of the buildings.
The SOMA House is located in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood and is a shining example of what can happen when innovative, creative people overtake an industrial space and make it their own. The downtown building was an abandoned auto repair garage dating all the way back to 1923 when artists Klari Reis and her partner Michael Isard first came upon it. According to the artist, the building was “dark, rundown and pungent with grease.”
The artist enlisted the help of interior designer and architect Eric Dumican to transform the old garage into something truly unique. After five years of work, the industrial space was renovated into a full-blown artist’s dream, featuring a residential loft, studio, gallery and rental apartment.
"The historic, industrial-use building provided a unique canvas and challenging opportunity for this carefully considered, owner-occupied, adaptive reuse project," said Dumican Mosey Architects in a project description.
The renovation process proved to be a challenge, with years of earthquakes and structural damage creating a shaky foundation. That didn’t slow down the architects, however, who blended elements and materials from the original 8,200-square-foot building with a fresh and modern approach. The crown jewel is the cherry red, 1965 Fiat hanging upside down from the ceiling of the street-facing studio, which has created an understandable mystique about the building from the San Francisco natives driving by.
The massive building is split into two floors: the downstairs studio space and the upstairs residential area. The downstairs features huge, floor-to-ceiling, garage-style glass doors, equipped with hydraulics to open out to the terrace. While the original garage was incredibly dark and gloomy, the SOMA Residence is designed to let the light in at every corner.
Floating stairs lead to the second story, which was converted into a three-bedroom, loft-style space. The red Fiat isn’t the only piece of modern art; In fact, the studio was specifically designed to feature bright white walls as a way to highlight fine art. The team also created a courtyard at the center of it all, lined with sliding glass doors and a lush wall of greenery and succulents. Overhead, similar to the glass doors downstairs, giant motorized skylights usher in daylight and fresh, California air.
On the outside, the walls have been painted black, juxtaposed by modern, frosted-glass windows. Throughout the entire building, there is a mix of old and new, including the original concrete walls and newly added elements such as reclaimed oak flooring, white drywall, and shear walls made of board-formed concrete.
In the world of trailblazing interior design, the SOMA Residence is a shining example of how the right creative designer can completely transform a space.