Chris Brigham of Knife & Saw reached out to share his beautiful new San Francisco home bathroom renovation he collaborated on with Designer/Builder Fidel Archuleta. The whole project started out with just a leaky tub and some water damage (don’t they all?!) and then turned into a full-scale reno right down to the studs.
Chris met Fidel while doing some work for the owner of the shop he works out of. After they got to know each other, Chris asked Fidel to help him with his small bathroom issue, but little did they both know what lay ahead. “We were both were interested in working on a larger design/build project so we saw it as an opportunity to upgrade something we didn’t love and decided to take it on as a full collaborative remodel,” Chris told me.
The old bathroom (see before images below) wasn’t awful, but wasn’t exactly up to par with Chris and his wife’s design aesthetic. They ripped out the entire bathroom and salvaged as much as they could, bringing the tub to another project to be reused.
“Chris and I wanted to create a space that felt local to San Francisco and the bay area so we sought after local materials, and more importantly local craftsman, us of course,” Fidel explained. They researched materials and chose pickled redwood for the north wall, shower, medicine cabinet and planters and then concrete for the sink and other small details. The tile is also local—from Heath Ceramics.
Chris’ background is in furniture and graphic design, so this project was a little more of a challenge. “I usually pay attention to very small details, down to 64ths of an inch at times. This doesn’t always mesh well with a construction project. It’s not always practical both timing and budget-wise to be able to analyze every small detail and decision when you are working on something like this. With Fidel’s background being more based in the build side of things, we had to find a happy medium where we weren’t overthinking everything and delaying building, but also paying close enough attention to detail to make sure everything looked the way we designed it to.” Designed on a grid to make it easier and to line up all the major areas made the design a lot easier for the both of them. In the end, Chris not only got an awesome bathroom out of it but a lot more satisfaction in doing it himself: “Going from ideas and drawings between the two of us, to actually building it out how we imagined it pretty much all by ourselves is pretty satisfying. I’m always trying to learn how to do new and different things, so it was a great learning experience as well, with Fidel teaching me a lot about the construction side of things that I previously didn’t know.”
I asked both of them what they might recommend to others doing similar projects:
Fidel: “Patience is very important. In times like today where technology gives us instant access to data and in some cases quick results to fabricating our designs we forget how to be patient. For designers and makers I would say slow it down and embrace the process because in the end it’s reflected in our work.”
Chris: “When you get outside of you’re own little world where you make all the decisions, it can be really challenging at times. To work with someone else and take advantage of things that they can bring to the table, you can do things that you would most likely never be able to do on your own and the end result will be something unique.”