SFGate: San Francisco Living Home Tours

Posted in Design/Building Portfolio, Press on May 14, 2010 by smithbuilt

SFGate is running an article about the Ames Cottage on the AIA tour. Check it out here. 


Smithbuilt Project: Little Lane Studio

Posted in Artwork, Design/Building Portfolio, Portfolio on May 13, 2010 by smithbuilt

When my friend Julie asked if I would help her to design Little Lane Studio– a children’s art school, I jumped at the chance. It seemed like a great way to revisit my former teaching career while focusing on something really important-teaching kids art.

Designing a space that is compelling from a kid’s perspective was an intriguing challenge that I couldn’t wait to get started on. Julie and I discussed my collaborative style of working and set up some initial design sessions.

We keyed off of Julie’s inspiration board- a series of images that she had collected to help define the mood and tone of her artistic space.

Through our conversations we decided that building out the space with recycled materials was the appropriate look we were trying to achieve as well as conveying the right inspirational message to the kids.

After deciding that the space should house some large art tables we set out to Heritage Salvage. Our friend and owner of Heritage Michael “Bug” Deacon pointed us towards some re-sawn structural parralam beams that were perfect for our project.

We talked about needing two tables of differing heights and decided that to conserve space that they should be able to nestle.

I welded up some table bases from 2 x 2 x 1/4” galvanized angle iron with 4 x 4 x1/4” galvanized legs and found some heavy duty casters. I sized the smaller table to roll under the larger one for storage when not in use.

I joined the beams together to create a table surface and coated them in an epoxy resin.

We also used the beams as benches and found some beautifully patinaed siding boards that we re-sized and milled for the bench backs.

Lastly, we wanted to create “a nest” serving as a metaphor and a visual focal point -for home and creativity.

And as luck would have it, while on a trip to the San Francisco recycling center, I was able to talk a guy into helping me load a gigantic wisteria vine that he had just pulled out of his mother’s backyard into me truck. Score.

Tillandsia Garden At The Plant Cafe

Posted in Press, Vertical Garden on May 13, 2010 by smithbuilt

When the owners of The Plant Cafe Organic, Matthew and Mark first approached me about a vertical garden they were interested in something dynamic and unusual that fit with their dining concept of “the waiting room of a Finnish sauna set in a Tokyo airport”.

Something modern and organic-I suggested a large boarderless Tillandsia piece composed of nine 1/4” plates of cold rolled steel patinaed with a solution of copper suspended acid wash.

My assistant Jesse and I set to work constructing the large “backer panel” receiver on which the steel plates were to be secured. The backer was then preliminarily fitted with the steel panels to mark the positioning of each panel, and the backer was secured to the wall.

We then constructed transport frames to move the steel in order to receive the patina and later to serve as placement rigs while we worked on the plantings.

During assembly, each panel was numbered and secured to the backer in the corresponding location.

This is one of my favorite pieces as the patina, although tricky, is quite unusual and has continued to grow and change over time just like the plants.

Smithbuilt Project: Radius House on the cover of California Home and Design Magazine

Posted in Design/Building Portfolio, Press on November 17, 2009 by smithbuilt

Our Unique Upgrade Of This Mill Valley Home Is On The November/ December Edition.

Check Out The Article and Photos Here

Radiating history

Smithbuilt Project: Ames Cottage on AIA Architecture in the City Tour

Posted in Design/Building Portfolio on October 10, 2009 by smithbuilt

When I started the Ames remodel project I knew that it was a unique space with historical roots.Apparently, the American Institute of Architects felt the same way as our remodel was selected for the 2009 AIA homes tour this fall.Check out the cover of the home tour guide that’s us on the bottom.Our Ames Cottage on AIA Tout

Converted from a three car garage in the 1940’s this space on Ames Alley housed Betty May school for dance until the early 80’s when Betty May passed away.

Ames frontage after renovation.

The studio holds a special place in my heart because not a month goes by without someone stopping me to talk about the fact that they or someone they know danced or was somehow involved in the studio. It was real neighborhood fixture.

I lived in the studio while I renovated the front flats of my house on Guerrero.

Serving as a design motif I preserved the tap marked maple floors and built up and around this grounding element.

The bathroom where a skylight above doubles as a rooftop table.

The kitchen with custom cabinetry built by my friend Steve.

The fireplace is wrapped in 1/4″ x 1 1/2″ slats that were milled from the existing douglas fir roof joists before we raised the ceiling height and replaced the roof with engineered trusses.

This was my first vertical succulent garden.

Our small but oh so deep soaking tub was formed in placed by concrete works.

Check us out on the Inhabitat blog.

Artwork from Kevin Smith of Smithbuilt

Posted in Artwork on October 9, 2009 by smithbuilt

This is a series I did last year with found images. By an odd turn of events, I came to own an enormous collection of years of family photos from a family I have never met. The photos span decades, and are all taken around the Bay Area. Through the photos,  I can watch the family grow up, graduate, take vacations, change houses. Some of the characters have become favorites of mine. The woman in this picture  is a favorite.

They are sublimation dye prints mounted on wood and covered in resin. I have experimented with hanging them outside. I hope to introduce a series this year that can we used in a somewhat protected outdoor condition.

Rose 1957

Rose 1957





Hank 1962

Hank 1962

Back home

Back home



Texas Tea

Texas Tea




New Tillandsia Garden at Ritual

Posted in Vertical Garden on October 7, 2009 by smithbuilt

This is a new Tillandsia garden that is currently hanging in the Ritual Roasters on Valencia Street.