Two things that don’t usually go together: minimalist architecture and life with kids.

But the architectural team of Lise de Vito and Jim Zack managed to combine both in their own 2,988-square-foot home, a three-story pair of steel, stucco, and glass boxes squeezed between two existing homes and clinging to a San Francisco hillside.

The lot is a mere 25 feet wide, putting the house inches away from the neighbors, and yet it’s flooded with light, thanks to a rear elevation bump-out with floor-to-ceiling glass, offering 180-degree views of the city, hills, and Bay.

The home’s focal-point, a three-story stairwell and translucent staircase, does nothing to diminish that light with its open steel stringers, and acrylic treads and risers. “There is almost too much light sometimes,” says Zack of the design that his wife, de Vito, took the lead on.

A lot of that solar energy is captured on the flat roof, where photovoltaic panels provide most of the home’s electricity, as well as hot water. Other sustainable attributes include panelized construction (which reduced jobsite waste and construction time), fly-ash concrete, engineered lumber, blown-in cellulose insulation, FSC-certified wood, and low-VOC finishes.

The home’s three levels define three specific uses. The top floor is communal family space with a kitchen, living room, study, and guest bedroom. The middle houses the garage and master suite. And the bottom floor, which is basement on the street side and open in back, is the children’s floor with a family room and two bedrooms.

Category: Custom home, less than 3,500 square feet
Entrant/Developer/Architect: Zack/de Vito Architecture, San Francisco
Builder: Built Form Construction, San Francisco

Learn more about markets featured in this article: San Francisco, CA.