Façade Before:
52-54 Iris: The Original Facade
Façade After:
52-54 Iris: The New Facade
It’s a top-to-bottom contemporary deco remodel of a two-unit building in Laurel Heights (52-54 Iris). And yes, it’s sure to elicit strong reactions (one way or the other). A couple of features that stand out: glass entry doors, new aluminium windows from a similar company to Graceland Windows and Doors, for more modern looking windows and window frames, as well as being better energy efficient also, and garage doors so the building looked uniform and matched well on the exterior, we did consider contacting a garage door repair company as they existing ones were still in good stead however even if repaired they still wouldn’t fully match the desired look we were after so we decided new would be best; also textured walls; and a glass wrapped Ipae terrace above (with surprisingly good views).
And even if it’s not your style, but you’re considering a remodel of your own, do pay particular attention to the transformation of what were single bathrooms (on the main floors) into two.
Continue on for a few more before and after shots (as well as comments).

Kitchen Before:
52-54 Iris: The Original Kitchen
Kitchen After:
52-54: The New Kitchen
Living Room Before:
52-54 Iris: The Old Living Room
Living Room After:
52-54 Iris: The New Living Room
? Listing: 52 Iris (3/3.5) – $1,869,000 (TIC) [] [MLS]
? Listing: 54 Iris (2/2) – $1,379,000 (TIC) [] [MLS]

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Mole Man

    Awful! The warm exterior that evoked a tropical get away has been replaced by hideous corporate blue that should have been saved for the brochures. Any warmth which might have entered the kitchen or bath designs has been replaced by harsh black and white with occasional spasms of grey or sky blue. Sure, some people prefer cooler color schemes, but so totally dominating a sunny home?
    And what is going on with that lumpy and lopsided wall texture? That can’t have been original.
    What happened out back? In an area gifted with unique horticultural possibilities and many remarkable landscape artists we find instead some grass awkwardly punctuated by box hedges and trees planted such that they can never thrive. How very pre-Capability Brown. Vive Racine! Better yet, torch all that and sprinkle some native mix from Larner Seeds (PLUG ).
    And in case you are wondering what makes a place green, this showcases non-green architecture. Many of these materials and imported do-dads are way over the top expensive with a super high total carbon cost yet contribute little functional advantage. Those fabulous doors are likely to bust and have hinge issues. Nothing breaks relationships with modern design like fancy looking doors that have nonstandard parts that may fail and be hard to fix.
    What a collossal waste! Yuck!

  2. Posted by anon

    I like the “before” version better also. Now we get ANOTHER “Dwell-DWR-Wallpaper-Room&Board” aesthetic. Why must every interior look like every other interior? There is good Bay Area regional design and designers out there but they are not used here. I agree with Mole Man’s comments regarding the landscaping which is a real missed opportunity. Are these homes no more than products for profits? Are realtors calling the shots regarding what is “appropriate” colors, furniture, architecture and landscaping? There are two coffee table books out right now on San Francisco interiors, and both go to great lengths to focus on the “original individualistic” interiors of San Franciscans. Someone better warn those whose homes are featured in the books that realtors will scold them for their unique taste and force them to adhere to the “Room & Board” furnishing aesthetic.

  3. Posted by Jill Cohn

    Haven’t been inside yet but have been watching the outside and am totally enamored of the exterior…lots of good aesthetic and style, in my book. I really like the color; feel like the developer took a risk and it paid off. I’d much prefer to come home to this new look than the previous incarnation.

  4. Posted by S&S

    I like the after as well, but I’ve always loved the cold, never-been-lived-in modernism.

  5. Posted by delancey

    moleman —
    Add to the carbon cost the diesel for the flatbeds that trucked this house up from Los Angeles. The translucent garage doors lit from within (lights timed on 7PM-9:30PM) just scream West Hollywood.
    Props for the Larner Seeds reference–Gardening with a Wild Heart, woot!
    (and is anyone else astonished that after this much work they kept the parquet flooring?)

  6. Posted by David

    Is it just me, or does everyone agree that postings like this that are from “SocketSite sponsors” should be labeled as such?? This is the property that for weeks has been advertised at the link to the right that says “Views from Pacific Heights to the Pacific Ocean.” Talk about “product placement”!!
    [Editor’s Note: If it were actually the same property, we’d wholeheartedly agree (but then again we would have added a disclosure). But it’s not. The listing in The Marketplace is for 57-59 Iris (hey, you opened the door) which is a completely different style of renovation (of a nearly identical shell) and is in fact co-listed by a SocketSite sponsor (who placed the Marketplace ad). Regardless, thanks for noticing The Marketplace, keeping us honest, and of course plugging in.]

  7. Posted by anon2

    The interior is actually rather nice and I am interested in what type of tile is on the fireplace. Is that Heath Ceramic Tile?

  8. Posted by Deborah

    I’m not normally a fan of anything moderately contemporary but I’ve seen this place and I was very pleasantly surprised. I loved the backyard and the roof deck, of course. As for the interior, they used warm colors and materials so that it didn’t feel cold, like a lot of contemporary spaces can feel. It felt comfortable and I could see us having great dinner parties, quiet evenings, and sunny mornings there.

  9. Posted by wayne

    “commission, normally 6% of the sales price”….actually it is 5% and heading towards 4 which is still too much.
    No way are those Heath Ceramics.

  10. Posted by Usually Named

    I like it if only to stir up controversy. San Francisco architecture needs that.

  11. Posted by Observer

    The new windows look good, but those alone along with the interior remodel would have moved these, and saved some paint and strange spaceship metal along the way. Just a little too much creativity here.

  12. Posted by SFhighrise

    Why are there so many preservationists in this city? I wish there were more modernists here. It definitely makes this building stand out (in a good way). The old style looked tired, boring and the same as every other building in this city. The new design is bold and exciting. I wish we’d see more places like this in San Francisco.

  13. Posted by bgelldawg

    The kitchen is a huge improvement, but there was nothing wrong with the “before” exterior of the house. This place yells “new money” and the living room walls are downright comical. I can imagine every visitor laughing at those living room walls and asking what/how/why.
    Oddly, the photos in the MLS listings for the two separate units appear to be identical. Either they did the exact same thing to both kitchens, living rooms, and bathrooms, or they aren’t showing the photos of one of the units.
    I looked in vain for any evidence of one bathroom being turned into two or how they did that. Not sure if Socketsite was making a joke or if they really did double the number of bathrooms by splitting them. Could Socketsite link to the photos?
    I would like to see “before” photos of the roof, bathrooms, and bedrooms if those are available.

  14. Posted by anon

    Big yuck to the remodel.

  15. Posted by anonarch

    “Why are there so many preservationists in this city? I wish there were more modernists here”
    If we don’t like the design it does not mean we are “preservationists” or do not like modern. First, this is not “modern”, but as was commented on before, this is a “nouveau rich” contemporary with lots of bling bling racing stripe metal flashing and the all important illuminated palm tree (which is a Washingtonian and belongs in the Coachella Valley!).
    This home could have been made “up to date” without applying racing stripes. Is it me, or are a lot of the homes presented recently looking like they belong in Los Angeles instead of San Francisco?

  16. Posted by blahhh

    The exterior treatment reminds me 1Rincon’s rib skin for some reason. The casual use of those bulky dividers/overhangs tells me that the ‘architect’ may have been too absorbed by the intention of making the place *ViSiBlE*. That said, the exterior is not nearly as bad as some of you make it sound like and it can be easily improved. Dig out the palm tree. Change the paint color to a more mutual tone and add in some vertical elements. That should blend in those stripes and soften the mechanical flavor of the building.
    I think the interior is finished quite elegantly. The light approach to the kitchen and living room is very pleasing, and it should be continued to the styling of the exterior. I think this house left some room for the future owner to characterize, which is perfect for a particular type of buyers, and there are lots of them. The bones are in place. A lot more can be done to it, but you won’t get it for this price.

  17. Posted by tipster

    I just drove by. All I can say is that the photographer made the outside look better than it really does.
    The silver stripes look like they just patched together several screen doors and quickly stapled them to the outside of the house. They aren’t flashy, like in the photo- you barely notice them except for the fact that they look cheap and shoddy. The workmanship is a disaster.
    That coupled with a non-cohesive interior –the parquet flooring doesn’t work with the attempt at modernism– makes it look like this will end up in someone’s scrapbook labeled, “my first remodel”.
    Nice execution on the deck. Kitchen and baths look good, but it may be the photographer again.
    The rest of the house looks like a cheap embarrassment. The inexpensive-looking lamp over the dining table (rather than redoing the lighting) and non-cohesive living room makes it look like someone is trying too hard to be hip, on a post college student budget. The new windows look cheap from the outside in the daylight.
    The whole thing just looks like an inexpensive, poorly-executed attempt at modernism. I love modern places, but the execution on this place is horrendous. I think what we can learn from this is that if you want to implement a modern look, because of the simplicity of the design, everything has to be very professionally executed. Every flaw will be amplified. It’s worth a daytime drive by so you can see what I mean.
    Did they add $1M of value (purchased for 1.95 9 months ago) with whatever they spent? I don’t think they did. Maybe the market is starved for this sort of design in that neighborhood, or the inside will surprise me, so it will sell anyway, but wow does the outside look bad.

  18. Posted by Anonarch

    This project is an interesting case study in how careful one needs to be with the design books and magazines that some people pick up and try to imitate whle flipping property. Was this trying to have references to art deco? The subtle use of metal details in 1360 Montgomery Street (The Art Deco buiding that Lauren Bacall in the movie DARK PASSAGE lives in) might have been the starting point for the metal stripes at 52 Iris but they got it so very wrong.
    This project is an example of why it has become so frustrating to be an architect in this city. EVERYONE thinks they know how to design, who Eames was (after all, they bought the chair!), and why they want to tell me how they know more about “modernism” than I do. What these imitators don’t know is if you don’t get it “Right” in modern design, you get it very very wrong. The previous comments about windows is an excellent example of how details can ruin the best intentions when some want to “play” architect. What is the point of trying to explain the difference between Wurster, Stuart Williams and Eichler when they “bought the book” and “know all about it”. Still, not to be totally negative, at least they tried and had the courage to take a risk with this property, which is better than those who just “re-stage” and then reset the price.

  19. Posted by anon

    “Did they add $1M of value (purchased for 1.95 9 months ago) with whatever they spent? I don’t think they did.”
    Nine months ago seems like an eternity now. It will be interesting to see if they are able to get out of this with any profit at all.

  20. Posted by armchair

    As someone who has recently had their contemporary design outed on socketsite and been on the receiving end of a running commentary, I’ll will disclose that I have only seen the pics and so am responding only to them. The design feels overwrought due in large part to the exterior horizontal metal elements. I think the intent here was to make a strong modernist statement, which I applaud. Unfortunately they completely overpower the facade and look like an after thought. The Im sure the front door cost mucho bucks but it looks like a shower door. One of the two tiles used in the living room might work, but used together they fight each other for dominance and cause visual chaos. I feel keeping the parquet floor was inappropriate for the ultra modern design. Kudos for going out on that design limb, but I’m afraid I will be adding the house to my next book titled San Francisco Architorture.

  21. Posted by fluj

    I feel as if a better choice would have been to go this route:
    [Editor’s Note: That’s 104 Collins. And if you’re curious about the design, or would appreciate a better picture, it pays to be plugged-in.]

  22. Posted by Tipster

    Or even do what they did at 57-59 Iris across the street. It’s a tasteful remodel, maybe not as flashy, but very well executed. The link is up above, and it looks like almost the same layout.

  23. Posted by Michael

    Not a superficial remodel and quality of finish was much higher than most I’ve seen. Agree about the floors/walls but don’t look like they would be too expensive to change. Roof deck blew me away and it was smart to add the second baths. Haven’t made up my mind on the exterior but can’t believe anybody finds the ‘before’ anything but ugly.

  24. Posted by S&S

    “Modern,” “nouveau rich” contemporary, whatever you want to call it … it’s just semantics. “New money,” “old money” schmoney. Why is there always such hostility/animosity from the readers of this site towards the haves as opposed to the have-nots?
    I didn’t take the time to scrutinize the pictures or physically view the home with a magnifying glass, but on the surface, I happen like it, although I do agree about the floors.

  25. Posted by anon

    Huh? To criticize poor design means that you are a “have not”? Why the blanket statements?
    Could it be that this is a poor attempt at contemporary deco? I “have” more than I need, but I would not want to live across the street from a house with metal racing stripes.

  26. Posted by Michael

    It reminds of me LA/Palm Springs a bit and I love it.

  27. Posted by anonandon

    “It reminds of me LA/Palm Springs a bit and I love it.”
    There was a time when THAT statement would have caused the city to suspend your citizenship here.
    Now, more and more projects try to look like they are in L.A. with palms and mid-century San Fernando Valley details. Will San Francisco residents and transplants ever fall in love with what is unique about the Bay Area again? One of the world’s most beautiful urban enviroments is slowly loosing its unique character.

  28. Posted by ok

    If you want to feel like you live at the Matrix, this is the place for you.
    Priced aggresively for TIC’s…should be a good barameter for the (high end) TIC market.
    I don’t see the value here…

  29. Posted by S&S

    anon at October 1, 2007 6:57 AM: My comment was not directed at the critical comments on “poor design.” You can say this place looks like a pile of dog dooh, and I couldn’t care less. I can agree to disagree. I was responding to the post about “This place yells ‘new’ money.” Whether the money is new or old or whether it came from the tooth fairy has no relevance. My point is simply, if someone’s got the money, they can remodel/butcher their home any way they so choose, whether in good taste or poor.

  30. Posted by Michael

    “Now, more and more projects try to look like they are in L.A. with palms and mid-century San Fernando Valley details.”
    I don’t see a problem with this, why must everything look the same simply because of its location? It’s not like the “before” was anything outstanding. We shouldn’t limit ourselves because of where we live.

  31. Posted by g

    I agree with Michael. When I think of the “unique character” of San Francisco, architecture is way down on my list. It’s not as if the original facade of the building was unique or especially aesthetically pleasing any how.

  32. Posted by Spencer

    I love the redesign. The former design was the same typical boring SF architecture. THis city needs more redesign and more daring development. the articheture here for the most part is blah blah blah. I don’t agree that this looks like Plam Springs and I don’t want it to look like Southern Cal, but it would be nice if people could make redesign and developments aesthetically pleasing.

  33. Posted by anon

    I think 104 Collins has much more of a Modern yet Northern California feel to it. My question is why are more and more porjects like this one using plants that belong in Mexico, Palm Springs or San Diego? What about using native trees and grasses from the Bay Area? I have had told three clients about one landscape designer in Mill Valley who they have used on my projects who will only use native regional plants and my clients have been very pleased. Their landscapes use less water, attract native birds and butterflys, and smell great too. We need to get over our obsession with palm trees.

  34. Posted by Espumoso

    Imagine trying to sell THAT in five years! Good luck.
    It is like my parents keeping the “that seventies show” look hoping it would make a comeback. It didn’t and the valencia corridor hipsters shopping at thrift stores aren’t buying homes, they’re buying $2.00 T-shirts.

  35. Posted by Elizabeth

    Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean that other people won’t or shouldn’t…or that you’re opinion is “right,” for that matter. Design and architecture and subjective, aren’t they?

  36. Posted by Neil

    For a city that is so progressive in so many ways, San Franciscans are so provincial and close-minded in others…
    I think the place adds an element to Iris Street that enriches it as a whole. Neighborhoods are about the exression of architectural tastes and designs, which vary over time. That is what makes a neighborhood interesting. Laurel Heights is a carming collection of mid-century homes, but they all basically look the same, save for a few cosmetic details and choice of paint color. Think of a neighborhood as a party: they’re really no fun when everyone is from the same narrow age and demographic, esposing the same shades-of-grey thoughts and opinions. It’s just a boring, self-indulgent echo chamber. In the same way that one should embrace diversity in one’s neighbors– somthing San Francisco is famous for– one should appreciate the addition of something new and dramatically different to the neighborhhod.
    And in terms of execution and design, I think they nailed it. Yes, the parquet floors are not in keeping with the rest of the homes, but so what? Do you want your home to look like a catalogue?
    And why is everyone so paranoid about architectural influences creeping in from elsewhere? Let’s face it, among all the flotsam and jetsam in Los Angeles, one can also find some of the most interesting and exciting architecture anywhere in the world. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. But any noted architect or urban planner will champion diversity in architectural styles within a neighborhood. Without the occasional oddball, your neighborhood will look more like a tract in Orange County.
    And your parties won’t be much fun, either.

  37. Posted by Mavin333

    Contemporary, Want to be Contemporary, Modern, Want to be Modern, all the above or not. What they did, somebody liked. Rumor has it both units are in contract, and like it or not, job well done.

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