CFAH

3537 21st Street: Bath and Kitchen

From the architect’s website with respect to their “21 House” (a.k.a. 3537 21st Street):

This remodel of a kitchen and bathroom in a San Francisco Victorian explores the effects of transparency in both the literal/material sense and the phenomenal sense. Exterior and interior glass walls allow light to create a continuous, multiple readings of space – at different points in time and with various interpretations.

3537 21st Street: Kitchen

The glass box is the perfect layer of protection between the communal nature of the kitchen and the private nature of the bathroom. This translucent wall speaks of sensuality and voyeurism. During the day, light is allowed into the bathroom from the south-facing kitchen, creating a bright, warm interior that accentuates the experience of bathing. In contract, the translucent volume glows green at night through the use of jelled fluorescents, becoming a beacon for the gleaming kitchen.

The glass, steel, and shower transparency show continues upstairs with the second bath.

3537 21st Street: Second Bath

And the light-filled “Dolores Heights Victorian renovated in modernist style by renowned local architect” is now on the market and seeking $1,999,0000.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by SFRE

    I don’t like this at all. I like it even less at $2MM.
    The outside of the house in uninviting and the interior isn’t anything special.

  2. Posted by anonn

    That blurb reads really odd. Someone needs an editor pretty badly: strange word choices, lack of agreement, incorrect word choice, and an overall feeling of marketing speak posing as architectural writing.

  3. Posted by 94114

    I looked at this over 20 years ago when the attic had just been completed effectively doubling the square footage. I remember at the time that no permits had been taken out to complete the work. I imagine it’s all been rectified by now.

  4. Posted by Joshua

    are they kidding with that soundtrack?
    this architect seems allergic to comfortable chairs.
    give me an architect and/or designer who can create something both beautiful and functional — these people exist…

  5. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    It looks like the transparency effect has extended to the street : the power lines were recently undergrounded.
    I like the idea of allowing light to be shared between rooms, especially when houses abut as they do on this block. When your only natural light comes in from two of four walls this helps get the most out of that light. There’s a not so exotic solution as well that I don’t see used very much : transoms and clerestories between rooms.
    Now only if the listing agent could include a photo of “the translucent volume glows green at night through the use of jelled fluorescents”.

  6. Posted by Mystery Realtor

    Joshua;
    Frank Llyod Wright designed furniture to go with his houses that was so uncomfortable that the only remaining pieces are at The Met in NY.

  7. Posted by Joshua

    ^ are you actually comparing this to FLW?

  8. Posted by kathleen

    Jonathan Robinson is in town. He is an artist, mill owner, (see link above) and american ex-pat who has been described in the Boston Globe as an aesthetic refugee. He lives in France and rails against modern architects as destroyers of beauty.
    I have put a link to his mill above. He has a very specific design point of view which I believe in and most developers/contemporary architects do not. And his art is nice. I sent him this description, I hope he sends me a response to share with socketsite.

  9. Posted by Charlotte

    Written like a true Art History major.

  10. Posted by noearch

    I actually like this remodel quite a bit. It’s a very good example of inserting some elegant, clean, modern touches into a classic Victorian, while retaining much of the original character of the house.
    I like the fact that the enclosed main level rooms were not destroyed and opened up into one big loft space. You see that so often, and so poorly done. If you want a loft, you don’t need to destroy a good classic floor plan to get it. Go buy a loft.
    Retaining the original woodwork, coved ceilings and wainscoting is respectful and classic. While the kitchen is sleek and modern, I’m not thrilled with the layout. It could use more upper cabinets and the area next to the oven is awkward at best. The baths are beautiful examples of elegant machines for bathing.
    I think the comments about furniture are simply irrelevant. The house is either staged or it’s the furniture of the owner. You’re not buying the furniture, you’re buying a house.
    This remodel is a great example of using careful restraint and clarity to update a house already full of character and style. Ann Fougeron performed this task very well. I wish more Victorian remodels to take this approach.

  11. Posted by tipster

    Good grief, this comes off like a first year architect student’s project. Bizarre design choices meet cheap flimsy old home.
    Fail.

  12. Posted by Wilma

    Notes on the seating: Those bertoia bar stools (seen in the kitchen) are fairly comfortable. I remember the museum at my daughter’s university had them and she would spend hours sitting in them working on papers.
    Despite all the staged furniture, this house could easily serve as a blank canvas for anyone’s interpretation of modern comfort and home. There are unique features (the bathrooms and kitchen island, of course) – but the openness of the bedrooms, dining and living room really are open spaces waiting to be filled!
    I really love this remodel. Victorians just don’t get enough light. Noe Valley is one of the sunniest parts of San Francisco and it is lovely to see someone take advantage of that aspect.

  13. Posted by Jonathan

    I visited this home when it was on the market about five years ago. It may have been more – I cannot quite recall.
    While modernism is not everyone’s cup of tea – it was clear that everyone visitor to this open house was impressed by the level of detail (look at those terrazzo floors!) and the amount of light which seemed to flood in at every angle.

  14. Posted by steve

    more on chairs: the PK 22’s in the living room are quite comfortable as well (assuming they aren’t the knock-offs). the barcelona chair behind them, not so much but not horible either.

  15. Posted by noearch

    wow, tipster: you sure are in a bad mood today!
    So, I’m curious. Tell us more as to why you think the design choices are “bizarre” and why this is just a “cheap, flimsy old home”..
    If people are going to offer criticism here, why not offer some substance and serious commentary, instead of just:
    “fail”…
    Both Wilma and Jonathan got it right and added some great thoughts to back up mine. The house is a great blank canvas for someone to create their own unique living style. This remodel is a:
    success!

  16. Posted by SFRE

    I agree with Tipster, it does look like a cheap flimsy home. Almost like seeing a Honda Civic all dressed up with a fancy exhaust and colorful paint job.
    The outside is not very appealing. The kitchen cabinets in the corner look odd. The dining room is too narrow.

  17. Posted by geoff

    can the people who make those websites PLEASE PLEASE stop having the web site play the music automatically? it’s so damn rude to do that.

  18. Posted by noearch

    You both need to get out more and look around at art, architecture and the other well done remodels.
    I think the very success of this remodel is how minimally the new changes have been made to the original. Simple, understated remodels like this are rare and a welcome change to the usual, over designed, loft style mentality we see in so much
    real estate out there today.

  19. Posted by abc

    What exactly is the “phenomenal sense”? Is that like the sixth sense?

  20. Posted by sfrenegade

    I’m also somewhat with tipster on looking like a cheap flimsy home. I don’t know if it’s the color scheme or the way it’s lit or something else, but the living room looks like a crappy apartment I lived in during college. That said, I’m open to the fact that it may not look like that in person — maybe they just need a better photographer. But I agree with SFRE that the outside looks unimpressive.
    What’s with the wet bathrooms, btw? I always think of being in 3rd world countries when I see that. The bathrooms look cheap, like a crappy gym’s bathrooms or something only designed for fewer people.

  21. Posted by stylewylde

    LOL- agreed 94114 the soundtrack is super weird and disorienting with the images. The descriptions are so hilarious, I find it hard to focus on the actual house which may or may not be the intended result. Regardless, it was an interesting idea, the looks like it was executed poorly.

  22. Posted by noearch

    You’re focusing too much on the color scheme. It’s minimal, non offensive, and to be honest, pretty easy to change to suit the new owner’s taste.
    Again, paying any attention to the furniture is irrelevant. You’re buying a house! Look at the functional layout, the flow of rooms, the quality of light, the overall feel. That’s what you’re buying.
    I love the fact that the front facade has only the touch of the blue door to offset the overall white scheme. Very elegant and minimal. Again, the exterior could be repainted by the new owner in a more traditional Victorian palette if so desired.

  23. Posted by rumble

    Furniture/smurniture… Its about the house, and I for one would love to live here, original charachter and modern done in harmony. I just wish the bathrooms felt warmer, all that metal seems too much.

  24. Posted by rubber_chicken

    This is a gorgeous home – I’ve actually been in it. The modern interventions and the Victoriana play off each other to great effect. The translucent glass is great(it’s laminated so there are no acoustic issues).

  25. Posted by noearch

    @rumble:
    Exactly!
    Maybe the baths could be a “bit” warmer; I still like the minimal, clean “machine for bathing” approach.

  26. Posted by eddy

    Not a huge fan of the flooring choices / color. I think the exterior needs some help. I’m a bit torn on what to think of this home as it seems they went partially modern. To be honest, I’d rather they just went all the way and destroyed the original elements and got the desired effect. Or preserved the original floor plan and Victorian charm.

  27. Posted by justme

    I can think of few types of light less appetizing in the kitchen or less flattering in the bathroom than “green jelled fluorescents.” That’s just doubly awful. Does anybody in their right mind think of that and say, “Oh, lovely. Wouldn’t that be homey?” Talk about being near the top of my list of Things I Will Never Have In My Home, right next to rabid wolverines and asbestos scratching posts.
    That said, I sort of like the bathrooms, even with the vaguely creepy shower-outline-showing-into-the-kitchen/hallway thing, but the kitchen is just unfortunate.

  28. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    justme – I kinda figured that the green lighting was for drama/mood and you could switch it off while dining. It would be pretty cool if the glow enters into the bathroom too.
    Speaking of a green glow, the first thing that popped into my mind when I saw the lead photo here with the bathroom on the right was “Scrub yourself down and decontaminate over there first and then sit down at this stainless table for debriefing on the plutonium leak, Ms. Silkwood ”

  29. Posted by Clare

    Chairs, soundtracks, typos (thanks to an unknown typist who garbled the text)? Please refocus on the architecture–and go to fougeron.com for the real story. This house is terrific at this price. It incorporates the Victorian and modern in a bold way that’s perfectly comfortable and beautiful. Nothing lost in either style. Walk in: the light is amazing from all windows, walls, glass surfaces, lighting sources, unlike many SF houses. Maybe you haven’t been in a room with a wall that glows from recessed, jelled fluorescents (as in this kitchen), but the effect is subtle and warm. The finishes are gorgeous, from steel to wood to cork to terrazzo. Don’t guess about this house from reading these off-the-cuff comments. Go there, as I have, and see award-winning architecture that is also a gorgeous home.
    [Editor’s Note: With respect to typos, we caught two: an “and” that should have been an “of” (“effects of transparency”) and “accentuate” which should have been “accentuates” (“that accentuates the”). Both have since been corrected. Cheers.]

  30. Posted by noearch

    What is this obsession with “homey”? Do people today, in San Francisco, really want that?
    Homey to me is a pretty old fashioned description of how our grandparents used to live. Perhaps nothing wrong with it, for them..But the image is that of rugs on top of rugs, lots of odd sized plants, dim lighting, lots of family pictures or Thomas Kincaid “painter of light” really bad artwork, crocheted pillows and comforters thrown over patterned sofas, rocking chairs…well, you get the image.
    What do people really mean to say when they say “homey” here?

  31. Posted by noearch

    That’s what I said very early on, Clare.
    But thanks for adding some great comments to reinforce what I feel also. It is a gorgeous house.
    Ann Fougeron designs incredibly beautiful and functional architecture.

  32. Posted by John

    Nice.
    Don’t expect many sophisticated reviews of architecture and design on socketsite; it’s a real estate investment site.

  33. Posted by John

    Note: speaking of the audience in general.

  34. Posted by John

    I have to agree with the comments regarding playing music on websites. Should be off (or really low volume) be default. Otherwise, it always leaves a bad impression with me.
    For some reason, real estate websites are among the worst offenders.

  35. Posted by noearch

    sorry, you’re wrong John: SS may have started as purely a real estate investment site, as you say, but it has evolved into a lot of commentary about the value of architecture, good design, bad design, personal design, etc..
    And, in a way, the comments about architecture and design, do, in fact relate to real estate. We often talk about how good design, well thought out design can reflect directly on a higher price for a property. Likewise, poor design, cheap materials, bad floor plans can often drive a price down.
    And I happen to think, at times, there are some sophisticated reviews on this very blog about those issues.

  36. Posted by eddy

    @noearch, I’m hoping that SS evolves further into that realm and starts to explore these dimensions further of SF real estate. Too many interesting properties here in SF and SS tends to only highlight certain of these properties that match the editors criteria. One criteria being that a home is on the market. Anyway, I appreciate the forum nonetheless.

  37. Posted by noearch

    @eddy: Yes, I agree. The forum is evolving, perhaps slowly, but we are seeing more intelligent and serious comments about design.
    I get tired of the comments about web site design, music on the website, misspelled words, stuff like that.

  38. Posted by Peter

    I think this is a terrific case study on how to elegantly deal with a traditional San Franciscan Victorian in a modern fashion, relevant to how we live today.
    The thing I appreciate most about Victorian buildings, especially on the exterior facade, is the sense of depth created by cornices, trim and other moldings. Painting the front white, as opposed to 12 different colors, allows the sun to render this sense of depth, articulated in shade and shadow.
    On the interior, restoring and maintaining the worthy aspects of the original home such as the living area, fireplace and floors respect the historic context. On the other hand, the modern kitchen and bathrooms, with updated appliances, fixtures, lighting, and plumbing (especially from Bulthaup), are a welcome upgrade. Also, the inside / outside paring of the kitchen and deck can’t be beat on a beautiful, sunny day.
    If I had the money, I’d buy this place in a heartbeat. For all the negative comments out there: everyone is entitled to their own opinions and tastes and serious critique should always be welcomed, but many of you come off as just plain jealous.

  39. Posted by EBGuy

    Where’s asiagoSF? I wonder why the skimped on such a key feature (a little bathroom humor for your afternoon)…

  40. Posted by 94115-guy

    @Tipster
    The Architect is highly skilled………
    I am an architect and interior space designer with a MFA.
    Several years ago I was looking for an architect in San Francisco I sought out recommendations from peers in the Bay Area.
    I have to tell you that Anne is consider one of San Francisco’s accomplished architects. Her name was recommended many times over as someone with exceptional skills and a sense for edgy and fresh modern design. I enjoyed reviewing her portfolio. She has a good sense of balance and the use of negative and positive space.
    Anyone who is fortunate to be able to engage her and work with her is very lucky.

  41. “Painting the front white, as opposed to 12 different colors, allows the sun to render this sense of depth, articulated in shade and shadow.”
    It also makes for a much quicker paint job, lowering the cost. With a single color all that needs to be done is mask the edges and windows and bring out the sprayer. (I do like those multi-color paint jobs though)
    On a different topic, I kept wondering what was meant by “jelled fluorescent tubes” and kept imagining that they had somehow submerged the tubes into a jelly like substance. But I think they really meant “gelled” as in a theatrical gel. That’s a fancy way of saying “colored transparent plastic film”.
    Architects and designers take note : there’s newer LED based lighting that performs much better for color accents than fluorescent tubes. These LED lights can be custom configured to a much wider range of colors compared to fluorescents. Some even are dynamically configurable so you can change the color with a button push.

  42. Posted by joh

    As was mentioned already, the bathroom configuration is very third world, only a contemporary version of it. It kind of reminds me of restaurants that offer a classic peasant dish presented nicely with some truffle shavings or foie gras, and charges an arm and a leg for it.
    Imagine taking a shower, getting dressed, putting your socks on, and having to use the toilet before leaving the house. The floor would be wet, and the toilet would probably be wet as well.
    By the way, I’m referring to the bathroom in photo 15/51 of the slide show. The bathroom in photo 23/51 is fine, since the shower is isolated enough.
    As for the green gels, that just sounds tacky.

  43. Posted by Archtype1

    Very sterile space. Nothing wrong with “homey” IMHO. Quite marvelous to observe how the architects and design professionals on this site jump to the defense of their own. I saw this house on the AIA tour a few years back. It was looking shabby even then. Homey it is not.

  44. Posted by Clare

    Again, do not “imagine” as some readers recommend or recall from years ago. Go see today. This design is both pure San Francisco and modern Europe (not “third world”), in line with Fougeron’s international reputation and portfolio. And yes, the bathroom in the 15/51 photo works perfectly; the lighting and finishes are anything but tacky. This is a livable, beautiful house.

  45. Posted by anonn

    Noearch,
    “misspelled words”
    did you really just write that?
    LOL.

  46. Posted by Joshua

    Indeed marvelous response from the architect/design community trying to defend their own. Guess what folks, this place falls short on many, many dimensions.
    Remove all the furniture, you basically get a small, white-painted, cove-ceilinged SF house. The kitchen is slightly interesting, and the wet baths are atrocious.
    Socket Site is a lot of things to a lot of people. But it’s basically a site about the SF real estate market. And speaking of real estate marketing, on top of some of the property’s cheesiness, we’re all treated to the “staging”, the awkward and annoying website music, slideshow image 32/51 which is so pathetic I can’t even find words, and then 18 more photos providing a tour of the extended neighborhood (we do view photos of restaurants 4 blocks away, but aren’t shown photos of the Muni line 40 feet away…that’s odd, are the agents trying to divert our attention?).

  47. Posted by Rocco

    I don’t really expect SS readers to respond to this house. It’s probably too intellectual, too concerned about the nature of building and the contrast between new and old for them to take it seriously. Having been inside, I can say it’s absolutely lovely and impeccably detailed, especially the in the manipulation of light and translucency.
    And don’t forget, it was renovated over the years by a single, working mother who’s also an internationally-respected architect. It was not done by a developer with bells, whistles and staging ie. yesterday’s re-hab on Downey.
    So if it doesn’t live up to SS readers’ suburban tastes, that’s OK. Because they won’t be buying it.

  48. Posted by noearch

    Good thread of opinions today, all over the map.
    @joshua: No, we’re not trying to “defend our own”. s
    Some of us, who are seasoned architects and design professionals are simply trying to raise the bar here with regard to discussing the design merits, pro and con about different properties. You don’t have to agree with us.
    But when comments are relegated to just a few words, such as “fail” or “flimsy” it doesn’t lead to very interesting discussions or threads. It’s not just about real estate but about the relationship between good design and quality real estate. There are plenty of people in SF who can talk about good design in an intelligent way.
    @rocco: your comment implies that you did not read ANY of the previous comments in this thread. Quite a bit of good, intellectual discussion, I would say.
    This is a beautiful, small house with the remodeling done in a very restrained, sensitive way to instill new modernist spaces and details while at the same time respecting the original architectural character.
    @anonn: so, fluj, are you stalking me again?

  49. Posted by www

    What’s all the griping about the wet rooms? It’s easy enough to convert a wet room into a regular shower, but not the other way around. For < $1000 you can install a glass door and no more wet room.
    We wanted the minimal look for our master bath; it’s not a full wet room but a zero-threshold shower. We had intended to have some glass, but the water doesn’t splash out of the shower zone much, so we just left it open! No curbs, no hard water spots and no moldy caulking to obsess about. The open bathroom looks much larger given the small space we had to work with in our 1960’s era house. Actually I got the inspiration from Socketsite when the Sunset Idea House on Alabama was featured here a few years ago:
    https://socketsite.com/archives/2007/12/san_francisco_idea_house_update_open_into_january_and_a.html

  50. Posted by salarywoman

    Well, this is a first: “the architect/design community trying to defend their own.”
    This just doesn’t happen. The architect/design community is highly competitive, highly critical and, truth be told, highly snarky. This, on the other hand, is a coordinated defense, a clique.
    There are some good aspects to this house and this remodel and there are some things that are flawed. But regardless of its purely architectural merits, if it strikes some people as cold or uncomfortable that doesn’t mean they are unsophisticated clods or that they are jealous. It just means they have different tastes and priorities. Demeaning their judgement is no way to win them over and it is certainly no way to educate them on the delights of well executed modernism, a subject dear to my heart.

  51. Posted by PUAgent

    I saw this house today and I think Tipster has it right. The changes made were completely disrespectful to the home. The kitchen and baths look like they were dropped in by a UFO. I’m sorry Noearch, there is nothing restrained or sensitive about it. It’s actually quite jarring in person.
    I personally love the modern aesthetic of the Terrazzo floors and sunlit shower upstairs, but it doesn’t work in this house. It would be awesome in a 50’s, 60’s or even 70’s era home. Or maybe it would be better if the sellers transformed the whole interior. As it stands, the changes will not age well and the home will appear horribly dated in the next few years. The new buyers should understand that these design choices will result in lost value over time.

  52. Posted by noearch

    Well, this may be another first here. A real estate agent, assuming PUAgent is one, telling a potential new buyer that the remodeled kitchen and baths in this house will actually cause a loss in value.
    Amazing, truly amazing. I was not aware that real estate agents could actually predict the future. But this one apparently can.
    Did you ever consider that this particular house will, in fact, appeal to some buyers and not to others?
    Saying this house, due to some design choices, WILL lose value over time is highly arrogant, and mis-guided, at best.

  53. Posted by Joshua

    Thinking about salarywoman’s comments, I wonder, why the coordinated defense? A theory:
    This thread threatens the dreams of some architects. Architecture is a difficult profession. Lots of training, long hours, relatively low pay, poor job security (especially these days). So now here’s a respected architect who has redone her home, and is listing it for $2MM. Pretty nice achievement, certainly something for other design professionals to emulate.
    Unfortunately, her aesthetic isn’t for everyone, and perhaps some of her decisions won’t produce the best ROI. Other architects may view criticism of the property as criticizing an aspiration (do-up your place, make some cash). Thus a coordinated defense of perhaps of “the dream”, more than 3537 21st Street.
    Anyway, that’s a theory. And now for a story. Years ago I was invited to I.M. Pei’s home in NYC for drinks. I felt excited to see how such a masterful architect designed his own home. You guessed it; terribly! Plain white rectangular rooms, stereotypical 70’s kitchen, etc. The only design elements were some Doric columns, and a smallish woven leather floor inlay. Otherwise, my Aunt Dowdy could have designed the place. The point? Sometimes the cobbler’s children have no shoes.

  54. Posted by Archtype1

    Just because something photo’d well for Met Home a few years ago does not make for a marketable liveable house. Kudos to this “working mother architect” for putting her own dollars on the line in her own home, and for not resricting herself to promoting her career using other people’s money and properties. We (and she)will see how the marketplace judges her work.

  55. Posted by Michael

    “We often talk about how good design, well thought out design can reflect directly on a higher price for a property. Likewise, poor design, cheap materials, bad floor plans can often drive a price down.” – noearch at April 20, 2010 1:10 PM
    “Saying this house, due to some design choices, WILL lose value over time is highly arrogant, and mis-guided, at best.” – noearch at April 20, 2010 7:03 PM
    I think you had it right the first time noearch. Is it a coordinated defense by the architects or the listing agent?

  56. Posted by noearch

    All I can say is pure bs to Joshua. This thread is not threatening the dreams of any architect, certainly not this one. How you deduce that is beyond me.
    I know many experienced architects who make a very very good living. I’m talking $200k + a year..for one person. I don’t think the architect of this property gave a rat’s ass about ROI, when it came to designing the interior. She did it because it reflects her particular living style and architectural philosophy. That’s called integrity, and conviction.
    It will appeal to some, and not to others. Big deal. I wish her well in selling it for the maximum amount the market will bring.

  57. Posted by justme

    What do people really mean to say when they say “homey” here?

    I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but what I meant by it above was “conducive to making somewhere a place I enjoy spending time.” Fall-foliage-colored-acrylic knit afghans need not apply. They can stay with the scratching posts and green light, far away. I just seriously find it hard to imagine a situation where green fluorescent lighting would accentuate any drama/mood I might care to be in. “Homey,” to me, can encompass any number of styles. All it needs is to be enjoyable. It could be a log cabin or a minimalist loft, as long as it makes me feel like I want to stick around.

  58. Posted by noearch

    @michael: I’m not following your logic. Yes, I made both of those statements..and?
    I’ll say it again: good design can reflect on a higher price.
    poor design can reflect a lower price. Yes, one can debate what is good design and poor design.
    But for an agent to assert that “…design choices will result in lost value over time…” is very different from saying that design choices will result in a lower ASKING price. Very different.

  59. Posted by Someone

    @noearch,
    Did you see the house in person or are you commenting based on pics?
    I remember reading this article http://articles.sfgate.com/2003-08-10/living/17502686_1_victorian-kitchen-room many years back and the attached pics left a very big impression myself and wife.
    Then 3-4 years later this house was listed for 2.5M (??) and I walked in and was very disappointed. It looks better on paper, it didn’t age very well and while I love nicely done modern architecture it already felt dated compared to some of the stuff I’ve seen in 07/08.
    Go check it out this wknd and report back pls.

  60. Posted by biggerego

    Some architects get it right and some get it wrong. This is such a mess. No harmony with exterior. Its like trying turn a Model T into a hybrid. This architect should be punched in the face.

  61. Posted by noearch

    Have seen it in person and the additional photos here. You can read all my comments above. Draw your own conclusions.

  62. Posted by PUAgent

    Yes Noearch, I am a Realtor and as such I council my clients regarding home values. I tell them that one of the benefits of owning your own home is that if you want; you can hire a hack architect, land a UFO’s kitchen in the middle of your Victorian and paint the exterior pink with chartreuse polka dots. But, I also tell them to be aware that their decisions can impact the value of their home and that some design choices age better than others.

  63. Posted by resp

    a few questions for our readers:
    1) why can’t i find this address on propertyshark? if you can, how long have the owners owned it?
    2) was this remodel really done 8 years ago? don’t see any recent permits.
    3) i see lots of evidence that that this house is dressed up – eye popping kitchens and baths, too much staging, all interior doors removed from the first floor, etc. at the same time it appears (although i haven’t been there yet) that the electrical and heat have not been upgraded. anyone know?

  64. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “Amazing, truly amazing. I was not aware that real estate agents could actually predict the future [effect of a remodel on the sales price]. But this one apparently can.”
    There’s a lot of real estate agent bashing here and some of it deserved but this statement is preposterous.
    Few professions put workers in the position of evaluating what the market will pay for a property. Those in a position to talk to a lot of buyers, see a lot of properties, and watch transactions in great detail will accumulate the experience to predict future sales prices well. Real estate agents live in that transaction stream and know the mood if the buying public better than anyone. Others who have the knack are appraisers and developers. Architects may or may not have the experience required to anticipate sales prices but that’s OK as it isn’t really their core competency.

  65. Posted by missionlover

    Actually I got the inspiration from Socketsite when the Sunset Idea House on Alabama was featured here a few years ago:
    https://socketsite.com/archives/2007/12/san_francisco_idea_house_update_open_into_january_and_a.html
    Wow, anyone see the comment by fluj on that post? Makes him look like a fair-weather Mission fan.

  66. Posted by tipster

    Oh, goodness, I stopped tracking the thread after I made that terse posting.
    I always try to imagine the home with the furniture stripped out so I can see what I’m going to be left with when all of the pretty staging is gone. It was easy to do with this place, because the furniture doesn’t go with the house!
    NA, I’m not the architect: I hire decorators and architects for that. These are my own comments, which I am only providing because you asked for more detail. The rest of you architects, stop right here: I’m not passing myself off as any sort of expert, just telling you how I feel about the look because I was asked. Don’t ask me “who the hell are you?” I’ll tell you right now: a nobody. A very rich nobody who hires designers and architects, but a nobody. I’m only stating it to respond to someone who I respect: noearch. So here goes:
    Photo 2: Old grandmother’s architecture with a frilly cutout for the bay window meets really cool furniture and art. When that’s gone, you’re a grandmother again. If you put your own cool furniture back in, it has the “I’m living in my grandmother’s house but I can’t change it, so I just added this cool furniture into it to try to make it passable” kind of look. Doesn’t work for me. Not a blank canvas, it’s already been signed by your grandmother.
    Photo 3: The door is a door from a cheap home. I’m all for preserving nice old features, but that one doesn’t work. The “Burglars: Push a blanket through that window on the door and then let yourself in” style hasn’t been used for years. You just don’t see that on a $2M home. Maybe a $100K home in Des Moines.
    Photo 4. Same frilly cutout. Grandmother. Two tone paint looks like someone didn’t want to paint the ceiling and left the faded white smoke-stained paint from the 40s there.
    Photo 5: teeny tiny artwork with frilly window treatments meets ultra expensive chair. Fail.
    Photo 6: same two tone ceiling. Same frilly cutout between rooms.
    Photo 8: wainscoting looks shabby and inexpensive. Fireplace is old and cheap. Doesn’t match the expensive furniture. “Nice house your grandmother has: how long do you get to live here?”
    Photo 9: “We ran out of money for kitchen cabinets so we put these four posters up instead. They don’t really fit, but what the heck. We also decided not to run the bar to the ground. Kitchen storage is just so non-architectural.” So the bar looks like my 6th grade school desk. Great.
    Photo 11: Funny thing about the light box is that if it lets light in one way, it will let light from the bathroom out the other. It will also let noise out. So when my smoking hot girlfriend takes a shower, we’ll see a sort of filtered version of her shadow from the kitchen. And we’ll hear everything. Just what I need.
    Photo 13: almost works. Grandmothers house meets grandma’s bed. Bright red artwork in a bedroom not exactly my taste, but it’s OK.
    Photo 14: What is that? The horse stable?
    Photos 15-18 work
    19. Cheap 70s looking track lighting. On a $2M house? Really? At least the green bookcases ALSO look like they are from the 70s. “This is the room that my dad moved out of and my grandmother couldn’t bear to update it. When she passes away, we’ll repaint.”
    21. Creative, interesting, absolutely works. The only hint you have a good architect is this photo.
    Photo 22: What the hell is that? Chain link fence posts? “Well, grandma let us redo the wood on the deck because it was falling apart, but we had to leave the rest of it in place.” Ridiculous. Cheap. Stupid. Fail.
    28. Rock lawn. Well, when grandpa died, grandma just couldn’t keep up the yard so we put this rocks down. What’s that tiny bench doing there all by itself. Nice touch: I can just imagine myself hanging out among the gravel on it — NOT.
    Hope that helps, NA. Appreciate your contributions to the site.

  67. Posted by SFRE

    I agree with Tipster. It just looks disjointed and bad. If you have an old Victorian, just tear it down and build something new if you want the ultra-modern look. Otherwise, just restore it to the previous condition. This doesn’t work at all.
    Maybe only an architect would buy this house. Definitely not appealing for the majority of people would buy.

  68. Posted by anonn

    One man’s fairweather fan is another man’s realist.

  69. Posted by Archtype1

    So how may square feet is this? 1200? 1500? After all the permitted remodeling by a meticulous and renowned architect it is hard to believe no concise measurements were ever made.

  70. Posted by noearch

    Thanks tipster: it did help. Showed us you are a clever, snarky writer. Love your style.
    And showed us someone who knows absolutely, unequivocally, completely,most sincerely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, nothing about design.
    But, thanks for your thoughts.

  71. Posted by tipster

    Sorry I wasted that much of your and my time, NA. I won’t make that mistake again.

  72. Posted by John

    Hey, anyone else notice that the music has been removed from the website? Someone must be listening here.

  73. Posted by John

    Interesting to see all the comments that this one generated. I haven’t been to the house, but I did look at the pictures. My take is that some of the negativity is caused by this house being located in San Francisco.
    1) The owner was probably not allowed to take down the house or do much with the facade, so it’s a Victorian outside and something else inside. Elsewhere, they may have rebuilt.
    2) This is not a rich person’s home. The remodel was done without a lot of money. Elsewhere, this might be a $500K house and would be judged in that light. In SF, it’s big money and people have expectations.
    3) Not everyone has the same aesthetics. But also, many people are not very visual. Instead of seeing the object or space as it is, they mentally translate it to an abstract representation and react to that. As a visual person myself (trained just a little in Art classes, but not an artist by profession), I think that I can sometimes spot this.
    4) Interesting to read tipster’s comments, although I mostly do not agree with them.
    OK, I do have to say that I do not like the light fixture in the bedroom. Now, that looks cheap, dated and out of place.

  74. Posted by noearch

    Good points John. I would agree with you. And yes, all kinds of opinions are welcome here. I have a few additional comments:
    1. The remodel was very simple, with very little change to the interior. The exterior is a beautiful example of a Victorian cottage, and I’m glad it was not altered. Planning codes and Design Guidelines are pretty strict about changing an historic facade, and I’m very appreciative of that.
    2. If one ignores the minor color changes to the interior, the minor light fixtures, the owner’s furniture, basically you have an intact, original, classic floor plan. The interior is basically a blank canvas for the new owner to change and adjust as they see fit. I admire that restraint. That’s what makes this house an attractive asset, I feel. It’s not overdone, and full of personal details. If necessary, the new owners could remodel the kitchen and baths to fit their taste. Big deal, pretty easy.
    3. I hope Tipster takes my comments with a “grain of salt”. I often am snarky, and often with tongue in cheek.

  75. Posted by Joshua

    Thank goodness the music is gone, it was terrible, as I noted on one of the first posts of this thread.
    As for noearch. Two of your quotes:
    “We often talk about how good design, well thought out design can reflect directly on a higher price for a property.”
    “The interior is basically a blank canvas for the new owner to change and adjust as they see fit.”
    So, which viewpoint are you settling upon? Is this an example of good design, or a blank canvas???

  76. Posted by Peter

    What a commotion! After all it’s just a modest Victorian cottage with a remodeled kitchen and couple of bathrooms. Who knew a couple pieces of glass and steel would cause an uproar?
    Also, for all of you who dislike this home because it’s not ‘homey’ enough or too ‘sterile’, check out what’s going on in Japanese residential architecture:
    http://whatwedoissecret.org/

  77. Posted by Archtype1

    Thanks for the link, Peter. Maybe the seller here can find a wealthy Japanese buyer. BTW, how much is this place psf?

  78. Posted by noearch

    Joshua, you need to expand your mode of thinking. It’s not an either/or comment I made; It’s a both/and.
    Peter: thanks for that link: those Japanese houses are absolutely beautiful.

  79. Posted by Joshua

    ^ so you think it’s a well-designed blank canvas. thanks for the enlightenment.

  80. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Yes, a lot of modern Japanese design is fab. Other examples not so much : http://whatwedoissecret.org/madebyblog/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/katayama9.jpg
    Even the cells in Abu Ghraib had windows in the doors.

  81. Posted by John

    Since we are on the topic of design, perhaps someone can provide me with some information. A few years ago, I bought a book on small apartment design and included a description of this apartment:
    http://books.google.com/books?id=1HZxfUcxfI0C&lpg=PA81&ots=erz6gVtoMh&dq=barbara%20%2Bsalas%20casa%20magarola&pg=PA81#v=onepage&q=barbara%20+salas%20casa%20magarola&f=false
    For some reason, the photos in the edition available online, are not very good, but I hope you can get the idea. My 2003 edition has more, different and better photos.
    I thought that this was a good use of a smaller space (775 Sq ft). It’s one big room, good for entertaining. There is a bathroom and a sleeping loft above the bathroom. The kitchen is linear, along a long wall with a sliding wall to conceal it. It’s in an old building with a high ceiling.
    I’ve never seen the space and also have no idea of the price range. Is there anything similar in SF?

  82. Posted by SocketSite

    The sale of 3537 21st closed escrow today with a reported contract price of $1,950,000 (2% under asking). Once again, design matters (whether you like it or not).

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