Hidden behind the relatively unassuming façade of a former warehouse, the modern 5,000 square foot home at 421 Tehama Street is likely unlike any other space you’ve seen in San Francisco.


The first-floor floor plan is open, yet compartmentalized:


The second floor features two bedrooms, work spaces and a pod for laundry and a bath.


The master suite on the third floor opens to a large roof deck.


And the master bath features a wall of glass, frosted for a bit of (newly needed) privacy.


∙ Listing: 421 Tehama (3/2.5) 5,279 sqft – $3,000,000 [421tehama.com]

44 thoughts on “Hidden In Plain Sight and Unlike Any Other In San Francisco”
  1. Really nice loft, but that roof deck is kind of a downer now with that massive new building looking directly down on them…

  2. They lost me with the clumsy astro turf rolled out in a rush without any care to even flatten the surfaces out. In the REAL world, 3 million is still a lot if money and that roof deck is unacceptable. I would rather keep my single family home on Prado street in the Marina, with a real back yard with actual grass, trees and flowers, for what is probably the same cost.

  3. Where’s the fridge? And is that really a countertop microwave in such an otherwise minimalist kitchen?

  4. Honey, the kitchen-capsule is a little grungy. Can you take it out for a quick power wash?

  5. The pole in the middle of the kitchen island kind of defeats the silly “pod” lines… and I’m sure that stubbing one’s toe on the lip, on a 2:00 a.m. snack run, gets old quickly.
    Overall I agree with anon94123 – if I have $3 million, I can think of a number of better (more cost-effective) uses than an idiosyncratic loft in one of the grungier parts of SoMa.

  6. I disagree with the previous comments. Given the size and uniqueness this loft is a bargain, and I have to think it will sell well over asking. The green astro-turf can be easily replaced. Although I wish the pods were somehow flush with the flooring, they are really effective at creating separation while maintaining an open floorplan. Kudos to the designer! Very nice…

  7. I recognize that if you can afford a $3 million loft you’re likely not going to be cleaning it; but how does one keep all those exposed ducts, beams, fans, ledges, pipes, etc. clean? Every time I see listings like this all I can think of is dust collecting everywhere. Maybe I’m too practical or don’t know how to think outside the box.

  8. I think it’s cool. If I were single and able to afford it I’d be taking a closer look. Sure the location sucks but as long as Uber drivers can find it OK that’s a minor issue. And at least the marginal location means there’s great potential for appreciation over time as the area (hopefully) gets gentrified.

  9. Ultra hip. For an airline terminal.
    Tho I like the Virgin terminal better, on 2nd thought.
    Maybe this could be a helicopter terminal?

  10. Looks like a tasteful version of a “Real World” house. Maybe use it for a reality show with a bunch of graphic designers.

  11. Seems like a lot of odd spaces. Many little spaces with miscellaneous chairs and sofas with no real cohesiveness. Are there not enough outlets? I’m seeing wires showing everywhere, even across the floor in one pic. And 2 dining areas, the 2nd one being on the 2nd floor? So I’m supposed to schelp my food up and down the stairs for that? It just seems odd overall.

  12. I think the pods and compartments are an interesting design statement, but I would have to see things up close to check out the finishes. There is a point where raw and industrial crosses over to cheap — you take out the furniture and you are left with a lot of plain materials, boob lights, and bare light bulbs (and some nice finishes as well). That bathroom on the lower level, for example, that looks like a doctor’s office or budget hotel in Europe. There is a lot of potential there, due to the square footage and general structure.
    I agree about the microwave… it is like the designers forgot about things people actually use in a kitchen.

  13. In all seriousness, the biggest bummer is really those condos starting directly into the master br and and bath.
    Also, it looks like both dining spaces are on the main level.
    Some of the finishes look a little on the cheap side (plywood siding outside master bath), but it is a pretty great raw space.
    Not the neighborhood I’d choose to sink that kind of money into.

  14. Cold. Just plain cold. It appears there may be no insulation at roof (no evidence of insulation fasteners). With the numerous skylights (wrapped like cured meat), this place will be a doozy to heat.
    But – if one wants to spend $3 mil. on a place like this, then the cost of energy may not be a high priority.
    Anyone think there is an excessive # of light fixtures/bulbs/light strips?

  15. Not feeling the collection of oh-hum plants in the living room. An over-scale art piece on the wall would do the room better justice … but then again, I’m just jealous I don’t own two sets of washers and dryers.

  16. Fix the schools in the city, that will solve the problem of a lack of families. For most people, the decision between San Francisco and Burlingame or Marin or Walnut Creek comes down to schools, has nothing to do with cost.

  17. “Fix the schools in the city”
    Very tough nut to crack. SF has devolved over the decades so that the public schools are largely poor, more difficult to educate kids. So middle, upper-middle, and upper class parents don’t want to “sacrifice” their kids by sending them into classrooms filled with such kids, to the detriment of their own children’s education. Thus they either leave the city or send their kids to private schools. You need a critical mass of wealthier families in the public schools to change that. It may be happening very, very slowly as the city gentrifies. But given the prevailing “private schools or leave the city” strategy, it will take many decades, if at all, before the public schools are ever “fixed.” A real tragedy that the various local administrations let it get this bad.
    I’m a huge public school supporter. But no way would I send my kids to SF public schools. They only get one chance at grades K-12. If I couldn’t afford private school, I’d move to where the schools are better.

  18. You could very easily solve the problem of large numbers of uneducatable poor kids in public schools by simply sending children to their local schools and not busing them all over the place. Schools surrounded by wealthy families would be full of wealthy kids (some might even be smart, like their rich parents!). Schools surrounded by ghettoes will be filled with poor kids with lousy grades and discipline problems. Not politically correct to say it, but we all know it’s true.
    Let the hate flow. I can take it.

  19. The schools are fine, better than fine even. San Francisco overall has schools that are better than the statewide average, so it is somewhat incongruous to claim to be a huge public school supporter but in the very same breathe refuse to send your kids to above average public schools.
    Jimmy wants to re-segregate the public schools, ala George Wallace. Can’t say that I am personally in favor of that. Every child deserves a decent education, that does not happen if you segregate all the poor black and Latino kids into separate schools. The system we have now allows kids in poor neighborhoods access to better schools, as long as they are motivated enough to get there themselves.

  20. SF schools are not fine, unless one has a very lenient definition of fine. Better than the statewide average is an extremely low bar, and I’m just seeking more than that for my own kids. It is not incongruous at all to be a big public school supporter yet decide not to sacrifice one’s own kids to a mediocre public school education (which is all that is available) when there are truly fine private schools available. As I noted, they only get one K-12 experience, and I’m not punishing my kids with a mediocre one out of some loyalty to a principle. I’d rather not pay $50,000 a year for private schools for my two kids, and I’m not pleased at all that the poor public schools make this expense necessary (unless I want to move out of SF — but my 15 minute commute to the financial district is worth more than the $50,000 to me).
    By the way, Lowell is a fine high school. My kids may go there.

  21. “Better than the state average” in a state which ranks dead last nationally in public school quality?
    That’s comforting. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that NVJ does not actually have children and thus the topic is, dare I say it, academic to him.
    Has it occured to you that our children will compete on a national, if not global, level for university admissions (and after that, jobs)?
    Seems not.

  22. I have great respect for NVJ – an extremely smart guy (went to Cal Tech for a while, I believe). And I truly value his views and opinions. I think that SF public schools is about the only area where we really disagree.
    Jimmy hit the nail on he head. I don’t care if my kids are the top-top at everything. But I do want them to be prepared to not get buried in this global economy. SF public schools ain’t gonna cut it for that.
    formidable doer, I understand the Lowell strategy, but the problem is that SF middle schools are truly, absolutely sub-par, and those are rough years to be a kid as it is. Lowell is not hard at all to get into if you are an upper middle class (or more) pretty smart kid. It is extremely difficult to get into if you are a middle class or lower public school product. Very sad.

  23. Right, and to get your kids into Lowell, you know what you have to do. Put them in private school but pull them out in time to have one or two years in public school where they’ll be bored as hell and ace all their tests so Lowell will accept them. While Lowell is a public high school, most of its students have private school backgrounds.

  24. For most people, the decision between San Francisco and Burlingame or Marin or Walnut Creek comes down to schools, has nothing to do with cost.
    Where do you get that from, Jimmy? Obviously it has to do with cost, because otherwise families would just stay and pay $30-40k a year for the best SF private schools. In other words, “schools” are not separate from “cost.”

  25. I can’t resist – do any of you actually have kids, or kids in SF schools, especially elementary? Sure, there are lousy ones, but there are many good and several great ones as well. I’ve experienced one so-so and one great (I moved katdip jr. in 3rd grade) and even the so-so one had lots of good academic and enrichment programs. The one I moved him to is not one of the “elite” (rooftop, alvarado, miraloma), but stacks up against all of those in terms of test scores, educational opportunities, extracurriculars, etc. He’s had great teachers and is doing very well.
    Pretty shocking to think that getting an SFUSD education somehow condemns kids to a life of global unemployment. I came out of an OK public school in a small town, went to a competitive-but-not-ivy liberal arts college, have an advanced degree and have been gainfully employed for 30 years. Given our families level of education and privilege, I really can’t see my kid NOT being able to achieve those same things.
    For K-5 especially, I’m a firm believer that schools can be “good enough” without being over-the top academic. Most education comes from what the parents demonstrate at home, to supplement the actual school. Because we live near where we work and have a kid in public school, my partner and I can work part time, pick up our kid almost every day after school, make sure he learns good homework and study skills, and have time/money to shuttle him to all kinds of activities. If I either moved to the burbs or paid for private schools, we both would have to work and/or commute more, thereby spending less time helping him learn. It’s all about making informed choices, rather than kneejerk reactions to “bad SF schools.”

  26. I went to public school in midwest, college at Duke and phd at berkeley. I would never send my kids to SF publics school

  27. I attended a public school in the north of Canada, in a small town, where I learned two languages (full immersion) and took an International Baccalaureate diploma, which was somewhat rare at the time (’80s). I’ve heard it’s quite popular now. I then attended a public university, followed by a Ph.D at MIT.
    I also would not send my child to SF public school, nor am I especially happy about sending her to ANY public or private school in California or anywhere else in the US as I believe that peoples’ educational outcomes here are on balance quite poor in comparison to the free public education I received in Canada.
    But I live here now so I’m stuck doing the best I can in a mediocre system. C’est la vie.

  28. I have two children, one is in a public Mandarin immersion school here. The other will be starting Kindergarten at the same school in the fall. San Francisco has many good public K-5 schools, at least 20 that I would be happy to send my child to. A buddy of mine spends $25k/yr to send his daughter to CAIS and I can assure you that his daughter does not speak any more Mandarin than mine.
    There are even some decent Middle Schools here, but only a couple. Luckily, they are expanding the Mandarin immersion program through 8th grade, so we are going to be fed into Aptos, which is a fine school.
    I think that wealthy people who look down their noses at people who send their children to public school are exactly what is wrong with America. We are becoming an increasingly bifurcated society, with the haves taking all the resources, leaving everyone else with nothing. I agree with katdip that parenting is what really matters, especially in the K-8 years.

  29. So Jimmy and motomayhem, please illuminate us on the institution worthy enough to educate your precious children. Have you actually looked at any SF schools? What exactly are you seeking and not finding?
    When I went through public school we had bigger classes, equally mixed socio-economic diversity, fewer extracurricular activities (no garden, no trips to the symphony, no free musical instrument instruction), and equivalent facilities. I managed to get a very good education.
    I have been universally pleased by the teachers my son has had, and the rigor of the curriculum. He loves to go to school every day. Would a $25K+ private school be better? Maybe marginally, primarily by weeding out any english-language learners, special needs kids, and establishing a cohort of only upper-class kids – not my cup of tea, sorry.

  30. Here’s what I remember most about my two decades in the educational system. When I finally got to MIT, I was surrounded there by truly brilliant people. Many of them had amazing gifts, and I was in awe. And the place pushed me to my emotional and intellectual limits.
    Let’s just say that grade school was not nearly so uplifting, and leave it at that. The problem comes down to being surrounded by idiots, who are, as it turns out, a huge chunk of the population.

  31. Yeah, Jimmy, I had a similar experience. I went to very sub-par public schools in a small midwestern town. I got into Stanford. Yes, I know, one could argue this proves that bad public schools are just fine, as long as you have decent parents (which I did, sort of). However, when I got to Stanford I was way, way behind the others. I made it though (Chem E major, middle of the class, then law school top of the class), but it was a horrible shock, and very traumatic. Almost dropped out more than once. I basically caught up through a ton of stress and hard work, but my better-educated friends (generally from private schools on the coasts) had a much easier time because they had such a lead to start with.
    If you can’t afford SF private schools? That’s fine. I don’t think SF public schools are dangerous cesspools, just very subpar (and I know the chinese immersion program well). But I can afford private school, and they are far better than the public schools, and there is no way I’m going to set my daughters up for the trauma I experienced at a good university. Why not give them the tools to be able to deal better than I could? Yeah, maybe it built character, my my kids work hard and don’t need character thrust upon them artificially. Like I said, I’m not willing to sacrifice my kids on the principle (in which I believe) that public schools would be better if only the better-educated, higher-income parents sent their kids to them.

  32. The funny thing was, I got to MIT, and I met all these people from upper-class East Coast backgrounds who had attended “certain” famous private schools. I can’t even remember which ones. And I remember thinking to myself… “who are all these people and where do they come from?” Getting in to MIT was, for them, a Very Important Thing. Their parents had groomed them almost from birth for this moment.
    The fact that there was a class system in the US and these kids were it’s physical embodiment simply had never occurred to me. They were like these aliens from outer space. But, yeah, eventually, I got over it and out-competed many of them… but it was a huge culture shock. I can’t even imagine what Harvard or Cambridge would have been like, in retrospect. (Having taken a few classes at Harvard, I can imagine it now). I think Cambridge is still off-limits for a small town hick like me.

  33. i prefer my kids to be surrounded by other gifted kids in an educational setting. I dont particularly care about socioeconomic status, but its easier to surround your kids with equally talented kids in private school setting. Similar expereince as jimmy. I was ill prepaerd when i got to duke. I got there because i had a high IQ and great SAT scores, but i didn’t know anywhere near as much as the 95% of kids who came from a better educational background. I had a strong learning curve and handicap.
    im not looking for better than average. im looking for top 5%

  34. I guess that’s it in a nutshell. One may wish we lived in a world where all were equal and had equal opportunity, and thus the SF public school cross-section of society would breed a well-rounded, non-snob would would nevertheless get a great education.
    But that (sadly) is not the world we live in. Bottom line is that the top 5% rarely even interacts with the bottom 50% in anything more than a cursory manner. SF public schools are not only generally the bottom 50% from a socio-economic standpoint, but the bottom 33% because most who can go private do so (and the middle class simply leaves town). Given the options, I’d rather have my kids in a classroom that’s is generally filled with gifted, interesting kids (there are some boneheads – albeit rich ones – in there too, but not many) as that is a better educational environment than one filled with non-english speaking hard to educate kids (although I’m sure there are some brilliant kids fro mthis group, albeit not many). Is it worth the expense? Yeah, although I must admit I’m glad that the expense is really not an issue for me.
    I’m really happy for those who are content with the public option. Far less expensive. I’m reminded of my small hometown, where they were all very proud of how “clean” the two high schools were and simply ignored the fact that the average SAT score was well below the national mean and only 1/3 of the graduates went to any college at all (I was one of two kids in my class that went out of state). Depends on what you value.

  35. We have a fundamental disagreement about the proper role and responsibilities of the citizen in society. That is fine, there is room for more than one viewpoint in the world. I think you and Jimmy have some valid points: I was the smartest kid in my class at my large small-town high school in Northern California and did drama, band, chess club, honor society and even worked part time my Senior year. I took all the honors classes and got straight A’s. And I was woefully unprepared for Caltech and failed out after two years. I don’t think that the small Catholic High School in town would have prepared me any better though.
    As you admit, Lowell is a public school that offers a great academic prepartion for college. And I am quite sure that most of the students there are from SFUSD public schools. I asked a neighbor of mine, who teaches there and she told me that was the case. I don’t think they publish any statistics though. SOTA is a great school as well. So if 20% of the SFUSD high school graduates get a great education, how you can logically hold the point of view that the system is terrible? Not everyone in the world should go to college.
    You claim that only the bottom 33% economically attend school at SFUSD is an odd claim to make. I don’t know the overall stats for the district, but I know the parents in my daughters class and they include a Doctor, A Tech Millionaire, A Tech Writer for Oracle, a Journalist, a Banker, a pair of Architects and a City Planner. And that is out of a class of 18. One of that bunch is a very quiet 1%’er too. So at least 1/3 Upper Middle Class and above. We are hardly in the most desired school in district either.
    The students at most Sunset and Richmond schools are predominantly middle class as well.

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