I Could Live Here: Cool and Clever Victorian in Noe Valley
This is an old favorite. I've wanted to live here since long before there was an "I Could Live Here." I first saw this moody San Francisco Victorian profiled just after its completion in 2007, when it was profiled by the NYT and promptly lit up the blogosphere. The difference today? It's for sale. The rub? I still can't live here, because this uber-popular abode now costs nearly twice as much ($2,250,000) as when it sold in 2005 ($1,368,000). And I couldn't afford it then, either.
But I can wax poetic about why I love it, and maybe even come to a Zen-like realization that it's not actually THIS house that I covet, but the possibilities that still lay dormant (and not yet priced out of my reality) in another one.
See this was a "a tattered Victorian duplex—two stacked flats with a typical series of dark, cellular rooms" when the new owners got their creative little hands on it.
After noshing on pizza and braised kale at Delfina in the Mission, they called up the architecture firm envelope a+d, who designed the restaurant, and asked them to design their house. They also rang up Flora Grubb to transform the back yard.
Two years later, the sleepy Victorian was painted matte black with an electric blue door, and the interiors were every apartment-dwelling hipster's dream. Mine included. Graphic wall treatments, a modern open kitchen with exposed rafters, a creative studio on the ground floor that opened—via garage door—to the new landscaped backyard. They opted for the dramatic over the sensible—a blood red bathroom with black trough sink, a cerulean fireplace and a sprawling work space filled with mood boards and art books instead of two extra bedrooms or even a rental unit.
What's so appealing about the property is that it's an unlikely style, in an unlikely neighborhood and was presided over by and unlikely couple*. But what I love more than the house itself is the level of transformation and the way the building now stands out against its predictable neighbors. It's something I dream of pulling off myself, so actually buying this one and missing out on a creative process of my own (and all the ohs and ahs that would surely follow) would seem to miss the point.
Maybe something like this Bernal Heights fixer-upper is more what I'm actually looking for. As long as I have envelope a+d on speed dial.*The pair, made up of Claire Bigbie and Jay Shapiro, was young (30 and 33), and the grown-up NYT got a kick out of the fact that they were skateboarders and had grungy, creative jobs (at a DIY magazine and a skateboard company). The blogosphere wasn't so kind. They clamored for details on how the unlikely duo came up with that much cash (they even broke out their calculators and estimated the remodel at $500k), with the inevitable trust-fund accusations thrown around.