Open House Obsession: Mid-Century Gem by R. G. Watanabe Open This Sunday

Where: 121 Edgehill Way, Forest Hill
When: Sunday, February 10 from 2:pm to 4:00pm
What: A 4-bed, 2.5-bath Post & Beam house designed by Japanese-American architect R.G. Watanabe and built in 1960. New to the market this week and asking $1.298M.

It's an incredibly discreet little house, hidden behind a mature hedge on a narrow road– all you see is the carport, a hand-crafted wooden gate and a few outriggers above the hedge. You enter via a somewhat tired Japanese Style dry pebble garden without much clue as to what lies behind the red door. The exterior trim details are probably the most interesting– the railing around the deck and the long bench in the front courtyard (top.) Subtly traditional while still being modern, these details were executed by the same craftsmen who worked on the restoration of the Japanese Tea House.

The house been well-maintained, retaining the original shoji screens, but we especialy love the two-sided fireplace– incorporating traditional tansu chest design, raku ceramic tiles and a Le Corbusier-inflected cylindrical chimney. This main floor is open and airy, almost loft-like, with bedrooms downstairs, and all the rooms look out into a landscape of mature cypresses.


We'd probably restore the beams and outriggers to their original black to give a more graphic sense of the house's structure. Also get rid of the silly track fixtures. Overall, worth a visit if only as a footnote to San Francisco's built heritage.

Downside: Some buyers might want to re-configure the lower level bedrooms and redo the original (but still immaculate) bathrooms, and the steep downhill slope to the lot might not please everyone. The house sold in 2007 for $1.175M.

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