San Francisco is known for its postcard-perfect “Painted Ladies,” those colorful Victorians with ornate facades. But there’s actually a wild melange of housing styles packed within its 49 square miles. And it is possible to find a midcentury modern gem if you sift through the housing stock.
On one of the highest peaks in the city, we’ve spotted one of these midcentury marvels. It’s on the market for the first time since it was built in the late 1950s, and the custom-designed residence is now available for $6 million.
Commissioned by the family that has lived in the home since 1958, it was built in a San Francisco that’s just a faint memory today.
“There were few homes on Clarendon Heights at the time,” says the listing agent, Dona Crowder with Coldwell Banker, who also lives in the neighborhood.
She notes that utilities for the street didn’t go up until the 1930s. The centrally located hillside features about 100 houses and dead-end streets, and is surrounded by nature.
Each home built in the area is the reflection of an owner’s personal vision and the vision of the architect hired to execute on that vision.
The modernist firm Campbell and Wong came up with an ingenious way to accommodate the steep slope of this lot close to Twin Peaks.
The two-car garage was built street side, with the canopied and terraced entrance leading into a large center courtyard. The residence was placed at the rear of the downhill slope and features six bedrooms and 3.5 baths on three floors.
The front door opens to the middle level of the home, with a wall of windows that look out to jaw-dropping views of the city.
On the main level, the high-ceilings of the living and dining rooms include an original slatted-wood room divider. It can slide closed to define the spaces and also serves as an architectural feature.
One floor up are the three family bedrooms, with a private deck that overlooks the garden courtyard. The bedrooms contain pocket doors that can be opened so all three rooms can be combined to make one large space.
On the opposite side of the floor, a large double bedroom, walk-in closet, and en suite bath with an attached balcony serves as the main bedroom wing, with the second room used as an office, home gym, or sitting area.
Downstairs, the bottom level features a rumpus room and a guest suite with its own set of unique views.
The home, perched above the city, feels as if “you’re in your own resort,” according to Crowder.
At the same time, she says, you feel that you’re in the city. The location is within walking distance to Cole Valley shops and restaurants, and equally close to Tower Market and the shops of Diamond Heights.
It’s also a relatively easy commute to downtown or Silicon Valley, and a plenty nice place to set up a home office with views of the whole Bay Area.
“It’s kind of an inspired design,” Crowder says.
The idyllic home’s interiors rated publication in the 1961 House & Garden “Book of Building.” The mechanical systems—wiring, heating, and plumbing—have been updated along with the kitchen appliances, but other than that, the home looks as it did 60 years ago.
“It’s very original, which is what is so appealing about it,” she says. “It’s a collector’s piece.”