Friday, September 26, 2014

Late Postcards from San Francisco: Painted Ladies 2

Here are a few more Painted Ladies because I love them so. I bought a book about them when I was traveling and then came home to find an even better book I'd bought a couple of decades ago, after my previous trip. (I'm not waiting that long to go back again.)

These four nearly identical houses have been given distinct personalities via their color schemes. Which do you like best?

I choose the gray one with that crisp, delineated white trim with red accents. TThere may be some tiny touches of gold on it, too. I love seeing the shimmer of metallic paint on these houses but I gather it's controversial, not considered by everyone to be period-appropriate. But who cares? It was the Gilded Age, after all....

The light tan one looks timid in comparison with the others, doesn't it?

This block of amazing Queen Anne houses is painted entirely in shades of rose, blue, purple, gray, and tan, with metallic gold highlights. It's the most spectacular block that I found in the city, and around the corner from my B&B on Steiner Street:

Here's a detail. The painters picked out a lot of the wood detailing in many colors, for an effect that I find lively and rich without being over the top:

Here's another row of very similar houses with different paint schemes. It would be really fun to take a comparative look at these side by side, but the trees are in the way:

Here's a detail of one of those houses. As you can see, choosing a color scheme requires a lot of tricky decisions. The permutations are practically endless, and you need to be careful to highlight enough details to do justice to the decoration without going overboard. I think this house is successful:

I liked the saturated coral-orange paint on this house:

A closer look reveals tan, blue, and navy detailing. and just enough to make a statement:

After seeing a house like that, an all-white one seems like a blank canvas waiting too long for an artist. This house's architecture is more restrained that a lot of the others we've been looking at but an experienced color expert could choose a subtle scheme to turn it into a knockout. At least we can't complain about that brilliant bougainvillea:


  1. Your beautiful photos of these gorgeous painted ladies make me want to go back to San Francisco sometime soon.

  2. I agree! One of these houses painted all white is such an insult to the house. I stayed in a flat in one of these Victorians on Fillmore waaaaaay back in 1969. It was such a cool experience. I bet that house is worth a fortune today.

  3. Ooops! That's my old brain playing tricks on me again. We were on Sutter Street about two blocks up from Fillmore and about four blocks down from Larkin. There was an awesome hole-in-the-wall fish and chips place on Geary and Larkin. We went down to the Golden Gate Bridge to wave good-bye to the high school buddy of one of the friends I was staying with. He was in the Navy, and he was shipping out to Vietnam. He actually saw us up on the bridge and waved back! Memories.


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