Explore San Francisco Blog
Pop Gourmet Food Festival at J Pop Summit 2014
POP GOURMET FOOD FESTIVALRead Comments(No Comments) | Add Comment
Tomorrow and Sunday in Japantown: J POP Summit Festival
Read Comments(1 Comment) | Add Comment
The Dark Art of the Painted Lady
The Dark Art of the
Throughout the city, florid gingerbread houses
are taking a monochrome turn.
Mission and Bernal Heights
Douglas Burnham of the design firm Envelope A+D is locally considered the godfather of dark Victorians. These days, you’ll spot them sporadically around the Bay—in Noe Valley, Jingletown, lower Pacific Heights—imposing obsidian beauties popping against their macaron-hued neighbors. But Burnham was the among the first to overthrow the prevailing Painted Lady, having painted the exterior of client Claire Bigbie’s traditional Clipper Street home a uniform blackish blue over five years ago. The original intent wasn’t to make the facade stand out (the Victorian’s whimsical trim “looked like roasted marshmallows on a stick,” Burnham remembers), but to disguise the molding with an inky finish, highlighting the texture instead.
Mission and Russian Hill
The idea came from the dark houses of Amsterdam, which Burnham had recently visited. “It’s not some freaky, haunted house kind of thing there,” Burnham says. “It’s classic and proper, like a tuxedo.” Since then, the dark lady of Clipper Street has spawned dozens of jet-black imitators, not only Victorians, but also storefronts, museums, restaurants, and condos. Within the local design community, there’s ongoing debate as to which monochrome hue will emerge as the new black—forest green, dark teal, and midnight blue are top bets. “I always envied Claire’s black gingerbread house, but now that it’s turning more mainstream, I’m thinking we’ll paint ours monochrome fuchsia,” says interior designer Alison Damonte. “Don’t tell my neighbors.” After all, the Gothic look “is like any great song,” says Burnham. “You hear it too much, you get sick of it.”
Noe Valley and Marina
Why go to the dark side?
“It used to be that people were using 7 to 12 paint colors to make their houses look like wedding cakes,” says professional painter Jill French, cofounder of Heather and French painting. At $65 to $105 a gallon for high-end exterior paint, that gets pricey. “Now, we’re seeing more home owners sticking with one or two colors.”
“In a row of pastels, a dark house pops,” says architect Owen Kennerly of Kennerly Architecture & Planning. The trend coincides with a wave of younger Victorian buyers, says interior designer Melissa Guerrero. “They want to do something a little shocking.”
Camouflaging fussy trim
“My house is kind of a shack Victorian,” jokes Damonte of her periwinkle—“not by choice!”—Bernal Heights home. “If we paint it black, everything we don’t like will go away.” Going monochrome allows unloved details to blend in.
Letting the light work for you
On north-facing homes, “warm and pastel colors can look feckless” without sunlight to animate them, says Kennerly. A darker color—particularly one with some blue in it—will look rich even without direct light.
Minimizing spring cleaning
In the city, grime builds up on the edges of Victorian trim. “When the rain comes, it oozes down the house in sheets of gray and catches in the caulking joints,” says Kennerly. That film is more obvious against pastel paint.
Mission and Noe Valley
“Going monochrome lets the three-dimensional quality of the Victorian ornamentation speak for itself,” says architect Casper Mork-Ulnes of Mork Ulnes architects. The trim comes together as a cohesive tapestry rather than candy-colored fragments.
Playing down size
Bigger homes can seem less monolithic by going dark, says Guerrero. (Conversely, bright paint colors can make small homes appear larger.) Window glass looks dark from the outside, so a dark paint color unifies the volume of a house by downplaying contrast with the window openings.
“Monochrome black paint has a certain elegance and sophistication, like an Armani suit,” says Kennerly. Many owners also see it as an expression of their own modernist sensibilities. “It’s kind of like pets—people want their house to reflect who they are,” says Burnham. “And in San Francisco, a lot of people wear all black.”
Lower Haight and Castro
House Swap: Five steps to transition from safe to striking.
1. Do your homework
Burnham bought a can of black paint and a can of the darkest blue available, then mixed five versions in a spectrum. He and Bigbie had a custom formula made from the winning sample. Mork-Ulnes photoshopped a picture of his house with a series of gray-blue hues to choose the right one.
2. Invest in prep
Proper priming and sanding are key. “Dark paint colors show a lot of flaws and make the wood more susceptible to blistering,” says French. Use elastomeric caulk and epoxy filler, especially on south-facing exposures, to protect the wood from expanding and contracting when it heats up.
Cole Valley and Noe Valley
3. Consider the pigment
Pick a paint with a high pigment ratio, which indicates a greater volume of solids. Benjamin Moore’s aura exterior paints are a designer-recommended choice for quality and longevity. The more sheen, the better—it gives the home better UV protection than a matte color. Stay away from hues on the yellow end of the spectrum, which are prone to fading.
4. Seal the color
Top the paint with at least two finish coats to protect the color and the underlying wood.
5. Delay the fade
A lighter color lasts 30 percent longer than a darker color—even more in sunny neighborhoods. (“We should start a colony of tiny black matchbox houses in the foggy Outer Richmond,” jokes Burnham.) Benjamin Moore recommends retouching paint on a southern exposure every three to five years—Bigbie repainted the south side of her clipper street residence after four. Annual power-washing can stretch the time between repaintings.
Lower Haight and Cole Valley
How much would it cost to repaint one of Alamo Square’s famed Painted Ladies dark?
$15,000 to $25,000, says Philip Storey of RedHill Painting, which specializes in restoring historic Victorians. “That quote will depend on the condition of the home and its orientation to the sun,” he says. Some budget-minded clients opt to paint only the front facade, rather than the entire house. On a Painted Lady, that would run around $8,000 to $12,000.
Read Comments(No Comments) | Add Comment
A Cannoli and Coffee Moment
A Cannoli and Coffee Moment North Beach cannoli and coffee go so well together that I am glad I live in the Mission District. But if you are sharing a cannoli with a good friend, do you know the proper way to cut a cannoli in half so that you don’t crush the delicate pastry? Read the full article…
1906 San Francisco is Smoldering
What the Hills Y’all: Adventures of a Texas Girl living in San Francisco
what the hills y’all: Explore San Francisco Food Tour, Mission North 4 Replies What the Hills Y’all: Adventures of a Texas girl living in San Francisco Have you ever been on a food tour? I’ve never been on one, but since I live in San Francisco in a mecca of food comas, I thought it would Read the full article…
Lard Becomes Fashionable Again
Why Fat is Back on the Menu Lard is being smeared on sourdough, draped over scallops and boiled up for triple-cooked chips – and it might even be good for us. Are you a fan of pig fat? Lardo di colonnata, the fanciest of fats. Photograph: Alamy You’ve got to love food Read the full article…
BYOB Summer Brunch Pop-Up
From Sosh: HAUTE BRUNCH POP-UP WITH CHEF ANTHONY YANG We know you love brunch (who doesn’t?), so we wanted to let you know about one of the coolest brunches in town: Ante Meridian, a pop-up brunch by star chef Anthony Yang (formerly of Per Se and Michael Mina). In a converted mansion called Read the full article…
Dandelion to open new chocolate factory in Mission
From Google, Maybe, to Chocolate Yes Tweet By Lydia ChávezPosted May 23, 2014 10:34 pm Google May Come to the Mission District, Feb. 17,2014 Where New Tech Arrives, Old Tech Once Roared,Feb.28,2014 Start-up Sells for Millions, Founders Turn to Chocolate, Nov.23, 2011 It looked earlier this year that Google or another tech company would be moving into the old Howard Read the full article…
Clarion Alley Mural Project VS Tour Guides (Including Explore SF?)
As Tourism Rises, So Do Mural Turf Clashes Sign posted on Clarion Alley. Tweet By Daniel HirschPosted May 19, 2014 7:05 am The Mission’s status as a global tourism destination has never been more acutely felt—walking down any of the Mission’s increasingly famous mural alleys, French, Japanese, German, Korean, Swedish and the ubiquitous snap of cameras can Read the full article…