2675 Sutter

388 Market

Gym for Residential and Commercial Tenants

388 Market St. is a pie shaped building in downtown San Francisco with a view of the Ferry Building, where it tapers to a point. The gym has twenty quasi-pillars with thin slices of window in between. The building manager wanted a motivational space and had considered keeping the monochrome color scheme and hanging posters with encouraging words. I suggested using color instead. I chose twelve colors that graduate from darker and neutral in the back to both saturated and pale as you move towards the tip of the pie, leading the eye to the light and view.

18th and de Haro

The 18th St side of the project is nearly complete. Work on the De Haro side continues.


Ten Mile Ranch Hotel, Fort Bragg

Sanchez Before


Sanchez After


Mateo St.


Mangels Ave.


2nd Ave. Queen Anne


Sanchez Before


Sanchez After


18th and Hartford Before


18th and Hartford After


18th and Hartford




Sanchez Before


Sanchez After


Sanchez Detail


Coyote Crossing, Santa Cruz

Residence 1 Before


Residence 1 After


Diamond Heights Condos




Kind of Blue

19th Before

19th St.

19th St. After


Whitney Before


Whitney After


Guerrero and 16th Before


Guerrero and 16th After


California St. Before


California St. (The North-Facing Jabberwocky)

jabberwocky-californiaC2 Paint is one of my favorite companies and their colors are superlative. I was lucky enough to participate in the naming process for  the new colors in the latest fandeck. Many of my names made the cut, including Jabberwocky, an earthy charcoal, for which I wrote this couplet (a BA in English is useful):

Twas jetty, and like sable doves, did gyre in mica’d twists. Gleaming was the shale shade behind the raven mist.

9th Ave. Before


9th Ave. After


9th Ave. Detail


Kids Rock

Each kid on Hoffman got a multi-colored room to reflect her and his unique personality. Keeping the color relationships tighter on the wall, even though three walls are unique colors, keeps the small rooms feeling spacious.

Lucia’s Room


Finn’s Room


Classic Victorian 15th and Noe

15th and noe victorian

When I say “classic” I mean it: many Victorians were painted white with black sashes as we have done here. The particular white, of course, is critically important. We chose Ann Hall Color Design 219, a warmish, creamy but very clean white, to create a non-blinding opal of a building. Base is C2 Vex for main and C2 Jailhouse Rock for the storefront.

Classic Victorian Detail

15th and noe detail

Springtime on Shotwell


Juanita Way


Monochrome doesn’t have to be grey upon grey upon grey, nor the exact same  color made lighter and darker in succession.  At Juanita Way, all the main rooms flow into one another without doors, so I wanted the colors to be fluid yet distinct. Green is a broad term.


Hoffman Before

119 hoffman before

Hoffman After


Hoffman Detail


Ashton Ave. Before


Ashton Ave. After


Ashton Detail


Rivera St. Before


Rivera St. After


An  almost floral color adds grace to  the simplest box of a house.

Rivera Detail


Bay St. Before


Bay St. After


Bay St. Horizontal Detail


 San Felipe


Formerly an Easter peep yellow, this lovely Spanish style home now seems fashioned from the inside out in a creamy, natural stucco color (PPC-W7 White Wing 150%).

San Felipe Detail


PPC-B13 Paper Bag Brown: casings and shutters

C2-217 Spearmint: sashes

22nd St.

This beautiful Victorian in the Mission was transformed by opening up the floor plan and encasing much of the surfaces (gum wood moldings, lincrusta, exposed beams, furniture and many walls) in  beautiful, full spectrum  PPC-W7 White Wing.  This neutral cream feels clean and bright but is rich enough to complement all the natural materials we chose and a bit of color too.

22nd-dr2kitchenThe dark hallway becomes frosted and bright.


Even the piano is included under an art wall that will contain an assortment of iconography.


Duboce Before

valencia-duboce-master-beforeDuboce After


Duboce Detail




Appleton Before


Appleton After

appleton master

I am thrilled that this Victorian is finally finished. After removing asbestos shingles and completely restoring this petite home, this Mexican-Alaskan couple wanted  a bold presence that reflects their two cultures. In a town where grey is a la mode (and there’s nothing wrong with that), it is the cat’s pajamas to have the opportunity to strut.

Appleton Detail

appleton scales

Appleton Detail

appleton detail garage

Page St. Nouveau

page st nouveau master

Page St. Detail

page nouveau detail

Quiet Elegance on Magellan


26th Avenue Facade


26th Avenue Back


Facade colors repeated

Scott Before


 Scott Detail Before


The couple who owns this Victorian requested a very handsome, somewhat conservative house with small elements of surprise. The original green felt overly sweet and the accents somewhat clunky. Further, there are already several green houses on the street. We are still contemplating the color of the front doors, which will be in high gloss.

 Scott After


 Scott After Detail


Chenery St.

When I came on this job the scaffolding was already up. For this reason I do not have a “before” picture, but if you can imagine it, this house was entirely white with “painters’ tape” blue trim.


California St. Before


California St. After

Formerly a solid and monotonous khaki green, we gave this 1960s cinder block house a Bauhaus treatment in PPC-G12 Funston Gray, C2-229 Bluegrass for the balcony and garage, and pure black. We paid homage to steampunk by calling out our pipes in black.

Lake St. Before

Lake St. After

Lake St. Detail

21st Ave. Before

21st Ave. After

21st Ave. Behind the Trees

21st Ave. Detail

California St. Before

California St. After

California St. Detail

12th Ave.

12th Ave.  Detail

The trim is indeed a warm rose-white: an homage to the Art Noveau and Deco periods.

Cumberland Bedroom

Cumberland Bath

23rd St. Before

(50 Shades of Pink)

23rd St. After

23rd St. Detail

Green St. Before

Green St. After

Green St. Detail

Beaver St. Before

Beaver St. After

Corners Tavern, Walnut Creek

Spring Blooms Eternal on Pierce and Noe

Pierce Street

Noe Street

Kitchen, Hallway, Glimpse of LR

For this 1940s marina style house, the client asked for: comfortable, classic, modern, funky, traditional, old, welcoming, pretty, bold and soft. The house was painted tan throughout when I arrived. Dark walnut floors, quite a refreshing treat from the usual red oak parquet found in homes of this period, allowed me a great range of temperature in the colors. Pictured are C2-013 Don Cesar, C2-346 Shaker 150%, and PPC-GRN16 Mariposa Spring. Trim and ceiling are C2-416 Lumen. “Man Room” is C2-483 Shale.

LR Detail

The pink color on the walls, Don Cesar, feels at once spritely, intriguing, calm and sophisticated. Most interestingly, it functions as a neutral backdrop for a wide range of colors in the house: black, white, linen, cherry red, yellow, green, and even blue.

“Man Room” in Progress

Victoria Street Woodworker’s Dream

Victoria Street

This beautiful, hand-built house was originally pale yellow and beige. The new owners wanted to transform its wedding cake feel while preserving an air of fable: a sort of sophisticated story book.

Victoria Street Detail

Guerrero North Shingled Victorian


Guerrero South

Guerrero South

Diamond Street

Diamond St.


23rd Street Landmark Circa 1880

North-facing Landmark Victorian

For this North-facing Victorian the owners had chosen an incandescent yet mellow lemony yellow for the body: C2-156 Limerick. They wanted a cheery and luminous color for an exposure that can feel cold and dim. I was called in because they were completely stumped on the accent colors. Everything they tried made this petite facade look like a carnival. Our aim was to highlight this lovely landmark from the 1860s without over-dressing. For the main trim I chose C2-418 Rolling Stone; highlights are in Philip’s Perfect Colors B8 Winter Grass; recessed elements are in C2-167 Sanguine; window sashes and door are in C2-049 Raku. Rather than use gold leaf for the decorative features, which I thought would detract from our lovely yellow, I suggested platinum or silver.  In terms of color selection relative to placement, the secondary accents, Sanguine and Winter Grass are green and champagne-colored respectively; the idea here being to accentuate the verticality of the woodwork by minimizing strong contrast on the horizontal plane. The highest contrast colors (Rolling Stone and Raku) are placed on the vertical elements. As a side note, this color combination would probably not be appropriate for a Southern or Western exposure. Certain yellow and red pigments are inherently a bit more vulnerable to sunlight regardless of the high quality of the paint.

Accentuate the Vertical

Cow Hollow Transformation

Ocatvia Before

Octavia After

Octavia Colors

Octavia Detail I

Deep Impact

Come into my parlor…


Design Must Consider Every Angle

I recently completed a design for someone who had experienced a dramatic change of events. In a fairly low lit Victorian in the Mission the walls had been painted very dark and stately colors. There was a heaviness in a majority of the house that needed to be lifted. The client frequently travels to Mexico and the house is adorned with textiles from all over that country. We used rich, relatively (to what they were certainly and then some) saturated colors, and lightened the value (light/dark ratio) of the house-our deepest color being some fifty percent lighter than the previous darkest color. In this picture you can see Philip’s Perfect Colors G4 Steeley (a deep blue-green grey) in the hallway, leading into Pratt and Lambert’s 30-6 Delicate Petal (a strong violet pastel) in the dining room, and C2-092 Tomfoolery (a cantaloupe orange) peeking out from the kitchen. As an aside, I would like to comment that straight men from outside the United States, or those from here with affinities for the exogenic, in my experience, have virtually no gender associations with color; that is to say, they have no qualms about a beautiful lilac dining room.

Clash of the Titans

Electric Kool-Aid Media Room

There is a certain beauty in frisson: in this case, colors tensely vibrating together; on the precipice of ugliness lies an intense  and mysterious beauty. The color on the wall is C2-150 Curry.

Other Avenues

Produce Corner Before

When I first moved to the Outer Sunset I practically begged this fabulous neighborhood coop to let me do a color consultation. Several years later, when they were in a position to take action-this being a cooperative, things take a good amount of time-I was finally contacted to design the color. Several worker-owners commented on the chaotic inhumanity of the space: “Please save us from the psychological stress!” I understood this completely. The space felt like a warehouse: completely white walls and ceilings. For the worker-owners,  there was insufficient stimulation and energy to sustain them while they worked. For the customers, a completely white environment not only delivered a blank experience but also a chaotic navigational experience; simply stated, it was very difficult to see or find anything in the store because it was devoid of any color “landmarks.”

Start Your Engines

Produce Corner After

Both customers and workers are thrilled and buoyed by the changed environment. Customers have commented on the colors themselves, but more often on the palpable change in energy in the store, without necessarily noticing the colors. One of the neurological effects of colors is creating homeostasis: in a completely white environment, devoid of stimulation, human beings often will create internal stimulation to compensate, thereby creating agitated mental and psychological states. Sufficient stimulation, on the other hand, can create  a sense of both peace  and sustained energy.

Where are the Bulk Spices?

The Bulk Spices

The house to the right originally appeared in the book House Colors as an example of Mediterranean color. The owner had copied the colors from a house he admired, but once those colors were on his house, he realized they were not right for him. He showed me his back patio that was adorned with glass tiles he had found in the Amalfi region of Italy. I decided to lighten the overall feel of the house: I chose Ann Hall 146 for the body ( sunnier with less ochre than the original) and PPC G4-Steeley for the base (a bluer and glassier green than might be considered traditional-to echo the glass of his back patio). I also changed the white, which I

Mediterranean Uplift

felt was too stark and too yellow, to C2-349 Linger, a soft, almost rosy marble white that I think is more harmonious with the actual marble of the foyer. Garage and side door are matched to the wine red of the clad window sashes. The effect is, I hope, a gentle riff on both Mediterranean  style and the primary color triad.

Primary Colors

In a Marina style house in Noe Valley organic design forces conspired to allow me to employ the three primary colors together but shifted: each color was not quite true. Instead of true blue, I used turqoise; instead of true red, flamingo.

C2-143 Ecru (“yellow”) + C2-044 Flamingo (“red”) +

C2-235 Salty Brine (“blue”) = Perfect Color Triad

Lake Street (Before)

Lake Street (After)

Lake Street (Detail)

And on the interior front…

View From the Nouveau Louis XVI Dining Room

C2-343 Rickshaw non-reflective flat (ceiling)

C2-368 Serene 75% satin (trim)

View From the Ineffable Living Room

PPC-V1 Dusk matte (walls)

PPC-G14 Dakon Gray eggshell (shelf inset)

C2-368 Serene 75% satin (trim)

C2-343 Rickshaw + C2-368 Serene non-reflective flat (ceiling)


To further illustrate my “invisibility,” here are two recently completed interior designs for two Mid-Century houses, very similar architecturally and each residing atop a hill in San Francisco.

Art Collectors in Forest Hills

This family has an amazing and diverse art collection, which it was their express desire to highlight. The couple has very young children so they also requested a design that was functional and easy maintain; I therefore used very few (4) colors in this 2 bedroom house, not including ceilings and trim.  For the living room and master bedroom we used Philip’s Perfect Colors B4 Beachwood, a shimmering full spectrum beige that I recently used on an exterior. This color not only is a rich and flexible backdrop to the couple’s collection, but it also contains just enough red to balance their predominately though subtley green furnishings. For the foyer we chose C2-235 Slaty Brine, a slightly dusky yet energizing torquoise.

Self-Proclaimed Non-Art Collectors in Golden Gate Heights

This couple had just bought their house from a family of art collectors who had painted the house pretty much beige everywhere. Now let me be clear, I do not think that beiges and whites are necessarily the  best backdrops for artwork in a residential or non-museum setting. (For fascinating colors used in a museum please visit the De Young Museum some time.) As with many design choices, it depends. In any case, this couple requested that the walls be their artwork, since they had very few actual pieces. We used 15 colors in this 2 bedroom house. Some were sublte and some not so much. In the above picture  there are 7 colors.

A Study in Gold of a Golden Study

Above is another room in the same Mid-Century house. Alternating planes of color move you throughout the house, like walking inside a painting. I took very different design goals and applied them to similar architecture. I hope they are equally beautiful and inspiring to their inhabitants and seamlessly dovetail into who they are as people and personalities: again, I hope I have “disappeared.”


The large Tudor I was working on is finally done. Though I often gravitate towards dramatic changes (since you are going about the trouble to paint…), here the owner wanted a rejuvenating facelift: “Make it look younger!” she implored. I stayed close to the original colors in that I chose a beige and chocolate brown (PPC Beachwood and C2 Chocolate Therapy) however, the beauty and complexity of the color formulation, particularly the shimmery full spectrum Beachwood, made a huge difference in “lightening” the feel of such a large and erstwhile imposing home, gargoyles and all. We added some “dainty” details, too.

Living Large
Her Beloved Duck

Using Strong Exterior Color


3 Responses to “Recently Completed”

  1. Just learning how to blog and so all I had to say about this photo went into the ether, filed as html code.
    What I wanted to say was this: We chose a deep saturated green in order to absorb the strong sunlight in the neighborhood (cutting glare) while not washing out in same; evoke Nature on a block that is predominately concrete; transform a large and plain cinder block corner house with something wild; and to have fun. The tamarind purple archway is the exotic flower amidst the foliage.

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