San Francisco’s remodel wars are actually a bit quieter these days than they used to be. Not because people are any less passionate about whether and how we should preserve classic houses, but simply because there have been so many other things to argue about.
Even so, battle lines remain pretty firm around the R-words–“renovate,” “remodel,” “redesign,” and in the most extreme cases, “rebuild.”
It’s true that these sorts of intense revamps can harm the overall diversity of SF housing stock, as interior remodels almost invariably end up resembling new-construction condos, often to the point that a 100-year-old SF home and a brand-new penthouse may look interchangeable as soon as you’re in the front door.
On the other hand, the numbers don’t lie: Renovated homes tend to sell for more, with the difference sometimes being a question of millions of dollars. And these sales are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for many: Even owners usually sympathetic toward preservationists may balk at leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) on the table.
Ultimately, it’s all in the eye of the beholder: Let’s take a handy neighborhood example in the form of 553 15th Avenue, a circa 1915 house that just came up for sale this week after five years and a pretty serious internal overhaul.
Previously, this Edwardian was three beds, two baths, about 2,300 square feet, and, critically, orange on the outside. The interiors emphasized A LOT of warm brown woodwork in virtually every room. We’re borrowing some photos from the old listing for illustrative purposes:
After selling for $2 million in 2017, the owners took out and completed eight different building permits, resulting in a home that is larger (three beds, four baths, and 4,000 square feet) and, critically listing for just about double the last sale at just under $4 million.
But it’s the interiors we’re really interested in: Rather than the stock all-white look with open floor plan flowing in every direction, this place is much more colorful than we might expect–they even sprang for wallpaper in the dining room.
Nevertheless, it is a stark departure–most of that woodwork is a thing of the past, for one thing. The question is: What do you think? Is this a timely update? Or would we all be better of culturally if people left well enough alone when it comes to classic homes? And for that matter, does anyone on 15th Avenue miss that old orange color? Let us know below.
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