17 April 2011

Exterior Color: Beauty on Broderick Street

this subtle paint scheme allows the details to shine
It is a magnificent building with substantial and wonderful architectural features. But when I first saw this house on Broderick Street in the NoPa neighborhood  of San Francisco's Western Addition, it had easily the most unflattering paint job on it I have ever seen:  dark brown trim cut the facade into squat proportions, intricate details imprisoned under layer upon layer of indifferently slopped-on paint.  Horrified, I mounted the stairs and rang the bell. You poor thing, I thought, who did this to you?

the unbearable "before" picture
The home's owners called me (not a minute too soon!) looking for a sophisticated, urban look.  They also wanted to show off the unique period features of the Edwardian architecture with its generous nod to the Beaux Arts style.

Broderick Street's elegant new facade
We chose a hazy, grey/green for the "base" color of the design. Most of this  color is used on the sides and back of the house.  On the facade itself, there is very little "base" as most of its surface area is actually "trim" - with massive brackets, prominent mouldings, and columns.  To make this look cohesive I limited the contrast between these two colors.  In addition, a slightly darker, celery color is employed around the windows, to help the columns stand out a bit more, and then we had a bit of fun by using a very current color of teal on the window sashes.

A bit of 23k gold leaf here and there makes all the difference!

Homeowner Gisela caught the gold bug after an on-site gilding lesson and tackled the gilding of details herself, following the few rules I gave her "gild anything round, sticking out, or just asking for it."  I think she showed admirable restraint!

shadows enliven the sculptural details

Though budget would not allow for a full restoration of the facade, we were at least able to restore its dignity, and give a fresh face to this grand lady.

Color design:  Lynne Rutter

Painting: Danny Massingale, San Francisco

paint:  Benjamin Moore

click on images to view larger. all photos in this post by Lynne Rutter


  1. Such a nicely-designed blog, Lynne, Always a pleasure to read. You are empress of visual literacy!

  2. Very elegant & sophisticated color selections. The house looks a million times better and I'm sure the homeowners are very proud! Another job very well done!- Erika

  3. Lynne, what a beautiful job! I won't be surprised if a host of neighbors catch the bug and other facades get updated, too. Beautiful!

  4. You poor thing, I thought, who did this to you? LOL! You are so funny! I am glad they have found you now. This is such a great example of the power of color and composition.

  5. I believe in subtile contrast and this is a beautifully executed example. Bravo!

  6. thanks all. what it might lack in boldness in makes up for with architecture. it's a very special and kind of rare look around here. the homeowner just sent me a link to a flickr account with more images here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gschmoll/sets/72157625274672884/show/
    you can see some close ups of the surface we were dealing with as well as some of sunnier aspects of the color.

  7. I LOVE it !!! Beautiful job! You have brought her soul back.

  8. I love this color combination. Do you have the names of the colors you used for the body and trim?

    1. Of course I do. But It is a custom color scheme designed for this house. The colors used here may not work at another location or with different architecture. .


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