From the feel of the light and air to the first impression of your front door, every home has a style that says something about who lives there. What kind of statement do you want your home to make?
While we’ve met clients who will live in any home no matter the style as long as it has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a bedroom with a southern exposure, we’ve also met clients who will live in any home as long as it’s a perfect example of the mid-century modern or a built-by-the-book Victorian.
San Francisco is a relatively young city, with our oldest homes dating back to the 1850s. The first fifty years of our city’s development took place in the Victorian era, making it perhaps the style most easily associated with San Francisco. While we are certainly home to many Victorians, the architectural history and styles of our city didn’t stop with the end of the Victorian era.
From the more sedate Edwardians that followed to the elegance of Art Deco or the optimism of mid-century modern, San Francisco neighborhoods embrace a beautifully diverse range of architecture based on the general era of neighborhood construction.
To help you get a sense of these styles and where you’ll find them in San Francisco, we’ve built a curated set of homes grouped by architectural style. So whether you’re looking for the never-touched Eichler, an enchanting Victorian, a stately Edwardian or a fantastical glass and brick construct of the 1950s, we hope our curated style pages make your home search more enjoyable!
The oldest home style you’ll find in San Francisco is the Victorian home. And while there are many definitions and sub-genres with exceptions, flourishes, and loopholes, the general consensus is that if the home was built during the reign of Queen Victoria, it can lay claim to being a Victorian home.
Victorian home styles abound from Stick Victorians to Eastlake Victorians or Queen Anne Victorians, to name just a few. While the precise details vary depending on who you ask and how precise you wish to be, what you can expect in general is a whomped-up exterior with plenty of intricate details, angles, and asymmetrical facades with bay windows of some sort. Inside? The original layouts consisted of lots of tighty defined rooms with no (or very small) closets, high ceilings, and long hallways.
Queen Victoria reigned from 1837 to 1901. Alamo Square is perhaps the SF neighborhood most associated with homes of the Victorian style and era, but you’ll also find them in many of our “older” neighborhoods like The Castro, Noe Valley, Pacific Heights, and Nob Hill, to name just a few.
Victorian Inside or Out? While SF Planning makes sure that Victorian homes retain their historically charming exteriors, many interiors have been updated for modern life. What does that mean? It means that “Open-Plan” Victorian is not an oxymoron, and that it is possible to find homes that retain the Victorian style on the outside but have been gutted on the inside with a den of small rooms replaced by an open living-dining-kitchen floor plan.
We hope you’ll enjoy this curated collection of homes in the Victorian style.
Edwardian homes were built during the reign of King Edward VII, who lived for a much shorter period of time than Queen Victoria and was apparently far less interesting. Edwardian homes are known for their restrained and generally more symmetrical facades than their Victorian predecessors.
If Victorians were the party, Edwardians are the hang-over, a cycle of exuberance and restraint that repeats itself throughout the history of residential architecture. King Edward VII died in 1910, offering only a 9-year window of construction for the Edwardian era.
You’ll find Edwardians in the neighborhoods being built and imagined as the city rebuilt after the great quake of 1906. The Inner Sunset, Inner Richmond, Noe Valley, Glen Park, Bernal Heights and Cole Valley are all neighborhoods where you can find excellent examples of homes from the Edwardian era and style.
Because the Great Earthquake of 1906 destroyed many original city building records during the Edwardian era, it is not always 100% clear what was built, re-built, or re-built on paper during this period. In other words, is that a rebuilt Victorian or an Edwardian?
Here in San Francisco, the Spring Valley Water Company has a set of original water connection records that did survive the fires of 1906 and indicate when water service began at many homes (a good indicator that construction had just been completed).
We hope you’ll enjoy this curated collection of homes in the Edwardian style.
The 1910s to 1930s offered a mish-mash of styles and architectural ideas, with Art Deco being perhaps the most notable. In San Francisco, the 1920s also gave rise to the barrel-front Marina-style home, sometimes with Art Deco flourishes and sometimes without. The 1940s were all about World War II, and WWII’s contribution to SF housing stock was the “in-law” or “granny” flat, with the creation of lots of these homes during this period to accommodate the influx of wartime workers to SF.
The pent-up demand of the 1940s was met with the glorious optimism of the post-war 1950s, and California was at the forefront of that modern glow with our mid-century modern homes defining the suburban dream where every (white) family could afford a single-family detached home with a garage and their own car. Mid-century modern homes built in the 1950s and 1960s are known for their single-story layouts with garages featuring direct interior home access, open interior plans with bedrooms clustered together and hallways kept to a minimum, minimalist materials like brick and concrete, and extensive use of glass and sliding doors to create indoor-outdoor living experiences.
While Palm Springs, California, may have some of the most well-known mid-century homes, San Francisco neighborhoods have plenty to offer when it comes to mid-century modern homes. You can find mid-century modern homes in San Francisco neighborhoods built entirely or in part during these years such as Midtown Terrace, Miraloma Park, Twin Peaks, Noe Valley, Glen Park, and Bernal Heights. As with any era, an owner may have built or developed a home in this style in a neighborhood or area not traditionally associated with the style.
We hope you’ll enjoy this curated collection of homes in the mid-century modern style.