Color Me Eclectic

Color Me Eclectic

On a recent sunny and magnificent day, I took a ride South, then West, first to see a Client, then to return to my studio in the western part of the City.

Little did I know what house color adventures awaited me during this relatively short excursion.  From  the middle class, to the well-to-do, to the downright funky,  the inhabitants of this variegated city never cease to amaze with their use of imaginative, and I must assume, highly personal  combinations and placement of color on their dwellings.

Here is a bit of my colorful, and oddly poetic romp, from the edge of nicely heeled Monterey Heights, to the Pacific reaches of the Sunset District’s outer Avenues.

Pale green and pinky red: not exactly Christmas

Across the street and down the road from my Client, who has resided in the same earthy gold stucco home for at least three decades, in a neighborhood of many more stucco. earth-toned  houses, I saw the above brightly hued structure, nearly vibrating in its complementary red and green intensity.  I noticed it also, because I expected to see it clad in it’s former strong yet earthy orange, (still quite noticeable in the neighborhood), next to the house pictured  below.  It has since been painted, but managed to avoid a Christmas glow, because of the paleness of the green, and pinky quality of the red.  Some might say that the placement of the paler color on the foundation’s garage door makes it feel ungrounded, but making such claims is not the purpose of this post.  You may draw your own conclusions.

Orange sherbert and Chocolate plum...vaguely gastronomic?

This house is the red and green home’s  direct neighbor on its left.  No slouch in the bright color department itself,  it no longer coordinates with its vibrant neighbor, and perhaps, fades into commonplace next to it.  However, it still stands out and reads as bold amidst the browns, ochres, golds and ivories that dominate the street.  Credit should be given where credit is due.

You could forget where you are....

Out of Monterey Heights, and away from the adjacent St. Francis Woods, one enters the world of the Outer Sunset Avenues,  punctuated by alphabetically named  streets which slope down to the blue Pacific.  Concentrated Asian populations, among others, reside in this area, their cultures reflected deliciously in colors and architectural details, as well as restaurant cuisine.  While gazing at the Church above,  framed by some of the few trees that grow out here, one could forget where one is for just a moment, and imagine being in other lands across the water.

Yellow ochre against jewel blue sky

Artists, musicians, and other creative types also live beach-side, and it is not completely unusual to see self-styled architectural additions, mural applications, faux finishes, textural surfaces, and decorative painting treatments like the one above, brightening up the often grey Avenue climes with strong color and whimsy.

One side of the street...

Driving West, I noticed that both sides of the street in a particular block had stretches of colorful houses directly facing each other.  Above, the shiny blue car adds a counterpoint to yellow,  green and red brick building fronts.

And the other side of the street...

Brightly colored cars would have been a distraction on this side of the street, and taken away from the yellow, green, ivory, mauve and blue house hues.  Happily, the homeowners complied with the concept of “variety within reason”, and maintained a balance of unity and complexity through their choice of dark gray automobile.  Thus, viewers and passers by, such as myself, were saved from the potentially negative effects of  overstimulation….

Backside View: weathered, poetic pastels...

Some might find the pale,weathered backsides of painted Avenue buildings understimulating, which could lead to restlessness and boredom in the viewer.  However, to me, these pastel-colored patinas,  slowly fading over time in the constantly shifting weather and light conditions of sun to fog, to rain, to sun again, contain a grave poetry . Perhaps they mirror the ultimately somber poetry of our lives: no matter how brightly we color the exterior, the facade will fade and crumple over time.  All is eventually claimed by nature. But what color we can create in the meantime, as we paint the portrait of our lives, reflected in our buildings, neighborhoods, cities and art!

If you have the time and the inclination, tell me what you think!  We are all in this thing called Life, together.

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18 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Great post! I love taking “color tours” like this. And makes me remember San Francisco fondly.

    • Hi Scott,
      Thank you for stopping by, and for your comment. When did you reside in SF? Are you currently a color consultant?

      All the best,

  2. I always enjoy cruising around looking at exterior color combinations. House colors are such a statement of who resides there. Sometimes I see something so phenomenal I am dying to meet the owners. Other times I’m just plain scared to find out who the occupants are! 🙂 thanks for sharing!

    • I agree Teresa…it is really fun, and fascinating to observe and respond to house colors.
      SF is such a colorful city, but sometimes the wildest colors and styles are found off the “beaten” track. Thanks for commenting!

  3. I agree with the idea that funky exterior colour palettes can be a very positive thing, if the colours are well chosen. I saw a home on Manitoulin Island (Ontario, Canada)that was very well done. A lot of different colours had been used. The effect was upbeat and eye catching, while just avoiding tackiness. The home owner has a home based business on the main street of the town and her location is well known due to the interesting colours. While not for everyone, it suits this homeowner to a “T”. I will post a photo on my Mulberry Interiors Facebook page.

    • Thank you for your comment! I am looking forward to seeing those photos. How did you find “Artissima”? Thank you for stopping by!

      • I found you through Linkedin on the Color Consultants group. I am new to Linkedin but have been in the design industry for 18 years. I have been to San Francisco several times, but not recently. I did attend the San Francisco Gift Show about 10 or 12 years ago. I bought a fabulous tapestry that was based on a painting done by a California artist (I no longer know the name of the artist). The subject was a scene from the Butchart gardens in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The tapestry was woven in India but the yarn colours were chosen in California .

  4. Thank you for the interesting comments, color folks! I look forward to further sharing and dialog as time goes on. All the best for this holiday Season, and the New Year!

  5. It’s so funny how everything heading east of SF turns progressively more beige! Even my kids notice this. Hurry for bold SF color!

    • Hi Marie! It IS fun…both the carefully planned “fancy” stuff, and the wild funky applications of the outer Aves, and many other neighborhoods. You can find this imagination and creativity all over…I do love much of the East Bay housing stock, (and the sunshine there!).
      Rachel Perls in HUE had an interesting post about a wildly colored home in Piedmont…did you read that one?
      Thanks for the comment Marie.
      Happy Holidays!

  6. Hi Debra, I’m so glad to learn about your blog from the IACCNA announcement today. I love it and have added it to the bloglist over at

    Thank you so much, Debra, I look forward to your posts.


    • Thank you EB! I will be happy to add yours to my blogroll when i have one! Still figuring all of this stuff out…with a little help from my friends, like you!
      I look forward to enjoying your blog.
      Best Wishes,

  7. […] The busiest day of the year was December 1st with 56 views. The most popular post that day was Color Me Eclectic. […]

  8. thrilled to find your blog! thanks for the kind mention in comments about my post on the crazy purple and orange house in Piedmont. these jewels are what give our neighborhoods their character, for sure 🙂

  9. It’s very exiting to find your web site. I don’t have much to add to the conversation, but I’m right here with you. This post said exactly what I have been thinking. Good to see you posting.

    • Thank you SpotLight, for your great comment! Nice to check email and find your post! I appreciate your time, and look forward to seeing your further postings. I would love to hear more of your nexus with color, as regards to lighting…as Color is Light! All the best and until the next!
      debra disman/Artissima

  10. […] The pastel colors of the buildings were muted further by the fog, softened, yet distinct.  I was struck by the difference in hue, yet similarity in value of a row of house colors which seemed to nest like colored Easter eggs, side by side. They reminded me of the “rear view” house colors I was moved to write about in a previous post. […]

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