Robin Williams & The Mrs. Doubtfire House

The surprising and saddening news of Robin Williams’ suicide earlier this week has reverberated through the bay area. Robin Williams lived in the north bay, and was often spotted in San Francisco. SFGate had an article yesterday about the Mrs. Doubtfire home and how it has become a sort of shrine over the past several days.

As you can see in the video above, a normally non-remarkable intersection in Pacific Heights has become a rather sad and sedate but bustling corner of activity. The owner of the home, Douglas Ousterhout, is a Robin Williams fan and has a great attitude toward his home becoming a memorial site to Robin Williams. But what if the owner didn’t have such a good attitude about it all?

Mrs. Doubtfire was a 1993 movie, and Douglas Ousterhout has owned the property since 1997. There are two previous MLS listings from 1993 and 1994, both of which were withdrawn/expired without a sale. One listing notes that the property was the home of “Sophie Julien for 50 years” and the other notes that it was a “‘location’ Shoot For Fox Film, ‘mrs. Doubtfire’ Starring Robin Williams!” 

What if the owner hadn’t been informed of the home’s use in a famous movie? Does the current owner have a duty to disclose this to future residents, particularly since  fans may now show up on a regular basis to remember or pay tribute to an incredible comedian?

Robin Williams’ suicide has brought depression and mental health into the spotlight, and there have been many conversations this week about how we can support those struggling with depression or a mental illness. Most of them, fortunately, are much more thoughtful than the stupid and thoughtless lines spewed by Rush Limbaugh. While they are a minor footnote to the bigger questions being raised, his death also points out some interesting questions for property owners as well.

2013 Decorator Showcase at 2800 Pacific Ave.

Yesterday evening Zephyr hosted a private party at the San Francisco Decorator’s Showcase 2013 home. The home is in Pacific Heights at 2800 Pacific Ave. You can see us in the photo below at the entrance on Pacific Avenue. The home is on a corner lot at Pacific Ave. & Divisadero.

Curious about what to wear to a designer showcase? The popular answer last night was “black!”

Here we are, ready to decorate!

Important Disclaimer: 2800 Pacific Ave. is currently for sale. We are not the listing agents for the property, it is listed by Patricia Lawton with Alain Pinel. Any mention of the house is incidental to our experience of this year’s decorator showcase. If you are interested in the home and don’t have an agent, we are certainly happy to chat with you.

The view towards the bay from 2800 Pacific Ave.

If you aren’t familiar with the designer showcase, it is a fundraiser for tuition support at University High. They divvy up the house – each decorator gets a room, and every decorator then goes wild. Depending on your perspective, the results are either cacophonous or inspiring.

My favorite rooms were the bathrooms on the second floor. The master bathroom has an awesome living wall that is behind the bathtub and an absolutely gorgeous shower. The elysium guest bathroom off of the “teenager’s bedroom” was also a personal favorite. Bonus points go to the designer – Alfredo Gregory – for once being a Zephyr agent! The tiles were custom-made, as was the water closet. It’s a very sweet bathroom!

Honorable mention goes to the 1/2 bath on the main floor. I liked the materials and give it bonus points for removing the bathroom door! (although in fairness to this 1/2 bath, many of the doors in the home have been removed for the showcase. It just helps with traffic flow. A lot.)

I also loved the “spa” concept on the top floor, as you can see from the above picture the home has a pretty amazing view from the top floor rooms and roof deck.

The decorator showcase is open through May 27 of this month. If you haven’t attended and are looking for some design inspiration, we highly recommend it!


Hello Golden Gate Fog

Last Saturday morning I found myself in The Presidio. Not in a kidnapped and wake-up-in-a-strange-place-kind-of-way but more along the lines of the pretty domestic and boring. As in: I need some clean clothes tonight so I’m picking up my clean clothes from the most awesome dry cleaner in all of San Francisco.

While I was looking for the dry cleaners (nothing is quite as much fun as navigating construction detours in The Presidio), I happened upon this awesome shot of the fog melting away beneath the Golden Gate bridge.

The fog sneaks out underneath the Golden Gate bridge
The fog sneaks out underneath the Golden Gate bridge (click to enlarge)

If you’ve ever wondered why people will pay millions of dollars for a home in Pacific Heights, the above photo will hopefully answer the question for you. And if it doesn’t, I’ll offer you a hint: The homes in Pacific Heights that have Golden Gate Bridge views have everything awesome in this photo, and none of the construction fencing or other heavy equipment.

San Francisco is an incredibly gorgeous city to live, work, and play in. When talking about how expensive it is to live in San Francisco, I often find myself joking about the “culture tax.” I define it as the premium we pay to live and work in San Francisco, one of the world’s most awesome cities. It’s awesome because 1) it is filled with sharp and interesting people and 2) it is one of the world’s most beautiful cities and 3) because I said so! Although I guess I could also rename it to the “beauty tax” given what a gorgeous city San Francisco is to live in.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the picture of the fog slowly creeping back to the Pacific Ocean underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. I also hope you enjoyed your Saturday, mine was excellent!


Lombard St: Cow Hollow or Marina?

Boundaries are arbitrary, but does it make sense for two different sides of the same street to belong to different neighborhoods?

District 7 SFAR Map
District 7 SFAR Map

For example, in District 7 of San Francisco, there are four neighborhoods (according to SFAR):

The north/south diving line between The Marina and Cow Hollow is Lombard St., which makes perfect sense. Does it make sense, though, that homes on the north side of Lombard are in the Marina while homes on the south side are in Cow Hollow? Given what a busy street Lombard is, I kind of have to agree with the boundary.

What about the north/south dividing line between Cow Hollow and Pacific Heights, though? The north/south boundary between the two neighborhoods is Green St., which means that homes on the north side of Green St. have a Cow Hollow MLS designation, while homes on the south side of the street have a Pacific Heights designation in the MLS. This one seems a little less obvious to me, since Green St. isn’t a particularly busy or commercial St. (that would belong to Union St., one to the north).

California St.
California St. serves as the north/south boundary between Pacific Heights (District 7) and Lower Pacific Heights (District 6). However, when the boundary line was drawn they (they being SFAR) put both sides of California St. in Pacific Heights, which means on the south side of the street the boundary runs along the fences in the backyard, not the street out front.

However, as soon as we get west of Presidio St., the north/south boundary goes back to the front side of California St., with homes on the north side belonging to Presidio Heights and homes on the south side belonging to Laurel Village/Jordan Park.

Clear as mud, right?

What are your thoughts about the SFAR map boundaries? I’ve only highlighted a few neighborhoods, but the list could go on and on…

Divisadero Street – from Zero to Infinity

One of the things I love about San Francisco neighborhoods are how wildly they vary. Say what you will about San Francisco, our neighborhoods each have a unique character, charm, and style. And while The Marina might feel like it is a thousand miles away from the Western Addition, they both have Divisadero Street in common. I’ve been wanting to drive some San Francisco streets from start to finish (or finish to start) to give you a sense of how much things can change along one street in just a few blocks.

This morning I tackled Divisadero Street, which starts in the Buena Vista/Ashbury Heights neighborhood – that’s district 5F if you are playing along at home with a SFAR MLS map – and ends at Marina Boulevard in the Marina District.


Divisadero Street runs through or touches the border of all of the following neighborhoods (I’m going to go in the order you see in the video, which actually starts at the end of Divisadero and works back to the zero block). If you are curious about learning more about any of the neighborhoods, follow the link, I’ve made videos for many (but not all) of them:

I really enjoyed making this first video of a street in San Francisco from start to finish. What other streets would you be interested in seeing from beginning to end? I’ve definitely got Folsom street on the list, but I’m sure there are plenty of other streets that would make for a fun video. I hope you enjoy watching the video, feel free to leave your comments, critiques, and suggestions below.

Do these Light Fixtures Look Familiar?

A few weeks back I wrote about the North End Police Station at 2475 Greenwich. It was the police station built for the Panama Pacific International Exposition that was eventually turned into a private residence. The building is considered to be an exceptional example of  Spanish Colonial Revival Architecture. One of the most notable items (to me, at least) on that building are the spiky lanterns that adorn the building on either side of the main entrance doors.

Spiky Lantern at 2150 Washington in Pacific Heights

 A few weeks after taking those pictures, I was taking some pictues of the AppleGarth designed Speckels mansion in the 2100 block of Washington when I happened upon some more… spiky lanterns!

2475 Greenwich was designed by Frederick H. Meyer and John Reid, Jr., while 2150 Washington was designed by Charles Peter Weeks, a San Francisco architect that designed numerous buildings of note, including this Pacific Heights home. Weeks designed the home for Mary Phelan, the sister of legendary San Francisco Mayor James Phelan.

Spiky Lantern at 2150 Washington

According to current tax records, the spiky lanterns at 2150 Washington are currently owned by the Dharma Realm Buddhist Assn Inc. The tax records also report that the home has eight bedrooms, and 10 full bathrooms with a total square footage of 16,506 square feet. There is no mention of 2150 Washington on the association’s website, although the organization is headquartered in nearby Burlingame, CA.

Hmmmm…. a religious organization with a quirky name and a mansion. Nothing could ever go wrong with a setup like that, right?

Anyway, hope you enjoy the two pics. If you’ve got other great pictures of spiky lanterns, spanish colonial revival architecture, or scoop about the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, be sure to leave a comment below.