If anyone other than my friend Amy Lindburg wanted to buy a Victorian two-flat in San Francisco in “almost original condition” with knob-and-tube electrical wiring and no central heat, I would have pointed out that the situation could easily become the sort of costly nightmare not seen since Mr. Blandings built his dream house.
But anyone who knows Amy knows she is extremely effective. And daring. She was a hardware engineer at Apple at a time when there were practically no female engineers anywhere. She’ll take her family on a two-week trip to eastern Europe without booking a hotel room until the day she arrives (and has never had any problems). When she says she is going to do anything—from playing the French horn in the local orchestra to shipping virtual computer environments ahead of schedule—you can consider it done.
So when Amy said she was going to buy a house in extreme vintage condition, remodel it, and live on the top floor with her three children, I had no doubt the project would be a huge success. (Wait until you see the kitchen on Remodelista.) Painting the facade the deepest, darkest shade of blue was a risk. Here’s how it turned out.
Photography by Daniel Dent for Gardenista, except where noted.
It seems obvious now, this elegant paint palette. But when Amy bought the house a little more than a year ago, the facade’s future was less clear…
The conventional wisdom is that if you want something to appear bigger, paint it a light color. But in this case, the off-white, two-story house looks diminished, almost as if it’s shrugging in defeat between its two taller neighbors.
Amy knew from the beginning that she wanted to paint the house dark—and blue is one of her favorite colors. But which blue was the right blue?
The problem with paint swatches? They all look alike.
Amy bought samples of each of the five blue paints so she could paint large swaths of color directly on the facade of the house.
It was clear to Amy that a single dark color for body and trim would would unify the facade and give it a stronger presence. She also decided to paint the building’s lower-level details—including the garage doors, entryway doors, front stairs, and fence—a glossy black to ground the house.
And the winner is … Polo Blue. Depending on the time of day and the ratio of sunlight to fog (this is San Francisco, after all), Amy’s house can appear to be nearly black, navy blue, or a deep jewel tone—as on the winter afternoon when this photo was shot.
To emphasize the rich tones of the paint palette, Amy added warm gold and brass accents: