Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Victorian money pits and the "Painted Ladies"

The Painted Ladies near Alamo Square, San Francisco

Oddly, the subject of Victorian architecture came up several times this past weekend.  Though beautiful, Victorians have always been just a tad fussy for my taste.   Nevertheless....

On Friday's Condé Nast Traveler blog, The World's Best Cities for Architecture Lovers, "... 14 cities—some iconic, others surprising— embody certain eras of architecture so much that they provide travelers with living, breathing (and free) design exhibits."  Some were predictable.  For instance, Miami's Historic District and South Beach have the largest collection of art deco architecture in the world.  Ok, I knew that one.  South Beach IS one of my favorite places. 

However, always amused by my own ignorance, the city listed as the the top spot for Victorian architecture was... Ditmus Park, Brooklyn, New York.  Brooklyn?  Really????  During my last visit to Brooklyn, I was cursing my friend, Josie, for dragging me to some flea market.  As for the Victorians.... nope.... didn't seem 'em. 

Victorians in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, NY

For me, the San Francisco Bay Area had always been associated with Victorian style because of those iconic Painted Ladies.   Always good to learn something new.

Later, Saturday evening on HGTV's Curb Appeal the Block, John Gidding was rehabilitating the façade of this San Francisco Victorian that had seen better days.  Photos online are scarce, but this one shows the attention to detail that only a true Victorian can display.

John Gidding Designs

And, come to think about it...... I've always wondered why the budget for Curb Appeal the Block was $20,000 per makeover in Atlanta, GA, but closer to $30,000 in San Francisco, CA.

Hmmmmm.  "Enquiring minds" want to know.

While doing a bit of research... I got bored and started looking through weekend photos on Facebook.  My friend, Michael - a great photographer - is summering in Maine.  He posted a photo of this beauty from a some sightseeing adventure.   
photo, Michael Broché

Absolutely stunning... but, I'd be willing to bet that it was a chore to paint.  That, of course, brings up the logical question:  What IS the cost of painting a Victorian?  

Oh.My.God.  They ARE a money pit! 

Before the grand tally, consider the following background information.  San Francisco Victorians will serve as our reference point.

1.  The Victorian Era refers to homes that were built between 1850 and 1920.

2.  The bulk of the San Francisco Victorians were created between 1870 and 1906.

3.  Big picture:  These buildings are OLD!  Because of the age of these structures, some exterior maintenance is always required before painting.  Rotting boards???

4.  Understanding color:  Classic Victorians can have as many as 11 different paint colors on their architectural details.  {Oh, Lord... it just gets worse.  Think of all of those trips to the paint store.  And, the paint swatches.} 

5.  They must be painted by hand due to the trimwork details and that pesky zero-lot-line issue in San Francisco.  Think about it:  If you decide to power (spray) paint your home and it is located only 2 feet from your neighbor's, you will be spray painting their house, too.  Just guessing, but that is probably a bad idea. 

6.  The painter's nightmare.  An average of 200-300 man hours are required to paint a 2,500 sq ft Victorian.

And, the grand total for this little paint job is.... about $15,000.  Oh, and did I mention, they need to be repainted every 7 to 10 years.  As a caveat, the interiors are also notoriously difficult to remodel.   

San Francisco Victorians

Ignorance WAS bliss!  Now that all of the facts are known, they are INDEED a beautiful money pit!  Wait.... that doesn't sound particularly PC.  Perhaps, a labor of expensive love would be more appropriate.

Regardless, I think that I'll continue to admire them............... from a distance.   

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