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San Fran ‘Painted Lady’ Gets Pixel Paint Job

TUESDAY, MAY 21, 2024

One of San Francisco’s iconic “Painted Ladies” has now been dubbed by neighbors as the “Tetris House,” after its original soft green shade has been painted over with neon pixels.

The project was completed by artist Xavi Penneton after the homeowners hired him to “go full mural” and to be “bold and fearless with color,” he said.

Work began on the “real artistic, creative statement” design about a year ago. According to reports, each color in the palette was custom created for the project. This process reportedly involved two days of mixing, testing and remixing.

Afterwards, Panneton and a small team of assistants painted the house, which he described as “really hard” due to the house’s angles.

Panneton pointed out that his design works with the house’s architecture, not against it: the blocks of color fit neatly within its wooden slats, and a dark blue trim runs along the house’s edges, windows and railings, grounding the design’s strips of bright color. He also described it as “minimalist design theory but in a maximalist way.”

“I don't think of it in that whimsical of terms,” he added of the “Tetris house” nickname.

“I take it really seriously as a designer when I’m doing something where you have to respect the architecture,” he said. “It’s about trying to put as much thought and care into the design so that it’s an honorable design, while being radical at the same time. And, you know, San Francisco does have a radical side.”

The design has reportedly even impressed traditionalists like Bob Buckter, also known as Dr. Color, who has designed the color schemes for more than 17,000 San Francisco homes.

“This is a one-off, one-of-a-kinder, stand out, rare bird,” Buckter told SFGATE. “There’s nothing else around anywhere close to it.”

The house has reportedly gone viral, as a photo of the house posted by Panneton has collected almost 15,000 likes as of May 20.

“Most people liked it,” he said. “And occasionally we would hear a person walk by who didn’t like it, but those were few and far between.”

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About the ‘Painted Ladies’

Also known as “Postcard Row” or the “Seven Sisters,” the “Painted Ladies of San Francisco” are a row of colorful Victorian, Queen Anne-style houses located on Steiner Street in San Francisco. This style of rowhouses were built beginning in the 1860s and were traditionally painted a “chalky” white to disguise the redwood structure and resemble stone.

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However, while many structures were destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, houses like these survived in the western and southern neighborhoods of the city.

Artist Butch Kardum and a team of “colourists” reportedly began experimenting with brighter colors, such as lime, vermillion, gold and turquoise, on the façades in 1963. Dunn-Edwards explains that this movement then changed entire streets and neighborhood.

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The Steiner Street homes have appeared in over 70 movies, television programs and ads, most notably in the opening credits of the series Full House.

The exterior features on these structures include:

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  • An asymmetrical façade with a dominant top front-facing gable, cantilevered out over the plane of the wall below;
  • Overhanging eaves and detailed bracket;
  • Round, dominant corner tower;
  • Gingerbread style gables;
  • A small porch covering the primary entrance area;
  • Differing wall textures, including patterned wood shingles shaped into varying designs;
  • Painted classical columns, spindles and balustrades;
  • Cutaway bay windows; and
  • Intricate stain-glass paneling.

Dunn-Edwards noted at the time that each of the homes feature a polychromal color treatment in varying shades of purple, red, yellow, blue and green. The vibrant, pastel colors aimed to accentuate the asymmetrical facade layout, as well as highlight the patterns and textures created by the machine cut-outs.


Tagged categories: Aesthetics; Architecture; Artists; Building facades; Color; Color + Design; Color + Design; Completed projects; Design; Design - Commercial; Exterior painting; Historic Preservation; Historic Structures; Murals; Murals; Program/Project Management; Projects - Commercial; Residential


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