The 1904 mansion at 2698 Pacific Ave. had 11,000 square feet, an architectural pedigree, a location right off "Billionaire's Row" in Pacific Heights, a massive seismic upgrade and a studs-out renovation of all four floors, but it still took the work of more than two dozen well-respected local designers to catch the attention of its current owners.
In 2017, the home was selected for the SF Decorator's Showcase, a nationally recognized annual interior design event and fundraiser for the financial aid program of San Francisco University High School.
“The location has been on our radar for years, but the construction was never quite far enough along for our timeline,” SFUHS Senior Associate Director of Development Kate Gorrissen told the Nob Hill Gazette at the time. “This year it finally worked out — just in time to celebrate our 40th anniversary!
The current owners bought their $35 tickets to the showcase just like everyone else that spring. By the fall they had purchased the property for $16 million. "The wife, who is a fan of design herself, became enamored by what she saw during the showcase," said the owners' agent Herman Chan. "The stylized decor against the background of a traditional mansion was marvelous."
In fact, Chan said the original architects, a father-and-son team known as Newsom and Newsom, really created the traditional aesthetic Pacific Heights is known for: "grand, opulent, an excess of details." The white marble portico entry is certainly all of the above, and was one of the few spots that remained untouched during the showcase, though Jarrod Baumann of Zeterre Landscape Architecture did create a sculpted front garden.
Some of the standout rooms inside the eight-bedroom home include a very green and spring-like living room inspired by the salon of designer Hubert de Givenchy, of the great French fashion house, as well as his muse Audrey Hepburn. It was created by Jonathan Rachman Design. Jon De La Cruz brought a more utilitarian palette to the kitchen, whose black, white and grey look was subsequently honored as House Beautiful's Kitchen of the Year. Chan says he is biased towards the "penthouse living lounge" that opens to a view patio both because of its West Coast vibe and the fact that its designer, Catherine Kwong, went to his high school in Fremont.
That room's decor was centered around a slab walnut coffee table with raw edges, which has since been replaced, though the velvet couches Kwong installed remain. Throughout the home, there is a mix of what existed during the showcase and some newer items, and Chan says for the right price all the furnishings could be included in the sale. He said the owners wanted to move to Southern California and closed on a new home in Newport Beach in mid-October. Even though they still love the property, which also features a seven-vehicle motor court and six full bathrooms, it's time to move on. "It's been a lovely pied a terre and now it's time for someone else to enjoy it," he said.
Kwong and co-listing agent Joy Rong recently listed the home for $26.8 million and said within a day of being on the market they already received two requests for private tours. "The property received such glowing exposure from the Decorator Showcase," said Kwong, who pointed out that the 2019 Showcase home is currently listed at a similar price point. "It is a perfect amalgamation of old-world charm of a bygone époque with a twist of eclectic chic modernity."