JUST LISTED I Idyllic Ross Opportunity

45 Poplar Avenue, Ross

First Time on the Market in 100 Years!
Offered at $1,395,000

A unique opportunity to build your dream home steps from downtown Ross. The property is coming to market for the first time in over 100 years.  Situated on a large flat lot, the current residence offers the chance to enlist a design/build team to create the ideal central Ross home.  Ross Park and the town’s biking/walking path and tennis courts can be directly accessed from a private gate at the rear of the property. Create a slice of Marin just for you! 

Appointment only.

  • Large flat lot: 9300 Square Feet along tree lined street
  • Private gate access to bike path and tennis courts
  • Steps to the award winning Ross K-8 School District 
  • Downtown Ross features a general store, coffee shop, restaurants, bike shop and more. Locals gather for a quick chat at the Post Office
  • Seasonal Farmers Market
  • Easy access to some of the best hiking/biking trails in Marin and Phoenix Lake

Lot size: 9,300 per Realist-Corelogic (not verified by agent or seller)
Please note: I have not verified any information contained within documents that were prepared by others. Buyer to independently verify.


Please fill out the form to receive more information.

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SOLD: Inner Richmond Hidden Treasure!

A detached house in San Francisco! Completely remodeled three bedroom, two and half bath hidden treasure tucked away from the bustle of city life.

My client immediately fell in love with this home and I am absolutely thrilled that we stood out in a very competitive situation. Quick thinking and strong negotiation skills allowed my client to have her dream home!!

Buyer Represented - $1,975,000

Need help finding your perfect home or are you ready to sell? Call me so we can get started. 415.450.8465

Four Spirits and a Sunny Victorian

Atherton Mansion at 1990 California Street

1990 California Street  Pacific Heights

1990 California Street Pacific Heights

In 1860, Atherton moved to California. One of his numerous real estate purchases was his estate in San Mateo County, which he called Valparaiso Park. The land now forms much of present-day Atherton. Atherton married Dominga de Goñi, daughter of a prominent Chileno family. They had seven children, among them George H. Bowen, who later married Gertrude Franklin Horn, one of California's most important authors.

Atherton was a notorious womanizer and traveled often. This alienated his wife and family. His wife, Dominga de Goñi, was forced to take charge of the estate and found she much enjoyed the power she wielded. This was unfortunate for their son George, as he often bore the brunt of his mother's dominance.

After Atherton's death, Dominga de Goñi left Fair Oaks (later known as Atherton) and moved into the city. She built the Atherton Mansion at 1990 California on the corner of Octavia and California streets in the exclusive Pacific Heights district in 1881. Dominga de Goñi lived there with her son George and his strong willed wife Gertrude. George was somewhat of an embarrassment to the socially prominent Athertons, and the two strong-willed women with whom he lived constantly called his manhood into question.

In 1887, George found his living situation unbearable and he accepted an invitation to sail to Chile. Ostensibly he was going to visit friends, but in actuality he sought to prove his mettle and earn a place of honor in his family much like his father before him.

The trip proved to be his undoing. George Atherton developed kidney problems during the voyage and died. The ship's captain preserved George's remains by storing the body in a barrel of rum, which was shipped back to the Atherton household several weeks later. However, there was no indication that the cask contained anything more than rum and when it was opened by the Atherton's butler there was quite a stir caused by the sight of his former master.

The ship’s captain preserved George’s remains by storing the body in a barrel of rum, which was shipped back to the Atherton household several weeks later.

George's body was dried out and buried, but shortly thereafter, his spirit apparently decided to avenge itself on the women who'd tormented him in life. Dominga de Goñi and Gertrude reported being awakened at night by knocks at their bedroom doors and by a cold and disturbing presence. The phenomenon grew so troublesome that Dominga de Goñi sold the mansion and moved out. Subsequent tenants also have been unsettled by phantom knockings and roaming cold spots. None stayed very long.

That is until 1923, when the property was purchased by an eccentric Carrie Rousseau. She lived exclusively in the house's ball room surrounded by more than 50 cats until her death in 1974 at the age of 93. Since then the mansion has been remodeled into several apartments. However, the manifestations still occur. Residents report moving cold spots, wind blowing through closed rooms, voices in the night, and knocking sounds.

A séance conducted by Sylvia Brown identified several spirits active in the house. Three were female spirits, "who just don't like men," and a "frail" male spirit. She believes the home is still haunted by the ghosts of Dominga de Goñi, George, and Gertrude Atherton, and Carrie Rousseau.

1990 California Ball Room

NEW LISTING: Marina Private Garden Condo

Walk to everything! A+ Location!
Offered at $825,000

Built in 1993, this attractive 1 bed and 1 bath condominium is located in the heart of the vibrant and sought after Marina district. Accessed through an exclusive foyer or directly from a private garage, this garden condominium offers a tranquil place to come home amidst the bustle of city living. This open plan unit is enhanced by hardwood floors, new carpeting, and a convenient kitchen for entertaining. A spacious bedroom and double vanity bathroom offer comfortable living in this quintessential Marina home. The serene garden and patio are perfect for relaxing and has ample space for an outdoor BBQ.  

The Palace of Fine Arts and Marina Green are just two short blocks for outdoor recreation.  The fashionable boutiques and restaurants of Chestnut Street are just steps away.  Convenient access to public transportation and the Golden Gate Bridge make this the perfect location for work and play.  


  • 1 Bedroom & 1 Bath
  • Private garage with extra storage space
  • Private entrance
  • Serene garden
  • Jacuzzi tub
  • Intercom
  • New lighting
  • In unit washer/dryer
  • Office nook
  • Large closets
  • Professionally managed building

Marina District

This hip area of the city is a veritable mecca for young professionals enjoying their initial years out of college, young families and long time residents who have called the Marina their home for decades. Marina real estate enjoys access to excellent shopping and cafes along Chestnut Street, making Marina the ideal place to enjoy a lazy Sunday afternoon. More active residents can head to the Marina Green, a large stretch of grass along the water, popular with runners and latte-sipping dog walkers. The Marina is also home to the popular Palace of Fine Arts, a popular and educational tourist destination.

The Neighborhood



For more information, please call Stacey Caen at 415.450.8465 or fill out the form below. Thank you!

Name *

SOLD: Breathtaking Bridge View!

Drop dead Bay Bridge views take center stage in this beautiful two bedroom two bath condo at The Harrison. Designer Ken Fulk chose a neutral palette to help showcase the breathtaking views while using top quality materials.

My clients started their year off with a New Year's Eve party and enjoyed the amazing fireworks. They are absolutely thrilled with their new home.

Buyer Represented - $2,264,000

Need help finding your perfect home? Call me so we can get started. 415.450.8465

SOLD: Perfection in Noe Valley

Beloved Noe Valley Four Bedroom Home

Buyer Represented: $2,225,000

"Stacey is the best. She was knowledgeable and savvy throughout the whole process. It was my first time buying a house - she listened to my needs and found me the perfect place. I would highly recommend her to anyone looking for a place in the city."


Telegraph Hill City View Stunner!


Glorious modern 2 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 car parking unit in prime Telegragh Hill location. Be wowed by the city views including Saints Peter and Paul Church from the living room and porch. The main level has great natural light and offers an open floor plan ideal for entertaining, including a gourmet kitchen, living room with gas fireplace, formal dining room and large full bath. Downstairs you will find a large pre-wired media room/office/family room, second bedroom, full bath and laundry closet. Wired for sound, lovely front porch, and large beautifully maintained shared garden complete this unit. Coveted location with close proximity to North Beach shops, restaurants and Washington Square.


  • Sirkin TIC agreement in well-funded 6 unit building
  • Rebuilt building in 2008 with seismic upgrades, all new systems (electrical and plumbing) Double-paned windows
  • Fantastic city views
  • In-unit laundry
  • Approximately 1,680 sq.ft. per survey
  • Lots of closet space and private additional storage
  • Wired for sound
  • 2 car tandem parking in garage
  • Walkscore 98: Walkers paradise I Transit score 93: Riders paradise
  • HOA dues: $344.
  • Pet Friendly


SOLD: Outer Richmond Beach Beauty

771 41st Avenue

Sometimes it takes patience!!

Stacey was an absolute pleasure to work with in obtaining our new home.  She stuck with us for the long haul as we were searching for a home in a competitive neighborhood and price range.  We found her to be attentive, thorough, responsive, persistent and compassionate throughout our search efforts.  She went the extra mile several times and her efforts and commitment to us landed us a house even dreamier than we ever anticipated. Our purchase was a nerve-racking process for me and Stacey was there to talk me through it at each point.  She made it clear that we were a priority for her, that she was there for us as a resource and advocate and that she had our best interests at heart. Additionally she offered invaluable help to us during our moving process, which was truly above and beyond the call of duty. We’re so grateful to Stacey and so happy in our new home. She is a gem of a person and an excellent professional in her field. --- Liz and Jeremy

Coffee Dan's - Open all Night

“There will be dancing to the tinkle of a piano; there will be songs and it will never, never close, not even for fire!

No one should forget San Francisco’s riotous Coffee Dan’s. The original club opened in 1879 as a cabaret located in the basement below Daniel Davis’ restaurant on the southeast corner of Sutter and Kearny. After the earthquake and fire of 1906, Dan moved his club to Powell and O’Farrell Streets. Like its predecessor, it opened for breakfast, serving customers long past dinner with entertainers that belied the apparent low station of the café. Posh city magazine The Wasp proclaimed Coffee Dan’s the rendezvous for San Francisco’s elite in their May 20, 1916 issue.

Coffee Dan's O'Farrell Street
Coffee   Dan

Coffee Dan

Dan died in 1917 and son John Davis took over management. It was Prohibition and Coffee Dan’s was now a “ham & egger.” Ham & egger was code for a speakeasy, and Dan’s sold more ham and eggs than anyone in the city. Access was via a slide down to the basement level at the first location. Ladies with skirts and dresses soon learned of the slide’s pitfalls, requiring that special Coffee Dan’s grip. Some used the stairs made available for the less adventuresome.

The nighttime entertainment was great jazz, offering far more than just good liquor. Frank Shaw performed at Coffee Dan’s. The club also featured John Davis’ wife, Ruby Adams, an incomparable jazz singer. Small wooden mallets were provided for applause, and the tables took a beating. The dishware was cheap and breaking dishes signaled the highest level of appreciation. Calling for service also required rapping on the table with a mallet or dish. Hold your coffee cup below table level, and a waiter would fill it from his hip flask.

Dan’s gained international fame when featured in 1927’s early talkie, The Jazz Singer with Al Jolson. Frank Shaw recording of A Night at Coffee Dan’s in 1928, captured the spirit of the club.

Leveraging off the fame, Davis opened Coffee Dan’s houses in Los Angeles and aimed for New York, Detroit and Cleveland. San Francisco’s Coffee Dan’s relocated to the famous 430 Mason Street address, just off Geary and below the Cable Car Theatre in 1932 after Davis lost his lease. All remained as it was: slide, hammers and entertainment.

The club went legitimate after the repeal of prohibition but retained the fun and nighttime entertainment. It still claimed the title as the noisiest joint in the city throughout its existence and was a favorite of sailors in WWII. Coffee Dan’s remained open through the 1950s, and then slipped away with minimal clatter.

Today, the club at 430 Mason is known as Slide, a modern day speakeasy that celebrates its predecessor at that location.





When work morphs with life, you need to grab your own perks. This stunning 1430 sq. ft. loft style two bedroom, two bath luxury apartment is airy and sleek with clean lines and artisan finishes and 9 1/2 foot high ceilings! Exclusive SKYVUE lounge access, upgraded interior finishes, energy efficient including dual-pane windows, private balcony, city and bay views. Easy access to downtown, CalTrain, freeways and SFO. A MUST SEE!!


  • Spacious master suite with plush carpeting and custom closet systems
  • Upgraded stainless-steel kitchen appliance package
  • Luxe bathrooms one with dual vanity sinks; ceramic tile flooring and tub surrounds
  • In home laundry room with full-size washers and dryers
  • State-of the-art keyless front door entry
  • Designated parking for an additional $350.00
  • Deposit only $1,000.00



TOP NOTCH building amenities that include:

FIRM, BURN, BALANCE - a three-level fitness experience

AIRE - open air pool and outdoor area to take advantage of the sunniest part of the city

iLINK - a business center that's fully wired and designed for productivity

CONFERENCE - a conference room for business meetings and social gatherings

THE HUB, STADIUM, VUE, ENTERTAIN - three view lounges with kitchens, dining and casual seating

CONNECT - a media theater perfect for big sports events and movie nights

PUPPY LOVE - a dog washing station

PANACHE - exclusive to you and the residents on the top floor feature upgraded finishes, spectacular views and an exclusive SKYVUE lounge

Contact: Stacey Caen for more information
Sotheby's International Realty


3 Bedroom 3.5 Bath - $17,125 PER MONTH

Welcome home to your amazing 3 bedroom 3.5 bath 2,220 sq. ft. luxury penthouse with stunning Bay Bridge, waterfront and harbor views. PH1 at 399 Fremont exemplifies luxury living with the finest finishes, fixtures and design.

Upon entrance into your impressive foyer, you will immediately feel at home and know that you have entered into a special place. You will be engaged as you enter the light filled living room that showcases the breathtaking views through floor to ceiling ventilated windows.

The European style kitchen is equipped with a Thermador refrigerator, 5 burner gas range stove, microwave and dishwasher. A Uline wine cooler, Snaidero cabinetry and quartz counter tops. The kitchen has dual access to the living room and dining room for the ultimate entertaining experience.

The spacious master bedroom has jaw dropping Bay Bridge Views, lush carpet and his and her custom-built walk in closets. The Master Bath is beautifully designed with a dual vessel vanity sink and large soaking tub. The additional two bedrooms have on-suite bathrooms, ample closet space and the same amazing views. Designed for your comfort you have individually controlled heating and air conditioning controls and a full size LG washer and dryer.

The hallways, kitchen, living room and dining room all have beautiful Kember walnut hardwood floors and this beautiful Southeast home comes with two balconies to display the twinkling Bay Bridge view at night.

Penthouse Benefits

  • Dedicated concierge phone line for penthouse residents
  • Complimentary daily newspaper delivered to your door
  • In-home package and dry cleaning delivery
  • Weekly light housekeeping
  • Complimentary wine storage
  • Immediate complimentary access to 1GB of high-speed internet
  • Restricted floor access
  • Penthouse only access to private swim time
  • Unlimited access to Sky View Lounge when not reserved for private events
  • Invitation to 399 Club events
  • Priority reservations and discounted fees for private Sky View Lounge use
  • Usage of the 399 guest suite for four nights per year free of charge
  • First access bookings to future dates for 399 guest suite and amenity spaces

399 Fremont Amenities

  • 25,000 square feet of spacious splendor
  • Picturesque 5th floor veranda
  • Fully equipped outdoor kitchen with gas grilles
  • A full size lap pool and whirlpool spa
  • Expansive entertainment areas including Cabana Lounge
  • Multiple state-of-the art conference rooms
  • A complete catering kitchen along with private dining room and on-site wine storage
  • World-class health and wellness features which include state-of-the-art fitness center, yoga studio, spin/on-demand exercise room, massage/mani/pedi room and childcare room.
  • Commissioned art pieces by world renowned artists
  • Professionally trained full service concierge available 24/7
  • Pet friendly atmosphere and dog park
  • Fleet of custom Public bicycles handmade in San Francisco and exclusive to 399 Fremont, our Concierge Service will meet you in our lobby when you are ready to hit the road.


2 Bedroom - $13,530
2 Bedroom + Den - $14,905
3 Bedroom - $15,955

Contact: Stacey Caen for more information
Sotheby's International Realty

399 Fremont Street is a brand new, distinctive 42-story property offers a best-in-class combination of features, including sweeping views, luxurious finishes spacious residences and more than an abundance of upscale amenities. Sophistication-meets-sustainability with design, art and lifestyle amenities created specifically for the discerning urban dweller in San Francisco's new vibrant center. This LEED Silver-certified building is within walking distance of many attractions, shopping and transportation options.

SOLD: Elegant 1920's Condo

609 22nd Avenue

609 22nd Avenue

From TIC to Condo to SOLD!!!!

“As a first time home buyer, Stacey gave me the extra attention and support I needed throughout the whole process. She was thorough, knowledgeable, and patient. While I got very lucky with my property, it was a complicated one and Stacey’s perseverance and positivity got us through all the ups and downs. I would absolutely recommend working with Stacey, she will give it her all! ” --- Stephanie Tang


Anchored by the exceptional 2015 renovation of Dolores Park and neighboring San Francisco's oldest intact structure, Mission Dolores Chapel, this protected enclave offers residents a genteel lifestyle perched above the current gentrification pulse of the Inner Mission.

The context of Dolores Heights, like the context of the city as a whole, is a tapestry that only grows more intriguing as new elements are added to the weave.  The steep, 400-foot hill itself is more of a definition rather than a destination, framing Noe Valley to the south, Dolores Park to the east and the Castro to the west. From afar it's a rustle of walls and rooflines, green trees and straight asphalt. Many streets within Dolores Heights are dead-end cul-de-sacs connected by steep staircases with beautiful views. Ed Hardy, a resident and renowned antique dealer, happily notes that Dolores Heights remains "relatively warm, sunny and fog-free by virtue of Twin Peaks blocking the strong winds and fog found almost year-round in San Francisco."

Award Winning  Dolores Heights Residence

Award Winning Dolores Heights Residence

"Today this affluent and tranquil neighborhood is mixture of Victorians, apartment buildings, and detached houses gently rolling down the hill to the recently renovated 13.7 acre Dolores Park that serves as the hub of neighborhood activity and leisure."

The Sky house  Liberty Street

The Sky house Liberty Street

Dolores Heights  Special Use District

Dolores Heights Special Use District

Today this affluent and tranquil neighborhood is a mixture of Victorians, apartment buildings, and detached houses gently rolling down the hill to the recently renovated 13.7 acre Dolores Park that serves as the hub of neighborhood activity and leisure.  But that was not always the case as "residents of the hill fought bitterly over location of the streets the city was preparing to cut into the sides of the hill," wrote The Chronicle in its 1958 piece describing the early 20th century in Dolores Heights. "Everyone wanted the paved street to be at the level of his house - not that of the house across the way, which might be 20 or 30 feet higher or lower." The result was that some streets are split by retaining walls between lanes. Others filled in on one side but not the other.  While families in the area staked their claim with affection and care, mid-century builders slapped in product with no thought for their surroundings.

Now, new houses must align with the guidelines of the Dolores Heights Special Use District established on January 10, 1980 by the San Francisco Planning Commission "to encourage development in context and scale with established character and landscape.”  Resolution #8472 further stated, “Dolores Heights is listed in the Urban Design Element of the Comprehensive Plan as one of five examples of outstanding and unique areas which contribute to San Francisco’s visual form and character and in which neighborhood associations should be encouraged to participate in the cooperative effort to maintain the established character.” 

While this twelve block gem sits atop its protected perch, the neighboring Inner Mission district beats to the drum of the current tech boom as the latest invasion of cash flushed millionaires snap up real estate that is home to the city’s Mexican and Central American immigrants.  Mark Zuckerberg’s purchase on 21st Street at Fair Oaks in 2012 signaled the beginning of this district's gentrification trend as developers have rushed in pushing property values upward to meet the demand of “time constrained” techies who have an insatiable appetite for move-in condition homes.

CaenLucier tip: While there is still much value growth potential for the Inner Mission neighborhood, we recommend that savvy, long term investors dive in while the property values have yet to skyrocket the way they have in Noe Valley over the past decade.

The City of Jewles

The City of Jewels - 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition

"The Innocent Fair" is a documentary from amazing rare nitrate film footage from the 1915 Panama-Pacific exposition shot in San Francisco.  The historical silent film reels were found in 1961 in Tiburon and subsequently employed by Ray Hubbard as the basis for this piece that he wrote and produced for KPIX-TV. 

While the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition was held to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal in 1913, it was also seen by city planners and dwellers as a stage to show off the city's - albeit hasty - resurgence and recovery following the earthquake and great fire of 1906. Today's only remaining specimen of the exhibit is the Palace of Fine Arts, however, the exposition left its stamp on the city, through its innovative architecture and city planning, yielding civic projects and developments that remain visible today, for example in the design of present day Civic Center with its Civic Auditorium and the contemporaneous structure of the emerging City Hall.


Building Upscale

Working with some of the best architects in the world, spending time creatively solving problems for clients and building a home from the ground up are just a few of the things that make a day at the office so fulfilling for Danny Bernardini of Upscale Construction.  As a native San Franciscan, Bernardini has been hooked on building since he was a child.  To this day, we see the child inside of him is still very much alive with his infectious curiosity, good will and an inherent ability to keep the creative process of home building a win-win process for all involved.  CaenLucier had a moment to catch up with Danny between appointments at a favorite watering hole near his Union Street offices.

Danny Bernardini, Tony Kelly  and  Brad Hayes

Danny Bernardini, Tony Kelly and Brad Hayes

CaenLucier: What was it that led you to becoming a general contractor in San Francisco?  How and when was Upscale Construction formed?

Danny Bernardini: I loved building as a child.  When my father hired a contractor to do any work around the house, I sat there and looked and tried to help anywhere I could.  As I grew older, I wanted to get into development, so I worked for a general contractor in Marin, then got my license and started Upscale Construction in 1995.  I saved enough money to start doing some home flipping, but then got my first break on high end home remodeling via a VC who saw one of the homes I flipped.  Soon after that, the word got out and Upscale Construction grew to where we are today based on client/architect/ real estate agent references.

CL: The city is a competitive market for high-end building firms.  What sets Upscale apart for the competition?

DB: I truly believe our core values set us apart.  We try to instill in our team what got us to where we are today, which is a company based on mutual respect, creativity, and customer service.

Mutual Respect Treat all members on the project team, whether it is the laborer, sub-contractor, project manager, client, or architect with the mutual respect you would want.  You want everyone on site and involved in the project to have a positive attitude towards working in the client's best interest.  If everyone is well respected, you will get that positive attitude reflected in their work.

Creativity – Custom building comes with challenges behind every door.  We found that our creativity to problem solving was one of the reasons many of our clients liked working with us.  We empower our team to think out of the box to solve problems and to be proactive in doing so.  No idea is a dumb one.

Customer Service – The design/build industry is based on customer service.  After all, we are building the homes people quite often live in for the balance of their lives.  Without customer service, you can’t gain a complete understanding of what the client wants out of their home.  If you don’t understand that facet, how can you really build their dream home?

CL: What is your favorite part of the design/build process?

DB: I personally love seeing what gets accomplished on the site.  When I was a laborer/carpenter, and even now, I found myself losing what we call “valuable time” at the end of the day walking through the job site looking at what got accomplished.  There is nothing better than knowing you built something from scratch! This is why I don’t see this time as time lost.  I actually value this time.  On that note, I miss swinging the hammer, so I do a lot of that at my own home.  I am enjoying teaching my son to do so!




"Treat all members on the project team, whether it is a laborer Sub-contractor, PM, Client, Architect with the mutual respect you would want.  You want everyone on the site and involved in the project to have a positive attitude and want to work in the client best interest.  If everyone is well respected, you will get that positive attitude reflected in their work."

Pierce Street  Pacific Heights

Pierce Street Pacific Heights

CL: What are the challenges that are presented when working with an existing home in town?

DB: One of the bigger challenges is trying to keep the neighbors happy.  Let’s face it, there is construction occurring on every other house these days.  The neighbors are constantly faced with double parked cars, noise, debris, etc. We try to make it as easy as possible on the neighborhood and we try to set up a relationship with the neighbors so they know they can come to us with any issues.  We have heard some people say "at least Upscale Construction will be the builder."  If a neighbor has to deal with a job site, most feel at ease knowing it is us managing the construction.

Another big challenge is communication.  I feel we are great builders, but to be honest, I think there are a ton of great builders.  I believe our communication style reduces the challenge of the actual build out for the clients and architects we work with.

CL: Are there any particular architects that your enjoy working with?

DB: We are really blessed in San Francisco to have some of the best architects in the world!  I enjoy working most with architects that are good collaborators and involve us in the early budgeting phase. Just take a look at our signs around town and you will see many of the talented architects with whom we work.

CL: With San Francisco as a tech hub, what new technology has come into play in your profession?

DB: Home automation is more and more prevalent in the homes we are building.  Savant home control systems seem to be one of the more popular choices out there.  Also, 90% of the homes are installing radiant heat throughout.  The day of the forced air systems seems to be going away. 

CL: What would your dream project look like?

DB: Something with a Bat Cave, unlimited budget, unlimited schedule, pleasant neighbors, and at a site with unlimited parking...wouldn’t that be nice!  We recently completed a Mid-Century home in Sea Cliff where the design was true to the original design, but modernized for how peole live today.  The client happened to be the architect.  For him to build his dream home in the vernacular I most enjoy was a treat!!

CL: How would you advise people looking to do a large scale renovation or “ground up” project to best interview builders?

DB: Interview your general contractors to best understand how they work.  Be collaborative with them and the design team to achieve your budget.  Share your budget.  Share your goals.   If you can find the team that is your advocate (team being the right architect, engineers, and general contractor) then you have made a great start.  I would not put several general contractors up against each other. There is a fallacy that people think they will get the best price by doing this.  The problem there is you have too many sub contractors bidding on the project and the sub selection might be based on price only versus right fit.  The subs will also only give so much effort to bidding it and they will miss scope.  They have little motivation to bid it if they know they have little odds of getting the job.  I could go on and on, but it is key to find the team members you truly believe have got your back, then make sure they are capable of the build, capable of managing the build, and capable of open, effective communication and transparency.

"Find the team members you truly believe have got your back, then make sure they are capable of the build, capable of managing the build, and capable of open, effective communication and transparency."

CL: What are the common mistakes that clients make during the construction part of a new home?

DB: They change their minds too much!! I am not sure about the exact psychology behind it all, but it seems a lot of client’s want something but hold back until construction starts to add it.  For example, we do a lot of pre-construction analysis with clients and commonly the "off the cuff" cost is too high.  So we then work with the design team and client to cut the cost to something they are happy with.  Then we start...mid-stream they add most of the items we discussed (and cut) back into the project.  The big problem then becomes the changes cost more than originally budgeted.  There is a sequence we try to keep in construction.  Disrupting it costs time and time is money.   I understand there are many variables in making decisions, but if a client knows for sure that they are going to do something tell us early so we can do it for the best price and in the proper sequence.

CL: What architectural style do you most gravitate towards?

DB: Contemporary and Mid-Century Modern.

CL: What would you do if not building San Francisco’s finest residences?

DB: I would sell produce.  It was my first job on Union Street as a kid and I loved it!

CL: What is your favorite SF restaurant?

DB: Tony’s Pizza in North Beach.  I grew up hanging out in North Beach and I love pizza!!

CL: What do you like to do in your time off? 

DB: I enjoy working on construction projects around my house, golf (which I never have time to do), and tennis with my family.  Most of all, I love spending time with my wife and kids.  I am a workaholic so the time I do spend with them is precious.

Wine Country  Healdsburg

Wine Country Healdsburg

Vallejo Street  Cow Hollow

Vallejo Street Cow Hollow

Elizabeth Street  Noe Valley

Elizabeth Street Noe Valley

CaenLucier would like to thank Danny Bernardini for all his time and effort participating in LOFTY HEIGHTS!


Walls of Art

Dating back from the Caves of Lascaux and the fresco adorned ancient city of Pompeii to the more refined skills that ancient artisans employed using lacquer finishing and verre églomisé, decorative painting and finishing reflects the history that cultures had for story telling and beauty.  Willem Racke of Willem Racke Studios offers clients an opportunity to enter his world of time honored artistry to grace their homes with his fresh vision on traditional techniques. Sitting down recently with Racke at his production studio in the Inner Mission shed light on the creative talents of this master craftsman.

CaenLucier: How did you come to the profession of decorative painting?

Willem Racke: I fell into decorative painting. I decided to take a break from college in New Zealand to travel to the US and Europe for a 1 to 2 year trip. I lived in San Francisco for six months then went to New York with the idea of living there for a while, then moving on to Europe. I had a friend in San Francisco and she put me in contact with a friend of hers who lives in New York that happened to be a decorative painter who needed an assistant. I loved the work and was crazy about the art scene in NYC. That six months lasted over 3 years. I returned to San Francisco, started my studio and haven’t looked back.

CL: If you could indulge yourself at home with your craft, which room and what type of treatment would draw your creative talents?

WR: I have bought, renovated and lived in several homes over the last few years, integrating decorative finishing into every one of them. The building where I live now is an industrial building in South of Market, which I renovated into a sophisticated urban loft. The style is very contemporary and I've used decorative finishes throughout, subtle Venetian plasters, custom finished wood paneling, industrial metal finishes. I’m currently working on a mural for my powder room; it’s going to be silhouettes of trees in black-and-white. In my next house I would love to have a paneled library finished in eggplant color lacquer.

CL: Looking back in history what examples of different cultures informing each other have been brought to your modern day craft?

WR: I think people need to be reminded that decorative painting is the first form of art, man painted the walls of caves long before any of the fine arts as we define them existed. Decorative plaster, frescos and painting techniques all date back to Roman times and probably were established well before that. Many historic cultures were reflected in how they painted and finished their residences and temples, Venetian plaster is written about in Vitruvius's De Architectura, a 1st Century B.C. history of Rome. So nothing is really new, it’s all about a fresh vision for traditional techniques that suits the aesthetics of today.

Lacquer finishing, as another example, is enjoying a revival today. The techniques for creating great lacquer are the same as the ones used in ancient China, we have modern tools and equipment to apply the materials but the hand sanding and buffing are all essential to a true lacquer finish.

CL: What are a couple of centuries old techniques that you enjoy employing in today’s interiors?

WR: I like subtle, tonal Venetian Plaster, it really elevates a neutral palette, we do a special Strata finish that goes from dark to light in a way that complements the interior furnishings.  I really like Verre églomisé, a reverse glass painting technique that gives an effect that you can’t duplicate in any other way, it plays with the light in a room.

Willem Racke

Willem Racke



"I think people need to be reminded that decorative painting is the first form of art, man painted the walls of caves long before any of the fine arts as we define them existed. Decorative plaster, frescos and painting techniques all date back to Roman times and probably were established well before that."

Tortoise shell  powder room

Tortoise shell powder room

CL: What would the powder room of your dreams look like?

WR: I have always contended that if you are going to go wild, do it in the powder room. I have done many extravagant powder rooms. We did an all tortoise shell powder room in a Nob Hill a pied a terre, walls and ceiling and cabinetry that is just over the top. Recently, I completed a verre églomise powder room inspired by the post impressionist jungle paintings of Henri Rousseau, it was quite a feat of art and engineering to create and install but it’s spectacular. Another over the top powder room was for a young, hip couple. We did the floors walls and ceiling in op art themed polka dots that oscillate for a bit of a mind-bending experience. If you aren’t a bit stoned when you walk in you certainly will be when you walk out.

CL: Have you seen any decorative finish in your international travels that you have developed to make your own?

WR: The Tsarskoye Selo museum in the Catherine palace in Saint Petersburg is one of the highest examples of decorative finishing in the world. Every surface is decoratively painted or gilded or treated in some way. I was really impressed by the elaborate inlaid wood floors and I developed techniques to translate that look into stenciled and stained designs for wood floors.

CL: Have you seen over the years your part of interior design work go through particular fads?  If so what?

WR: When I first started finishing in the 80’s the look was Memphis, lots of pastel blues, purples and greens. There was a lot of sea sponging wall finishes and faux marble was usually over the top. Now finishes are more refined and subtle, I mean we still do faux marble, we participated in the restoration of the Salon Doré at the Legion of Honor where we faux marbled the trim to match the real stone.

CL: Do you have a particular finish application that is near and dear to your heart?

WR: I am really liking verre églomisé these days, it’s a vintage French technique of reverse painting on glass that has a lot of visual impact when it’s done well. The jungle inspired verre églomisé powder room is a memorable room. I also love tortoise shell finishes, they can be so dramatic in the right setting.

Painted Beams  at the Park Lane

Painted Beams at the Park Lane

CL: Looking back on your career, what was one of the most challenging projects you were commissioned?

WR: We did a Venetian plaster mural for Cushman Wakefield’s downtown headquarters that were designed by Gensler. The mural is a “snails eye” view of an office tower done in monochromatic tones of plaster and then incised to create a bas-relief. The geometry of the extreme perspective in different tones combined with the thousands of facets were a real challenge to execute but the final result was worth the effort.

CL: How do you find yourself most often brought into a interior design project?

WR: My projects are commissioned mostly through designers, architects and contractors, I also work directly with clients. I have worked to develop ongoing long term relationships with all my clients who rely on me for my knowledge, experience and sense of aesthetics.

CL: Any particular designers that you enjoy working with/understand how best to implement your skills into a project?

WR: I have had the opportunity to work with many of the best designers on incredible projects. I have worked with Jay Jeffers on many of his projects, his work is elegant and beautiful. I enjoy working with Kelly Hohla, she is a rising creative talent with a unique point of view. I love working with Darin Geise of Coup D’etat, he is a unique force in the world of bay area design, we have done wall finishes for the showroom as well as window displays. I have done projects with Peter Marino, an amazing architect and designer.  

Stained and  stenciled floor

Stained and stenciled floor

Tortoise shell  chest of drawers

Tortoise shell chest of drawers

Op Art  Powder Room

Op Art Powder Room

CL: What is your idea of a perfect client?

WR: The perfect client is someone who I resonate with on an aesthetic level. I like working with designers and clients who understand and respect the art and craft that goes into finishing. I have a lot of experience and expertise in the field and it’s always great to be able to work with clients and designers who know, for example, that I have an extensive reference library for research that centers on decorative arts, both historical and modern to resource from. I can do my best work when the designer or client gives me some free rein and likes to collaborate.

"It’s a big project with great design and finishes; we have been working for six months producing samples and concepts."

CL: What is your favorite project that you are working on currently?

WR: We are working on a project in Hillsborough with Kelly Hohla, interior designer and Richard Beard, architect. It’s a big project with great design and finishes; we have been working for six months producing samples and concepts. In one of the rooms, we are doing lacquer finish inspired by the 2015 San Francisco Decorator Showcase room I designed that has a muted, polychromatic palette and high gloss finish. We’re also doing a dark turquoise lacquer pantry. Subtle Venetian plaster finishes and custom wood graining and finishing are part of the plans.

CL: What are you reading at the moment?

WR: I’m reading The White Road: Journey into an Obsession by Edmund de Waal. The author is a ceramicist who specializes in porcelain. The story is about his travels to the “white Hills” of the world and tracing the roots of porcelain and how it became the refined art and collected thing it is today. The book was given to me by Ron Schwartz, my first client and now friend, who is a collector of fine porcelains. It’s really given me a respect for the art and it’s significance in history.

CL: If you could choose another career what would it be?

WR: I would be an architect. That was my original plan. I wanted to travel for a year or two then return to New Zealand to study architecture. Obviously, my life went in another direction. I am really happy though that my chosen career enables me to be a part of the world great architecture and design.

CaenLucier would like to thank Willem Racke for all his time and amazing energy!


2865 Vallejo Street

2865 Vallejo Street

1997 - Sold for $1,825,000

2003 - Sold for $2,750,000

2014 - Sold for $6,995,000

2016 - Sold for $7,450,000

"These numbers show one thing for certain. Time is your friend when owning a home in San Francisco and blue chip property protects value in a downturn and takes the most advantage of a market cycle taking off again."

2002  Pacific  Ave #4

2002 Pacific Ave #4

1998 - Sold for $1,000,000

2009 - Sold for $2,400,000

2011 - Sold for $2,720,000

2014 - Sold for $3,900,000

2016 - Sold for $4,200,000

Pacific Heights known the world over as San Francisco’s premier neighborhood is home to hundreds of architecturally significant residences, quaint shopping districts, and iconic views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco bay. Since 1996, the median price of a Pacific Heights single family home has increased 367% from $1,200,000 to $5,600,000 with the condominium market showing a 286% gain from $375,000 to $1,450,000 in 2015. There have been downturns during this time, most notably the precipitous value drop in 2009-2011; but a long term real estate hold in this blue chip neighborhood has always been a wise investment. Even so, buyers often hedge and play the market timing game.

“In 30 years in this business, I do not know anybody who has done it (market timing) successfully and consistently, nor anybody who knows anybody who has done it successfully and consistently.” So were the words of John Bogle, founder of the Vanguard Group of Investment Companies. Over the past twenty years, we have noticed a strange phenomenon with intelligent and successful individuals in the San Francisco’s high end real estate market. For an inexplicable reason, very few tend to buy real estate when it is on sale. This is when the truly savvy take advantage of the window to buy at a discount and ride the market when it turns. Time after time in a hot market we hear, “I am going to wait until the market cools off to buy a home.” And yes they do wait…and wait…and wait! Most would agree that timing the bottom is luck. Which is why we see most of these “smart” buyers wait until the market turns and fervently chase each other back to the multiple offer market place. Makes sense right? Uh?

The reality of purchasing a home often relies on factors outside of market economics. A job transfer, an equity event, a marriage, more kids on the way, divorce, downsizing are some of the life events that call for a new home. Our advice to our San Francisco clients today who are looking at a mature market cycle is to protect themselves by specifically buying blue chip real estate. Buy in Pacific Heights! Practice time honored fundamentals. Location, location, location. Buy the least expensive house on the best block. Get into the 2000+ sqft condominium market. Of the 2,694 condominiums in Pacific Heights only 427 are 2000 sqft or more. This is a relatively safe sector since buyers are increasingly getting priced out of this neighborhood's single family home market and alternatively choosing to stay by purchasing a large condo.  Playing defense in a hot market is an astute way to build confidence and be prepared to strike when the right property comes to market. In the last twenty years the Pacific Heights market has topped twice. First in 2001 concurrent with the dot-com bust with a median price of $3,684,000 then in 2007 at a median price of $4,037,000. The market did take approximately five years each time to climb back to these peak prices. The current market the Pacific Heights median price is 38% above the 2007 top at $5,600,000.  How about that!

What to make of these market cycles when coupled with the lives we lead from our homes? These numbers show one thing for certain. Time is your friend when owning a home in San Francisco and blue chip property protects value in a downturn and takes the most advantage of a market cycle taking off again.

CaenLucier Tip: We encourage you to take our thoughts into consideration and listen to our seasoned professional advice when purchasing in any part of the market cycle. A bet on Pacific Heights real estate is one that we will continue to encourage for a solid part of your financial portfolio and a place to enjoy your life!


Paul Wiseman

Paul Wiseman

"The internet generation thinks that quality and appropriateness come with the push of a button. What we do is a process, not a product."

Entering the home of The Wiseman Group along the northern slope of Potrero Hill is to be transported into a world of serene order and beauty punctuated by the ever warm greeting from the bespectacled master of ceremonies himself, Paul Wiseman. Before we sat down in the firm's project clad conference room, Wiseman indulged us in a tour of the firm's extensive design studios. During the past 30 years, Paul has become one of the most successful and respected interior designers in America. Architectural Digest’s special edition, “100 years of Design,” mentions Paul as one of the top designers. He has been widely published and over a 16 year period has been listed on the A.D. Best Designers list. Our look behind the TWG curtain tells a story of unrelenting precision and passion where the alchemy of Paul Wiseman and his creations live.

CaenLucier: What do you consider "good" design?

Paul Wiseman: Anything that is appropriate for its location, climate and use. Attention to detail and well considered options result in design decisions of the highest caliber.

CL: How has your constant curiosity as a person kept your work evolving and fresh?

PW: I am always curious and there are only two guarantees in life – death and change, so I might as well be curious about change.

CL: How do you see your client’s process today in relation to the way clients and the process worked as you came to prominence years ago?

PW: I think the internet has been a great benefit and also a great hindrance to our industry. The internet generation thinks that quality and appropriateness come with the push of a button. What we do is a process, not a product.





CL: You are currently working with Richard Beard on a Joseph Esherick home in Hillsborough. How has your experience working with Richard on past projects and this current project been unique, surprising and professionally enhancing?

 PW: Working with Richard has been professionally enhancing due to the fact that we are both well-traveled, with our focus based upon the love of architectural history and cultural references. This also enriches our relationship with clients by offering our special and unique talents within the design process. Working with a great client and a talented architect like Richard reinforces my belief in the collective creative process.  It’s a wonderful synergy! We also share a wicked sense humor.

Pacific Heights Collaboration: Paul Wiseman and Richard Beard Architects

Please view the before and after photograph slide show below!

CL: How have your travels trained your eye?

PW: I was very fortunate to have lived abroad twice in Australia and France and have the opportunity to have extended travels around the world before cultures became more homogenized. Combined with my general curiosity, it allowed me to have a very deep dictionary of cultural cross references.

CL: Have you ever traveled with a client for collective inspiration for a project?

PW: I have numerous times over the years.  In one instance even before the house was built, I went on a buying trip to London with our client. We really bonded around discovering four 18th century chimney pieces that set the tone for the entire design of the home. The soft limestone-not marble-suggested a relaxed palette for the décor.  We were so lucky to find them; I have never seen that quality since.

CL: Working with a variety of clients’ personal aesthetics and different property locations, is there a Wiseman touch that is a common thread throughout these homes.

PW: Every client is different. What I hope to achieve with every project is to get the client to connect to the architecture and location based upon their own personal preferences. Good taste comes in many forms and it is my job to be the guide.

Hillsborough Living Room

CL: You lived in a very formal residence on Nob Hill prior to your current residence on Belvedere Island. How have each of these residences been a reflection of the same person?

PW: The city apartment formally provided a great backdrop for that part of my life that was much more social. In order to maintain my creativity, the older I get the more I must have sacred space to rejuvenate that creativity. Belvedere provides a perfect venue – I can garden and cook and still entertain, but at a much more relaxed pace.

CL: What is your favorite color and why?

 PW: Most shades of yellow and green, because they remind me of nature.

"We have had clients that became serious students of the architectural styles and design motifs we chose for their home.  Armed with the knowledge and possessing great creativity, they put their stamp on the project and made it their own."

CL: How would you describe your "dream client?"

PW: Intelligent, curious, kind and respectful. We have had clients that became serious students of the architectural styles and design motifs we chose for their home.  Armed with the knowledge and possessing great creativity, they put their stamp on the project and made it their own.

CL: What is your favorite project that your firm is working on at the moment?

PW: All of my projects are favorites, but the most unusual is the Frank Gehry house that we are currently working on. It is Frank’s first residence in 25 years and his first residence in Northern California. 

CaenLucier would like to thank Paul Wiseman for all his time and amazing energy! We would also like to thank Layne Varholdt and Kevin Peters of TWG for their organization in helping us produce this feature!



"Every site tells you something different, and siting and locating a new house is a real art.  After many years, I’m happy with my record."

When meeting Richard Beard for the first time one perceives a sense of calm and good humor.  Recently visiting his new Dogpatch offices, it is clear why, as we peruse high-caliber past projects and current visions underway that cast light on a creative talent at the top of his game.  With his substantial body of work, Beard shows his understanding of the ability of truly listening, deftly assessing a site, and creating an interactive approach with his discerning clientele which engages and always inspires.  After working at BAR Architects and heading up their residential design department, Beard decided to open up his own shop, Richard Beard Architects, in 2014 to create a smaller studio environment specifically focused on residential design.  We found him in good spirits over lunch as he shared some personal insights on architecture and beyond.

CaenLucier: When did you first realize that you wanted to dedicate your career to architecture?

Richard Beard: That’s easy:  I was a teenager, working for a bricklayer in Houston, under the hot Texas summer sun.  It was a very Ayn Rand / Fountainhead moment.  Think about when Gary Cooper is looking up out of the stone quarry at Patricia Neal, and you’ve pretty much got it.

CL: After working at BAR Architects as a senior partner for many years and heading up the custom home residential design group, how are you now enjoying having your own firm?

RB: I’m enjoying it a lot.  I’m happy to have been a part of BAR’s growth and success over the years—they’re up to about 85 people now I believe—but it was time for me to take a new tack and move on to a smaller studio of architects primarily focused on residential design.  The size is great, as is my staff, and I’m most happy that we have a roster of great clients and projects. 

Soda Canyon, napa valley  collaboration with paul wiseman

Soda Canyon, napa valley collaboration with paul wiseman

Burwell House  Sonoma County

Burwell House Sonoma County

CL: What architecture around the world inspires you?

RB: Wow.  That’s a big one.  I’ve been fortunate to have traveled quite a bit for work and pleasure.  It’s not always just the architecture, but how the community of design and culture develops with it.  From my own home state, Texas, there is Marfa, and all of Donald Judd’s work.  Completely amazing.   Visit his former studio in New York (soho) sometime, too.  And Renzo Piano’s Menil collection—one of the most beautiful yet understated museums in the world.  The Kimball in Fort Worth.  These were all early inspirations. Houston when I was growing up was a big boom town and still is to a degree.  Gerald Hines was bringing in great architects for commercial projects—it was inspiring.

The Menil  Collection

The Menil Collection

But further afield, have you been to the Amalfi Coast and Naples?  While it’s full of tourists much of the time, there are amazing places there that really impress on quite human scales and emotions:  in Naples, the Certosa for instance.  Sublime.  And on the coast, the San Pietro Hotel, sitting on an unbelievably steep bluff, not entirely “designed” but more accrued over the years, is really great.  And then there’s Ravello, the Villa Cimbrone and gardens.  No wonder Gore Vidal lived nearby for so long.

Villa Cimbrone  and Gardens

Villa Cimbrone and Gardens

I’m also a big fan of Japan.  In particular there’s a wonderful island, Naoshima, in the Seto Sea, that is magical in many ways.  Art installations and Tadao Ando’s architecture really amaze you, and the juxtaposition with the little fishing village’s indigenous architecture makes for quite a place.  I’m glad it’s so hard to get to, otherwise it’d be over-run.

CL: That’s interesting that you mentioned Japan.  I notice that you’ve had some multi-family projects over a long time in Japan.  How is working over there, versus here, for instance?

RB: Well, there’s quite a difference.  My client in Japan values quality, design and operations to an amazingly high degree.  For over twenty years I’ve been working for them, with the exact same team of interior and landscape designers.  They’re an inspirational group, challenging and rewarding.  Japanese contractors are amazing.  I was visiting a recent project under construction—I couldn’t believe how clean everything was.  On each floor are two rolling carts that contain fire extinguishers and five or six brooms.  That should tell you something.  The workers practice group supporting drills every day.

Pacific Heights  Paul Weisman  and  Richard Beard  Collaboration

Pacific Heights Paul Weisman and Richard Beard Collaboration

To view the before and after photos of this amazing residence- Click Here

CL: This all sounds pretty great; what would you like to do if you were not an architect? 

RB: Hah!  Concert pianist, but I’m a terrible player.  Ditto tennis.  Rock star?  But then Paul said I’d look like Keith Richards.  Writer was and is always an attraction, both fiction and non-fiction.

CL: What are your reading now?

RB: Apart from keeping up with the ever challenging stack of New Yorkers, I’m currently re-reading some of Truman Capote’s early essays, profiles and observations.   He was a great writer back then.  Also Haruki Murakami, “After Dark.”   And “Rendez-vous with Art” by Philippe de Montebello.

CL: What is your favorite project that you have completed recently?

RB: I think the Cole House project in Calistoga is a favorite.  It’s a historic farmhouse (late 19th century) complex we’ve completely re-done, while keeping all the historic exterior historic pieces in tact.  Great clients.  And the project includes a historic, commercial chicken coop.  Try that one.!

Cole House  Calistoga

Cole House Calistoga

Abalone Cove  Big Sur

Abalone Cove Big Sur

Santa Lucia Preserve  California

Santa Lucia Preserve California

ICAA Julia Morgan Award Winning Residence 2014  Dolores Heights, San Francisco

ICAA Julia Morgan Award Winning Residence 2014 Dolores Heights, San Francisco