From its impeccably preserved Victorian façade to its fully modernized interior, 459 Ashbury is a magnificent example of San Francisco residential architecture—a testament to both the city’s historical grandeur and its taste for innovation. Spread over more than 4,200 square feet and 4 stories, the home boasts 5 bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms, gorgeous living spaces, versatile additional rooms, and numerous decks, balconies, and terraces, in addition to a sizeable backyard. Completed in 2008, a dramatic renovation reimagined the structure as an energy-efficient and fully tech-enabled living environment. These improvements preserved and accentuated period features such as decorative hearths on two different levels, richly sculpted moldings, and ubiquitous chandelier medallions, which now support sleek, new lighting fixtures.
While the interior of 459 Ashbury is a delicate fusion of the historical and the contemporary, the façade is high Queen-Anne splendor. Built in 1893 by the noted team of architects Robert D. Cranston and Hugh Keenan, their design is a masterclass in Victorian ornament. An award-winning paint job highlights its extensive dentil moldings, garlands, geometric reliefs, and fluted Neo-Classical columns in bold blues, whites, and purples, with tasteful gilding to underscore select features. The two most remarkable aspects of this edifice—an angled turret on one side balanced with a distinctive balcony in an arched niche on the other—make this home stand-out on a block known for fine Victorians.
From Ashbury Street, one ascends a staircase surmounting the garage, arriving at a broad terrace finished in mosaic tile. This is just one of many outdoor spaces at 459 Ashbury that will beckon for coffee and the newspaper on a weekend morning or a glass of wine in the evening. The terrace eases one into the home, where one proceeds either upstairs or to the living room. An immense bay window floods the living room in natural light, illuminating the carved stone fireplace and mantle, the ornate chandelier rosettes, and the espresso hardwood floors found throughout the home. Scroll-shaped brackets near the ceiling mark the transition to the dining room, where a wall with extensive built-in shelving crafted from live-edge boards adds a distinctly contemporary flair.
The kitchen and great room welcome you as you pass between those built-ins. Situated on a corner, a strikingly modern gas fireplace in black marble catches the eye to create an inviting atmosphere further enhanced with ample recessed lighting and a soundtrack emanating from in-ceiling speakers. As beautiful as it is functional, the kitchen is fit for the most discerning professional chef with stainless steel counters and splashes surrounding the stove, while an 11-foot slab of marble crowns a dramatic island with bar seating for four. The premium gas range, oven, microwave, and refrigerator are all by Viking. Steps away, a wet bar with under-counter wine fridge allows for drink service without disturbing culinary projects underway in the kitchen. Two separate doors lead to a large tiled deck encircled with foliage from mature plantings in the yard below. Moving between the levels of this home, one can either use the spiral staircase that connects the patios and decks from the ground floor through the second story, or the grand skylit staircase, with massive wood bannisters and custom wrought-iron balusters, that unifies the home top to bottom.
Above the main living areas is a level devoted to the home’s two main bedrooms, as well as a third, smaller one. Located at the rear of the home, the primary bedroom suite features a sun parlor-like sitting area with extensive built-ins. Outfitted with custom cabinetry, the walk-through closet also houses a convenient washer and dryer. Accessible from both the walk-in closet and the sleeping quarters, the luxurious bathroom offers a dual sink and large tub surrounded in marble, as well as an expansive shower lined in marble tile. The front bedroom on this level is sure to be a cherished space, with its fireplace surround of glazed tile, a carved oak mantle, a bay window, and, most notably of all, exclusive access to the front balcony. Its iron railing and arched roofline provide a whimsical frame for the street scene beyond this charming Victorian vignette. A full bath with shower-over-tub serves both the front and middle bedrooms, the latter a dignified space featuring built-in shelving and a tray ceiling with crown moldings.
The top floor is divided into two bedrooms, each with its own bathroom en suite. With extensive cabinetry, a gently sloped ceiling, as well as a private deck overlooking the backyard, the room at the rear of the house is perfect for a child or teen. Overlooking Ashbury Street is a unique and expansive space that, if not used as a bedroom, would make a perfect creative studio or a large second office. It is also a daring tour-de force of home renovation. Conventional wall treatments extend up to the level of the crown moldings, at which point an open-beam ceiling begins, exposing the whitewashed joists and boards of the original 1893 construction. The effect is especially remarkable within the turret, where it displays the ten-sided pinwheel of ceiling beams converging overhead.
With access from both the entry level and directly from the garage, the ground level offers a full bathroom, as well as two additional bonus spaces that are ideal for use as a home gym, a workshop, a playroom, or an office. Down the hall is a generous laundry area, as well as a luxurious, cedar-lined sauna. From the ground floor, one can step out onto a covered backyard patio perfect for dining al fresco and, beyond it, into a backyard bordered with mature perennials. The spiral staircase leading to the kitchen above makes it easy to enjoy meals around a patio table while creating exciting possibilities for outdoor entertaining.
Situated on a quiet residential block of Ashbury just south of the Panhandle, a long greenspace popular for its walking paths and playgrounds, 459 Ashbury offers all the charm and convenience of one of San Francisco’s most storied and sought-after neighborhoods. Within 4 blocks are both the scenic cypress groves of Buena Vista Park and the manicured gardens and top-flight museums of Golden Gate Park. Keeping this home well-stocked is effortless as well, with a Whole Foods only 5 blocks away and the small-town main street of Cole Valley—known for its restaurants, cafés, and old-fashioned soda fountain—within a 10-minute walk. The area has a Walk Score of 97 and a Bike Score of 90, ratings certifying it as both a “Walker’s Paradise” and a “Bikers Paradise.” The public transit options are quite good as well, with the N-Judah line of the MUNI light rail ready to whisk you downtown from a stop just one half-mile away. Even driving becomes a breeze with garage parking for 3 cars. With this prime location, a glamorously restored Victorian façade, and the amenities of a fully modernized interior, 459 Ashbury offers an unsurpassable living experience deeply connected to the past, present, and future of San Francisco.
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