Painted Lady sports fresh coat 

Through his painting company Oliva Associates Inc., Steve Oliva has the opportunity to see and work on many of San Francisco’s Painted Ladies, the fine Victorian and Queen Anne homes for which The City is renowned. So in 1995, when looking for a home for himself and his children, he chose the most beautiful one he could find in the Haight, which was then an underappreciated neighborhood.

Now, three paint jobs and roughly $3,000 in gold leaf later, he is selling the house at 459 Ashbury St.

"It’s in all the Painted Lady books," Oliva said. "The size, the height, the ceiling, the front door is a massive front door, the details of the house ... living in a Victorian is a wonderful thing. It puts you backward in time. It’s very stately."

The four-bedroom home is in fact a Queen Anne Victorian, separating it from other Victorians of boxier shape, real estate broker Harald Stangl said. The style, popular from 1880 to 1900, is notable for its gingerbread work, wooden fences and its varied trim colors, with as many as six or seven colors per house. The house’s tax records put its construction at 1900, but it may be older due to a quirk of tax records of the time, Stangl said.

The construction was done by the famous local firm Cranston & Keenan and later served as the home of U.S. senator Alan Cranston, Oliva said.

Working with long-term business associate David VanDommelen, Oliva chose light colors and gold leaf for the exterior, results that he likes though they differ from the dark, muted shades favored in the late 1800s. He also addedlarge decks and a spiral staircase to the rear of the house.

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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