San Francisco – The Rainbow City


San Francisco purple, pink, aqua and lime houseIt’s become a bit of a tradition for me to announce, at the end of every holiday, that I want to live wherever I happen to be at that particular time. These grand announcements tend to only take place in lovely hot places by the sea, you certainly wouldn’t find me making such a bold statement if I was visiting anywhere north of Watford. I’m nesh you see (nesh is a lovely northern word meaning unusually susceptible to cold weather, just in case you didn’t know) and I spend most of my time in England trying to get warm.

Trying to get warm isn’t particularly glamorous, it involves thermal underwear, big baggy jumpers and wearing socks to bed all year round. I’d rather wake up every day of the summer to beautiful sunshine cracking the flags, be able to arrange a barbecue for a fortnight’s time and pretty much know the weather will be good, and to actually go to bed without socks on for a change; I know my husband would like that. Now, before you say it, the irony hasn’t passed me by; I’m aware I’m having a bit of a grumble about our weather just as we’re experiencing a ‘heatwave’ but I yearn to live in a place where summery weather is known as SUMMER, and not a heatwave!

San Francisco mint green house

Adorable mint, with pale pink and jade accents

San Francisco lemon house

Beautiful gentle lemon colour, and I love the domes on the roof

Rightmove’s ‘abroad’ section and I are intimately acquainted. After a trip to Skiathos and a chat to our British walking guide who lived there, I decided that Greg and I were moving there! It was perfect. I’d always wanted to live in Greece, it had direct flights to the UK from the island, the property prices were good, Greg could work as a freelance contractor and be far less stressed, we were near enough for family to visit, and I could still fly home if I had an interior design project on the go. I had it all planned…Until we took a trip to Peurto Pollensa. And then I decided we were moving to Mallorca! It was perfect. I’d always wanted to live in Mallorca, we could get a cracking house for our money, Greg could follow his heart and become a mountain biking guide and I could design Spanish houses for a living. Marvellous. All sorted. Onto Rightmove I go for a long and pointless property search.

San Francisco sugary pink house

Oh my word, my heart skips a beat every time I look at this one. It’s the combination of pink, rose, white and teal, with so much gorgeous detail

San Francisco turquoise house

This would be the colour I’d paint mine

You’re getting the picture right? Am I fantasist? Maybe….but I do believe that if you have lots of dreams, you might just make one happen. And we nearly did. We visited Fowey in Cornwall, fell in love with the place and, well, you guessed it, “Greg, we’re moving to Fowey!!”. I know it doesn’t fall into the ‘hot country’ category, but it was near the sea; and love makes you compromise. There was a sweet little shop for sale on the high street, with a flat above it; we booked a viewing, liked it, chatted to the estate agent about living there, decided I’d set up an interior design shop and Greg would change jobs, went home, put our house on the market and promptly made an offer on the property in Fowey. Bless my husband, he would never come up with such a plan but he went along with the adventure full heartedly, so it was a surprise to both of us that it was me who put the brakes on the entire thing. As the move became more real, it became more obvious to me that I couldn’t leave my Mum and move six hours away from her; what if she needed me? what if I needed her? So, we withdrew our offer, found a shop in Knutsford, and decided to have our little adventure a bit closer to home instead.

San Francisco rainbow house

An actual rainbow house

San Francisco purple and yellow house

I love the row of pink, purple and lemon houses all sitting prettily together

Well, that should’ve been the end to all future fantasising about moving abroad, surely? If I couldn’t move to Cornwall, then how on earth could I move further afield. And isn’t it about time that I just accepted that I live in England and appreciate what this country has to offer, and just be happy here? And I am. I absolutely adore my country. I love everything about it…my family, the countryside, the culture, the people, everything. Except the weather. If I could just get a massive tug-boat and pull the land mass south, then I’d be happy. But alas, I can’t, and I’m tired of miserable summers and dark winters, and despite not wanting to leave my Mum, I seem utterly incapable of stopping myself from dreaming of hotter climes!

San Francisco colour blocking

Colour blocking on the exteriors. Even gates look gorgeous in San Fran

San Francisco apple green house

A sweet apple green colour. Can you imagine decorating those beautiful sun-filled round rooms. I do like a good turret

So the latest place we’re moving to is California. I haven’t even been there. That’s how ridiculous this most recent fantasy is! But that is the latest place you’ll find in my Rightmove’s ‘abroad’ search, and that is the latest focus of many daydream chats Greg and I have over a glass of wine. Now, don’t you be thinking this is on a whim. Oh no, this has been thoroughly thought out in my little mind. The problem with Greece and Mallorca and Turkey (yep, that one snuck in a couple of years ago) and Barcelona (four years ago) has been the language barrier. Greg and I need to work and that would prove rather difficult without speaking the lingo. So all those previous little dreams had been positively silly and naive; what was I thinking of?! No, the country we move to needs to be English speaking. Australia is too far, so it has to be the U.S., and I’ve always liked the look of California on various films and t.v. programmes, it looks so bohemian and chilled out, and the coast is stunning (one should always base one’s life-changing moves on how things seem on the telly!). Greg went there years ago and loved the place, and tells me I’ll fall in love with it so much when I visit, that I won’t have any qualms about leaving the UK. So California it is. Greg wants to run a mountain bike and surf shop called Turf & Surf (genius) and I rather think my colourful decorating style would do better over there where they’re far more open to colour.

San Francisco pale mauve house

I love this one. The palest of lilacs, with gorgeous colourful stripes on the details

San Francisco popping front doors

Bright front doors ‘pop’ against their calmer backgrounds

But where in California, God only knows. We plan to take a trip next year and travel along the entire coast and get a feel for the country. My upholsterer used to live in California and told me his favourite place to live had been San Francisco. I haven’t got a clue about the city apart from everyone I know who’s been tells me it’s amazing, so it’s high up on our list of places to visit and we plan to spend about four days of our trip there. We then want to head down the coast, and check out Monteray, Big Sur, Los Angeles, finally ending up in San Diego. Even if we never ever move there, and we’re having a marvellously delusional fantasy, it will be a fantastic holiday and we’re really looking forward to it. And San Francisco has definitely started nestling in my imagination as a cool place to live.

San Francisco purple house

Did I mention I like a turret? It’s not a euphemism by the way, I’m referring to architecture. And look at those lovely tiles

San Francisco blue and white house

More wonderful round rooms. And a fantastic nautical blue

So envisage how a colour-lover like me felt this week when I discovered an article The Guardian had published online titled “Rainbow city: the colourful houses of San Francisco”, which featured beautiful images of brightly painted houses. A photographer called Kristen Simar believes ‘that the unique character of her home city is being washed away by wealthy incomers and new development – so has set about capturing it, one colourful house at a time’. All her photographs are posted on her Instagram stream dedicated to this project, and I definitely recommend a follow (@home_schooling) if you like the images on this post. She says “San Francisco’s lifeblood is in its neighbourhoods. Each colourful house is a celebration of the city’s history and of the people who have chosen to call San Francisco home. No two houses are the same and each story is unique.” To someone like myself, who just loves artistic expression and individuality and colour, what more could you want from where you live? San Francisco is no longer merely nestling in my imagination, it’s beginning to grow!

San francisco blue and grey house

This house almost looks French. And the pale colours are exquisite

San Francisco yellow house

So cheerful and happy

These are my dream houses. Victorian architecture has always been my favourite (in addition to Gaudí and his fellow Catalan modernists, but more of that another time), I love how detailed and individual they are. Cross over the pond during the same era, and the Americans were building them even more fanciful and dramatic, which I love even more. Add to this the fact that you can then paint them ANY colour you want, well, I need a glass of cold water and my brow to be dabbed. I want one of these houses. No, strike that. I NEED one of these houses. I want a big one, with a balcony and a round turret, and a fabulous veranda and little tiles that overlap each other on the fascia. And I want it in turquoise, with pink and lilac and emerald details, with donkeys in the back garden and a house pig roaming the rooms. Stop. Sorry, two fantasies just fused there for a minute. Let’s go back and remove the donkeys and pig and return to my turquoise, pink and emerald green house, and there you have it, that’s the dream.

San Francisco balcony

Please can I have this balcony?

San Francisco lime green house

Not my favourite house, but love the colour

Inside my dream house, our cat is curled up on our bed, my husband and dogs are playing in the sunny garden, and I’m pottering about painting some shabby old antique, probably also in turquoise. The girl I worked with in my shop once had a dream (a proper dream, the ones you have when you’re asleep; not the ‘life’ ones I keep prattling on about) that she’d come to work the next day and I’d painted absolutely everything turquoise, but I digress. In the evening, we’d walk the dogs around the streets and look at all the other fabulously colourful houses and go and visit Mum (come on, it’s my perfect daydream! Of course she’s moved out there too!). And we would revel in living in such a place that allowed you to break convention and paint your house so expressively. It’s that bohemian spirit that will eventually draw me to San Francisco to explore, even if it’s just for a few days; and if I can never have one of these beautiful houses for myself, it will be reward enough just to lay my very own eyes on them and drink in their beauty; and daydream a little bit more!

San Francisco aqua house

So pretty in duck egg blue

San Francisco purple and pink house

Wowsers. Where are my sunglasses?

I hope you love the pictures that the talented Kristen Simar has taken. All of them on this post were taken by her. I have tried to find her on twitter and Facebook, or find a website, so I can stalk her a little bit more, but to no avail. For now I’ll have to be happy with her Instagram feed. As mentioned, her handle is @home_schooling. If you would like to add these images to your Pinterest, it might be easier to do it from my own board here, you’ll find them all already pinned there. Apologies to the Guardian for nicking their article but I doubt they’ll mind a teeny-tiny blog sharing their stuff! And if you have a dream home that you fantasise about and you wouldn’t mind sharing, I would love to hear from you. x

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I know this house is white but that archway on the porch is enough to make me want to buy this house. And then I would have so much fun deciding where my turquoise, pink, lilac and emerald paint would go!

Join the conversation

  • Tyler Merkel - 2 years ago

    Where is that first super colorful house located? Love love love this post 🙂