Once upon a year the public pays for access to the private world of Pacific Heights.


In the 94115 we have an 8000+ square-foot Georgian mansion at 2800 Pacific Avenue with 27 interior and exterior design spaces transformed by 24 design firms. Oh yes, the views are amazing. Alcatraz island peaks out over the hill in the center of the golden gateway. From the east balcony you can see the tip of the Transamerica pyramid doing a “Where’s Waldo” in the middle of the San Francisco skyline. On the north side are a lot of opaque window coverings and exceptionally narrow staircases. This is traditional monster home camouflage for room count trumping open space.


This year shows the waning of the terrarium fad and an homage to Restoration Hardware colors and re-purposed metal factory do-dads turned into lighting fixtures. The only place busting out of the lux look was the teen room sporting a touch of designer wacky, courtesy of Applegate Tran Interiors. How fitting to have a centerpiece neon sign proclaiming “Everything You Want, Right Now”. The washrooms shined again this year with impressive engineering feats. One small room borrowed the mobile home concept of toilet and shower all in one with a glamorized version complete with flowing Swarovski crystal bead strings and a floor drain disguised as a narrow etched design element on the striped concrete floor. Another larger wash room contained a shower with sliding open weave lacquered doors, followed by a bathtub flanked by a living wall.

Something has me irked about these high end benefit events. It reminds me of my disappointment over the many years of attending the Tenderloin Celebrity Pool Toss. Back in the day there was a democratic Euro-trash feel to the evening, brimming with food, personal fashion and over-the-top art for the people. My all time fav was the Donker Brothers, three hunky blond painters who collaborated on your portrait for $200. That was an affordable, memorable splurge. One year the local socialite Charlotte Mailliard volunteered to be dunked and thrilled the crowd by jumping in with a full length mink, quickly followed into the pool by her hairdresser. Fast forward to the last couple of years where you have no idea who the “celebrities” are and lose interest watching the auction and the in-crowd get progressively more sloshed. Everyone knows the bidders are all preselected fronts for the dunkee anyway. There are tasty tidbits and drinks that run out after the first hour. Gone are the pop-up artists and entertainment.

Back to the Showcase rant already in progress.The designers did an amazing job as usual. The cause was worthy. Evidence of skill and big budgets were everywhere. But where was the sense that you were part of the exclusive event? The general feel of the Showcase is a far cry from 2012’s art gallery-like display of ethnicity and whimsy. There was a room blasting loud African music with matching loud colors. It was a friendly party atmosphere where people actually sat and talked to one another. The rooms seemed to be inspired around art rather than budget or function. For example, there was artist Michel Pred’s bathroom ceiling umbrella festooned with dangling sharp airport security confiscated scissors. Now you can wander around and eavesdrop conversations amongst the regulars of Pac Heights. I heard one woman ask someone if he had ever attended before. He replied with alarm, “oh yes, I started this thing. I was at this house annually for Halloween carrying my teddy bear”. And everyone was coming up to young ladies in formal gowns or skin tight short mini dresses and stilettos wishing them congratulations. Er, maybe for their design, or engagement, or pregnancy, I wasn’t always sure what was going on.

The following images provide a feel for the event and hopefully peak your curiosity enough to pony up the dollars for a self guided tour. Come to satisfy your curiosity on how the one percent lives and stay to be inspired by the interior designs. Your money is helping diversify San Francisco University High School by contributing to their financial aid program. Believe me, this is way better than crashing a real estate agent’s open house.
2800 Pacific Avenue
April 27 through May 27

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday
10:00am – 3:00pm (last entry)
10:00am – 7:00pm (last entry)
Sunday and Memorial Day:
11:00am – 4:00pm (last entry)
Closed Monday (except Memorial Day)

General Admission $30
Seniors $25

(415) 447-5830

Proceeds benefit the financial aid program
of the San Francisco University High School
at 3065 Jackson Street, SF, CA 94115