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San Francisco home with 30-foot-tall living wall going for $4.2 million

After years of seeing his developer and contractor clients flip homes, architect Joshua Larson recalled thinking, 'Well that doesn't seem that hard.'

As reported in, two years ago he decided to take on 128 Woodland Ave. in Parnassus Heights. A silent partner financed the then-$1.8-million property and Larson spent the next year and a half drawing up plans, going through the extensive permitting process, selecting the materials and working with the contractor to transform the 1922 property while still doing design work for other clients.

As the now $4.2-million home enters the market, Larson has changed his first impression of development work. "It's a very hard task to pull off a project of this scale with a set budget while at the same time trying to create an inspiring project that stands out from other developers," he said. "It's not easy. I learned a lot but feel really satisfied with end result."

Because the neighborhood is not known for modern homes, Larson kept the "overall scale and mass" of the original facade. "You do not sense that the house is unlike any others in the neighborhood until you step inside,” he said. “We did not want to change the ‘pattern language' with the adjacent houses and instead voted to create an element of surprise on the interior with the modern layout, including the finishes selected."

Larson said buyers appreciate how "peaceful and zen-like the house feels to them" as well as "the quality of natural light that is present on every floor." That light is thanks to the home's most unique feature - a three-floor atrium accented by a 30-foot-high irrigated "living wall."

It's all a part of the home's indoor-outdoor appeal, which is complemented by the location adjacent to the Mt. Sutro Open Space Reserve. Several rooms in the four-floor home, which also has an elevator, open onto the atrium or the back decks overlooking the open space.

This prime location appealed to Larson and allowed him to see the property’s potential.

"Sitting on the back decks feels like being in nature. [It's like] Marin County but with San Francisco at your fingertips. The sound of nature is in full swing all year round."

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