Earlier last week, Curbed readers were asked to nominate buildings with the most beautiful interiors, posing the question, “What interior spaces make you say, ‘whoa’?”
The readers’ picks that rolled in didn’t disappoint, from hotels to churches to bathrooms. And one thing we learned is that a trip to the dentist office is made a little less painful by the awe-inspiring decor of one Art Deco structure.
And now, the 17 most beautiful interiors in San Francisco, as chosen by Curbed SF readers, listed in order from west to east.
Of course, this is by no means a complete list, so please keep the conversation going by sharing your favorite interiors in the comments section. We will continue to update with more spacious beauty as you give it to us.
1. The Salon Doré at the Legion of Honor
The best example of French Neoclassical interior architecture in the United States, the Salon Doré (which moved from the Hôtel de La Trémoille in France) at the Legion of Honor is possibly the most gorgeous room in all of San Francisco.
2. Conservatory of Flowers
Ever since 1879, the conservatory of flora has dazzled many with hundreds of species of flowers and plants. This Victorian-era beauty has been promoting flower power well before the hippies and their patchouli-laced summer of love.
3. San Francisco Columbarium & Funeral Home
Inspired by the Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago, architect Bernard J.S. Cahill designed this gorgeous ode to the deceased resulting in a structure that’s beautiful inside and out. The eight rooms on the ground floor bear the names of the mythological winds. Six of the ground floor rooms boast stunning stained glass windows.er in design. A home for the dearly departed has never looked so alive.
4. Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption
Loving rechristened Our Lady of Maytag by locals, due to its washing machine agitator-like exterior, the interiors merit just as much fanfare. Built well before the advent of social media, this midcentury-modern church is blessed with many Instagrammable moments.
5. Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall
According to Curbed SF reader Loop Seven, “It’s not ornate and likely considered unremarkable but I think it really captures late 1970s design.” Indeed. Opening at the start of 1980, the Hayes Valley behemoth, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Pietro Belluschi exemplifies modernist ’70s style. The addition of the Fratelli Ruffatti electro-pneumatic pipe organ, boasting 147 ranks, was added in 1984. It later underwent a major acoustic overhaul in 1992, resulting in the look we see today.
6. Grace Cathedral
Taking almost 40 years to finish, this circa-1964 gem atop Nob Hill is a celebration of French Gothic revival. Soaring ceilings, sweeping arches, tall stained glass windows, and more give this church a holier than thou look that brings tears to the eye. According to Grace Cathedral’s website, “The cruciform plan, twin towers, central fleche and polygonal apse are all French in origin, with the cathedrals of Amiens, Paris (Notre Dame), Beauvais and Chartres being principal influences.”
7. The Fairmont San Francisco Penthouse
There are many stunning rooms inside the grande dame of San Francisco hotels, but the penthouse is the best. Clocking in at 6,000 square feet, it rents for $18,000 a night. Created in the 1920s by American archeologist and art historian Arthur Upham Pope, the penthouse maintains the majority of its original charm—e.g., the vaulted billiards room that’s entirely covered in floor-to-ceiling Persian tiles—even though it underwent an extensive remodel by Alexandra Champalimaud, principal of Champalimaud Design, in 2010.
8. 450 Sutter Medical/Dental Building
“Next to the lead garden court in the Palace, 450 Sutter’s Mayan Deco facade and lobby are memorable, singular and spectacular,” says reader AngelusLiving. “Unfortunately, my dentist was in this building when I was a kid, so it was all a bitter-sweet experience when I visited.”
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