Our Golden Gate Adventure

Twenty years ago, my husband Marshall and I found, fell in love with, and purchased a funky old white stucco house with a rusty red tile roof. We have been camping out in her rooms on top of a tiny island in San Francisco Bay ever since. As doting parents do, we made constant excuses for her countless deficiencies as if she were our favorite child who, despite her many shortcomings, could do no wrong.

Are We Nuts?

Completed in 1929, the house had an asymmetrical roof
Completed in 1929, the house had an asymmetrical roof.

Over those two decades, we have dreamt of resurrecting her ancient bones, updating her crusty insides and burnishing her charming 1920s Spanish Revival style façade. Since 1999, we saved our money and single-mindedly persevered copious challenges to realize our vision for the home we affectionately refer to as Golden Gate. More than a few times, our friends questioned our sanity!

Challenging Quirkiness

Golden Gate as it looks today with story poles in the background.
Golden Gate as it looks today with story poles in the background.

The years-long struggle to develop just the right plan to bring the home’s quirky footprint with its exaggerated and asymmetrical features up to date, while preserving its intrinsic charm, has been one of the consummate design challenges of my career.

Exaggerated Features

The exaggerated feature - a 25 foot tall brick turret.
The exaggerated feature - a 25 foot tall brick turret.

I created the exterior elevations and interior floor plans that we submitted with a 78-page document required by our local planning and building departments in the spring of 2018. It has taken until now – the fall of 2020 – to obtain approval of all the plans and construction drawings required to secure that most elusive yet essential document we must have to proceed.

The Elusive Building Permit

The turret is still standing but all the balconies, doors and windows need replacing.
The turret is still standing but all the balconies, doors and windows need replacing.

And now that we can finally feel the building permit in our grasp, the timing couldn’t be worse. The pandemic is raging, fires are burning, the economy is chaotic, and our country is divided. Despite all this, we have decided to continue our journey to renew Golden Gate. Sadly, we can no longer live in the declining, broken-down frame that we still enthusiastically affirm to be an architectural treasure that deserves to be saved.

On the Bay

View of Sausalito from the terrace.
View of Sausalito from the terrace.

Finally admitting that our home was no longer habitable, we rented an apartment a few minutes away, hired an engineer, excavator, contractor and sub-contractors to take this extended journey with us. We feel fortunate to contribute to our local community by providing jobs for talented people who are supporting families during this arduous time.

Golden Gate

The iconic Golden Gate Bridge.
The iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

At this moment, my office is stacked with empty boxes I have yet to fill to make our move eight minutes away. I am signing off for several weeks to pack and prepare for this exciting adventure of transforming our beloved Golden Gate into a beautiful new version of her iconic self. Stay tuned, keep safe and please vote as soon as you can! It has never been more important!

I hope you will open and enjoy this collage of Golden Gate images and music. It might just lift your spirits as it does mine.

For the love of special old houses,

Linda Applewhite's signature
Showing 19 comments
  • Joan Von Weien

    How wonderful your home is! A true labor of ❤️! That is a pristine spot with a great vibe!
    Thank you for sharing with us!

  • Bart York

    I feel your pain. My wife and and I completed a 4 year “renovation” in 2018. We lived in the bottom floor bedroom and cooked in the laundry room and on a deck. All while patiently dealing with a contractor that had “issues”. What’s a “budget”?

  • Zina Tibbetts

    ..uh WOW!

  • Margie Sullivan

    It’s beautiful! Can’t wait to see photos of progress and the finished project. You make everything look so warm and inviting.

  • Courtney Eskridge

    Precious Linda- It will be so thrilling to see all the lovely things you will do to your wonderful home. If you ever have even a small window of time, please send us a picture or any updates.We are all so happy for you!

  • Kimber Hart

    Linda, I love that you cherish this home so much that your doing the hard work instead of tearing it down and building new. Those views are stunning as is your home. I believe it’s in your Architectural interiors book..( isn’t it?)

  • Sherry Temple

    How wonderful that you are finally able to rejuvenate Golden Gate. The old girl still looks charming, and I really enjoyed seeing the old photos, but can’t wait to see the magic that I know you will perform.
    Please send photos as you progress, and congratulations for getting the permit!

  • Lynn

    No wonder you are overwhelmed – wow! But, it will be much easier for the workmen to do their jobs without having to worry about you living on site. I wish you well on this adventure, Linda – and cannot wait to hear about it! Your talent and creativity never fails to inspire and I can feel your anticipation for this new and close-to-your-heart project!

  • Jeff Lamoree

    Linda & Marshall,

    I love the photos of our old home. I don’t agree with descriptive term “funky”. It was a great home to grow up in. Lots of memories. Looking forward to seeing you vision come to fruition.

    All the best,
    Jeff Lamoree, now 75 years young.

  • Patricia

    We are with you on this journey…vaya con dios.

  • Maria

    Golden Gate is such a magical, one-of-a-kind home. I’m so pleased you are the one to be sprucing her up.


    Big challenges for your big talent! You will have an amazing book for publishing when you finish this and I for one can’t wait to see it all!
    Blessings! Marla

  • Ann

    WOW ! Gorgeous . I L O V E the Golden Gate Bridge,have since I first visited there in the ’70s,a forever cherished memory,and this video is beautiful,Linda. Thank you.

  • Barbara S Allen

    I love “before and after” pictures! I am awaiting more. Don’t over work in teh move. Thank you.

  • Kathleen Bonham

    My friend and I took one of your classes and bought your book years ago. She sent me this e-mail and I was delighted to see your new/old project. THRILLING to say the least….it will be a beauty but the setting with GG/Bridge is priceless. …..But….most of all ….renewing old memories and seeing progress in such difficult times comforts us all. “Good design repeats itself”….glad you are doing so.
    We look forward to this new journey.

  • Barbie

    Congratulations!!! Have fun, sit back and relax and enjoy building and decorating this wonderful, One Of A Kind Home…….”YOUR HOME”!! Can’t Wait to see the magazine pictures! Love and Hugs to you, and Marshall for all the many hours of hard work , patience, patience and patience you have given for this build job. With the two of you behind it we know it will be a Number One Win!!!

    Our doors are always open when you need a getaway, love, Barbie & George
    P.S. Loved the video.

  • Jenny Duffy

    I’m so happy and excited for you and yours. This adventure will have its challenges, but I have no doubt you will sail through and reach land, much like the magnificent weather vane on the top of the chimney in the original photo. How nice it would be if the installation of a vane, of such or similar beauty, was your crowning moment (along with champagne, of course) at the completion of your mighty and successful journey.
    Sail on silver girl
    Sail on by
    Your time has come to shine
    All your dreams are on their way
    See how they shine………….Paul Simon

  • Linda

    Linda, thanks for urging people to vote! Good luck with all the construction. Loved the video!

  • Kirby Kendrick

    What stories this charming house must have …and you & Marshall are adding a new exciting chapter!!!

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