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Contemporary Nob Hill duo asks $4.5 million

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Revamped classic cottages step into the 21st century

A square house covered in bronze-colored metal siding. Courtesy of Max Armour

Even the most hidebound stickler for the classics must admit that change, sometimes, is good.

Take the case of 44 Reed Street, two old Nob Hill homes (from 1937 and 1906, respectively) once described as mere cottages in an alley off of Washington Street, between Jones and Leavenworth.

Presumably they were fine homes in their day, but it’s hard to imagine that they were nearly as head-turning in their original forms as the subsequent experimental remodels.

44 Reed is a two-bed, two-and-a-half bath place that listed this week for $3.25 million (last sale: $1.13 million in 1998), presenting a pleasingly square front face “clad in varnished marine grade plywood and mahogany,” according to the ad.

(“Marine grade” just means it stands up to wet climates—which, yes, just might be handy in San Francisco.)

On the inside, some of the highlighted elements sound classically fancy—the “French limestone floors,” for example—while others, like the “blackened steel built-in desk” seem downright intimidating.

Indeed, many things about this Nob Hill alley hideaway turned brash landmark (in 2011 we dubbed it one of Nob Hill’s hidden treasures) appear stark and even confrontational, as much a modern art piece as a home, including its long, tunnel-vision living room terminating in a single large glass wall that blasts the interior space with light.

But it’s such a sleek and singular statement that it’s hard not to admire 44 Reed its own alien style and beauty.

And as it turns out, there are two of them of the market: 17 Reed is a slightly smaller two-bed, two-bath home across the street that adapts the same industrial Blade Runner-light meets SFMOMA vibe, including a mesh split skylight in the living room.

17 Reed listed this week for $1.25 million, after last selling for $480,000 in 2001. Realtor Max Armour says they’re offered separately, but if anybody wants to scoop up the pair for a combined $4.5 million they probably wouldn’t say no.