From tiger stripes to Paris flea-market finds — and a bedroom reminiscent of a Baskin-Robbins flavor! — a classic San Francisco pied-à-terre gets a personality-packed makeover thanks to hometown designers Martha Angus and Katie McCaffrey.
Amy Preiser: How does one sell a client on a turquoise, yellow, and tiger palette? That dining room is wild!
Katie McCaffrey: This couple is gutsy and fun-loving — and their main home is fairly neutral. So for a San Francisco weekend house designed for family gatherings, they were ready to be adventurous with color.
Martha Angus: Plus, they have three kids in their 20s and 30s. They wanted to appeal to the whole family's tastes and sense of design and make the house enjoyable for all.
The living room continues the playful scheme, yet the mantel is impressively uncluttered.
MA: The lovely wall paneling behind the mantel is original to the home. We wanted to highlight that feature as well as the sunburst mirror we hung above the fireplace. It's a vintage piece the owners found while browsing the Paris flea markets.
KM: These clients are real Francophiles, so before they left on their shopping trip, Martha, who used to live in France, gave them a list of the best places to check out. They returned with some serious treasures, and we made great use of them.
Are these homeowners typical of your San Francisco clients?
MA: As I'm sure you know, there has been a sea change in this city in the last few years. There is a lot of tech money here now, and we're seeing many clients in their 20s and 30s. As much as we love them, they tend to be less likely to want antiques in their homes. This couple appreciates antiques, so of course we took advantage.
The table in the breakfast nook looks like it has a good story to tell.
KM: It's an antique, too, and another of their Paris flea-market finds. It's probably an old butcher's table, and it has a cast-iron base with bulls' heads at both ends. We created a custom top for it in Carrara marble. When we did that, we very carefully calculated the overhang: There is enough room to hang a purse on those horns, but it's not so tight that you could scrape your knee.
MA: With that marble top, it wound up looking like a pastry-making table—it'd be perfect for keeping your mille-feuille dough cold as you prep it.
And a pastry table calls for pastry art!
MA: Behind the table is a print by Wayne Thiebaud, a San Francisco artist still going strong in his 90s. He's best known for his pastry artwork. And since this couple is in the food business, it felt very apropos to hang a print of cake and pie slices in the kitchen area.
KM: We upholstered the banquette in leather — the smooth texture makes it easy to slide into and out of the booth.
How else did you combine form and function?
MA: The sectional in the family room is also in leather. It holds up well to abuse; the homeowners wanted something durable that their millennial sons wouldn't be able to trash. For the same reason, the green chair in the family room is upholstered in an all-weather fabric from Perennials. It can stand up to anything.
KM: In the family room and kitchen, we used pillows in cottons and linens. They all go together and are meant to be thrown around, shared, and tossed on the floor.
MA: Some people worry about dogs and little kids doing damage, but in reality, it's adults with red wine that are the biggest concern. When everything is wipeable and scrubbable, you get to be stress-free. It makes you a better host.
The guest rooms are sensational — and unique.
KM: The couple wanted every bedroom to feel lively, and for each to have its own flavor. The green guest room is centered around a Cowtan & Tout malachite-patterned cotton velvet that I had been itching to use. The entire bed is upholstered in it, so you can see the pattern from anywhere in the room.
How would you describe the room's flavor?
KM: The walls definitely remind me of Baskin-Robbins's Daiquiri Ice!
You make good use of velvet in the space.
KM: This room faces east and gets a lot of sun in the morning, but it's darker in the afternoon. Velvet has a sheen that reflects the light.
MA: People think San Francisco has four seasons, but actually, the city rarely gets hot, so velvet makes a lot of sense here year-round.
Though it's not as easy to clean as leather or indoor-outdoor fabrics.
MA: It's true that velvet needs a bit more TLC. Take the dining room chairs — you can clean that tiger silk velvet, but the catch is that you have to plump up the mat of the fabric after you scrub it. I'd compare it to giving a dog a bath.
KM: Or, you might say, to bathing a tiger!
This story originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of CQ.