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Cool, Calm & Collected
By Allison McCarthy | Photo: Interior Photography by Suzanna Scott | Portrait by Colleen Donaldson | October 3, 2017
Clean and clutter-free was the key to designing this modern Mill Valley home.
Marin-based interior designer Elena Calabrese found her dream client: a single dad with two daughters who prefers a minimalist style, believes in a clutter-free household and has a soft spot for midcentury classics. So when she got the call to outfit his four-bedroom, three-bath Mill Valley home overlooking Mount Tamalpais, she came ready with ideas.
The goal was to create a streamlined modern interior with strong midcentury-inspired classics and a soft Northern California twist. Calabrese had to work with her client’s less-is-more leanings while adding in layers of texture and elements of warmth: usual trademarks of a family home. “The challenge was getting him to agree to decor elements,” she says. “He didn’t see the need for personal touches.”
She started with plush rugs to soften the bleached white oak floors, and chose a color palette that was both bright and soothing. Then, she brought in brass objects and plants for the living room, which provided a lived-in look to the space. “If a plant could be modern, it would be the fiddle-leaf fern,” she jokes. Calabrese finished the look with a Della Robbia gray sectional and Grotto cocktail table by Phillips Collection. A new Eames ivory leather and rosewood recliner provided the perfect finishing touch. “In the end, my client loved the way the room came together,” she says.
Calabrese and team added warmth to the neat and tidy all-white kitchen by adding warm walnut floating, and ceramic pieces from Heath, including dishes and a clock above the sink. Eames chairs and a Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams bar with raised diamond-parquet patterning and wood-brass door pulls bring the midcentury vibe to the dining area.
In the master bedroom, an Organic Modernism walnut wood credenza, animal hide rug and plush custom velvet chaise lounge from Modshop have a cozy, yet masculine, effect. At the foot of the Camerich bed—layered with rich patterns, textures and fabrics—sits a Four Hands cognac leather ottoman that completes the look.
Down the hall, the girls’ rooms present a stark contrast to the muted elegance of the master bedroom. The younger daughter likes pink and the older prefers purple, so Calabrese chose complementary warm and cool color palettes for their rooms, which mirror each other. And while the girls may outgrow these vibrant hues someday, pieces like the purple Eero Saarinen Womb chair will stand the test of time. “The Saarinen chair is the one piece my client already had that we let him keep,” she says.
They turned the extra bedroom into a tween lounge with custom touches: sunrise-inspired Calico wallpaper, rose-gold poufs and a rattan hanging chair from Selamat. “The wraparound windows make it feel almost treehouse-like,” Calabrese says. “It doesn’t feel too childish, and it’s even posh enough [for] dad to come in and watch a game.” Bright, modern and filled with personal touches, the polished-yet-homey space doesn’t take itself too seriously.