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Handle with Flair
By Anh-Minh Le | Photo: Interior Photography by Christopher Stark | Portrait by Tri Nguyen | January 25, 2018
A Hillsborough home proves that taking design risks definitely has its rewards.
When a couple—owners of a 6,600-square-foot early 1900s Craftsman in Hillsborough—initially approached Kassin Adelman and her San Francisco-based firm, IDF Studio, the husband and wife weren’t sure what their style was. But they were clear on one thing: They wanted a dining room with a wow factor. “Impactful, wow moment and kind of over-the-top were some of the adjectives that [the wife] and I exchanged during our first meeting,” recalls design director Jaclyn Christensen, adding, “They do a lot of entertaining, hosting family events as well as community events.” Ultimately, Christensen worked closely with the wife to transform the social hubs of the house: the dining and living rooms, along with the library.
The dining room’s generous size enabled Christensen to bring in a Century table that can accommodate 14, plus carve out adjunct seating areas—including a bench tucked into the bay window. The comfy perch cantilevers over the garden, a view evoked in the Osborne & Little florals found on the back of the dining side chairs and a single wall in the room. The rest of the walls are lined in a Phillip Jeffries grasscloth that adds texture and subtle color. A painting by Deborah Brown ties together the hues in here—the rosy palette of the cushions and pillows on the window bench, the blue velvet lounge chairs, the gold tones of the draperies fabricated by Design Support Co., and the lush greenery outside. (To help curate the art, Christensen enlisted James Bacchi of San Francisco’s ArtHaus gallery.)
In a portion of the house, the walls and ceilings are paneled with wood. “Some buyers might think, ‘We have to tear this all down,’ but [our clients] embraced it and wanted to accentuate it,” says Christensen. In the wood-clad library, the jumping-off point for the design scheme was the floral that now covers a pair of Century lounge chairs. “[The client] told me, ‘I love this fabric; this has to be in my life.’ It’s a Ralph Lauren fabric that we very tediously placed on the chairs.” They are joined by a Coup D’Etat sofa upholstered in a sumptuous burnt-orange velvet by Pindler. And since Christensen reasons that no library is complete without a leather wingback, this one is appointed with a Timothy Oulton version.
Since it is situated between the library and dining room, colors from the two spaces were carried into the living room. There’s the clients’ rug, which is punctuated by shades of blue and orange. A Hickory Chair sectional features two blue linens: solid on the seat and herringbone on the body. By the window, chairs sheathed in rusty red plaid wool flank an elegant game table. Amid all the carefully considered design choices, the pièce de résistance is the large-scale moth art by Timothy Oulton that surmounts a wall of books—all blue books for dramatic effect. (Christensen sourced the tomes from the Books By The Foot website.)
While a designer’s keen eye can allow them to envision the successful mix of seemingly disparate patterns and pigments, that’s not always the case for homeowners. “There was a lot of boundary-pushing,” says Christensen of the project, recounting how she piled the dining table with an array of textiles: velvets, linens, florals, plaids, herringbones. “There was a lot happening and, out of context, it could look totally crazy,” she continues. “There were definitely moments when [the client] said, ‘OK, I’m just going to trust you.’ And I was like, It’s going to be awesome—and it is.”