NOB HILL PIED-á-TERRE / San Francisco, California
We designed our Nob Hill apartment—one of fifteen in a superb 1920s Louis XVI-style building—with glamorous entertaining in mind.
Elsie de Wolfe consulted on the interiors when the building was first constructed, which explains the quality and authenticity of the period detailing. We configured the dining room from a small entrance hall and several closets; all trim was milled to replicate the original profiles found in the adjacent living room. The woodwork, enhanced with many coats of a deep chocolate Dutch lacquer, frames panels of handblown antique mirror; both reflect candlelight to create a dressy, luxurious, nighttime feel. We crafted an outsized, exotic, shell-encrusted lantern to hang over our Lauro dining table and activate the room’s tall volume.
When Anthony Hail, the legendary San Francisco decorator, lived in this apartment in the 1970s, he removed the original paneling above the chair rail in the main entertaining space. In this almost perfectly square living room, we replaced the paneling to restore the space’s original sense of rhythm and commissioned Karin Wikström to paint all the trim, including original plaster reliefs above the doors, with a faux bois finish that evokes bleached walnut. We then incorporated the antiqued mirror into the newly reconstructed boiserie. Both the furniture—including numerous antique French and Russian chairs, which can be easily moved across the bare floors—and the dark, smoky, neutral color scheme were selected to allow flowers, artwork, and accessories to vary its mood depending on the season, event, or even hour.
The primary bedroom is a cozy cocoon with walls, drapery, and canopy bed all upholstered in the same English wool; the interior of the bed is lined with creamy Thai silk. The primary dressing room replaced a former bedroom, correcting the typical lack of closet space in older apartments. We fashioned the 10-foot-tall shutters with panels from hand-carved teak Indian screens and lacquered them in a creamy white to provide a soft, filtered light as well as privacy.
The edited palette of browns and creams we used throughout the apartment continues into the guestroom. This disciplined use of color unifies the spaces, creating flow between rooms.