By Anh-Minh Le – You can’t judge a house by its shingled exterior. At least not the 1920 Pacific Heights dwelling that belongs to San Francisco interior designer Kendall Wilkinson’s clients: a hospitality/tech industry executive and his family, which includes two young sons. Just beyond the red front door is an interior that serves as both a complement and a counterpart to the classically rooted outward aesthetic.
The rear portion of the residence was reimagined with expanses of glass and steel, yielding a “modern box” that is unexpected, says Wilkinson, who working alongside William Duff Architects and Upscale Construction, introduced the contrasting style for good reason: to emphasize the sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Palace of Fine Arts.
The two-year renovation also involved sacrificing a room to create a double-height lounge that overlooks the iconic landmarks and a large backyard. The stunning space feels quintessentially California, exemplifying indoor/outdoor living while indulging the family’s love of entertaining and sports.
The house, which sits on a double lot, now totals 6,500 square feet, with five bedrooms and six bathrooms. A separate garage with a gym adds another 700 square feet.
Although a Barbara Vaughn photograph greets visitors soon after setting foot inside, there isn’t much art to speak of, at least not in the conventional sense. “The clients in this case treated the architecture, materials, and functional pieces as artwork,” says Wilkinson. In the powder room, she refers to a stretch lined in Oval, a dimensional tile by Heath Ceramics, as a “sculptural art wall.”
The existing staircase was replaced with an illuminated glass-and-steel concept. “I designed the stairs to be sculptural, like something you might see in a contemporary art museum, and designed the lighting to make it appear like it floated off the reclaimed wood wall,” explains architect William Duff.
On a landing, a freestanding wine racking system, also made of glass and steel, is an artful alternative to the typical cellar that’s tucked away somewhere; inspiration was culled from the way restaurants store and display bottles. The homeowners’ had voiced an appreciation for the interior schemes of local eateries Coqueta, Bar Agricole, and Twenty Five Lusk, where some combination of brick, timber, metal, and concrete conjures a look that is at once industrial and organic.
The home’s palette was influenced by its setting: the grays mimic the fog, the blues are reminiscent of the San Francisco Bay, the warm browns echo the surrounding trees, and the burnt oranges take their cue from the Golden Gate Bridge. In some spaces, like the family, living, and dining rooms, the hues all make an appearance. The latter, for instance, includes walls sheathed in Mexicana, a brick Benjamin Moore shade; built-ins and trim painted Wrought Iron, also by Benjamin Moore; a California Wood Studios live-edge table; and Wilkinson-designed chairs upholstered in Sahco’s Lavello linen in turquoise.
Elsewhere, Wilkinson exhibited a more singular color focus. The breakfast nook, for instance, is appointed with orange Kendall Wilkinson Design chairs flanking a Restoration Hardware table; aloft is a vintage buoy, also in a fiery tone, that has been recast as a one-of-a-kind pendant lamp. The spa-like master bedroom is awash in blues.
Throughout the abode, Wilkinson relied on a variety of textures to further add depth and interest. “When you don’t have a lot of color in a space,” says Wilkinson, “it’s incredibly important that you have different types of texture so it doesn’t look flat.” Case in point: In the lounge, the custom sectional is covered in Brentano’s Marimba, a crushed velvet characterized by vertical stripes. Nearby is a grouping of rattan furniture, part of Scandinavian Designs’ Swirl line (which also shows up in the mezzanine-level bar).
The interior’s brick and reclaimed wood surfaces are rough-hewn, while the plaster walls and steel-clad fireplace surround lend a smoothness. Consider this another paradox that successfully plays out in the home. And a reminder that old and new can indeed happily coexist.