The developer of this remodeled Russian Hill Victorian left the bones of the late-1800s home intact but made the inside extremely modern. Interior designer Chloe Redmond Warner’s clients, the art-collecting couple who bought the home, loved the loft-like aspects of it but found the surfaces a bit too sleek, hard and shiny. “There was a lot of ebonized wood and marble,” says Warner. “We wanted to make a bridge between the old and the new.”
By adding color, pattern and texture, Warner unified the two time periods of this classic San Francisco residence. Warner found herself replacing brand new surfaces and fixtures with equally new, but different surfaces and fixtures that fit her clients’ tastes. Not wanting to see an unused Arclinea kitchen head off to a landfill, she did what any responsible design citizen would do: She recycled. “It would be a total waste to throw away cabinets and countertops that had just been installed.” She ways. “We were able to salvage countertops and fixtures and give them back to the developer to reuse. When it came to the kitchen cabinets and appliances, we simply removed them and returned them to Arclinea for a credit toward new stainless steel cabinets.”
The clients did not want wallpaper, one of the hallmarks of Warner’s portfolio, so the designer chose other wall treatments to bring the space to life. In the guest bathroom, which happens to be one of her favorite areas of the house, Warner covered the entire space with panels of matte resin in a powdery finish. In the upstairs bathroom, she selected a lilac-colored onyx for its unusual hue and dramatic marbling. “I had never seen this material before and neither had the suppliers, “she says. “We bought nearly all of it right then and there at a marble yard.” The new stainless steel kitchen has backsplash of travertine tiles running from counter to ceiling, and the adjacent living room is filled with silk rugs and nubby tweed upholstery. But perhaps the single biggest transformative element was Warner’s idea to swap out the ebonized wood floor with a herringbone-patterned walnut floor.
“At first, they were going to try to live with it,” says Warner. “But after a while, the maintenance required by an ebonized floor got to them.” (The couple has to Airedale terriers.) “We ended up putting in a lighter wood floor with a herringbone patter, and it completely brought the place to life. It’s the kind of forgiving, textured surface where a few paw prints aren’t going to show.”
The floor is just one example of how Warner brought pattern and warmth to the rooms. Modern chairs, such as the tweed-covered Saarinen Egg Chair in the living room and a contemporary bench covered in light blue leather upholstery, wear fabrics normally found on traditional furniture. Every move Warner made was about softening the edges and turning down the volume for a serene, peaceful environment. The home’s stark white walls are now covered in muted colors, and the stairs once unadorned wood, now have a neutral orange runner.
“I really love the dynamic of the old and new,” says Warner. “We tried to keep the best of the old and gently insert the new.” In the bedroom, Warner replaced the small, hinged doors on a bathroom and closet with larger sliding panels. “This allowed us to add some architectural interest to an otherwise plain square room,” she says. The oversize sliders and the wall behind them become an enormous sculptural headboard. The make the point, she painted the sliders a light lilac color, pulling from the tones of the onyx in the bathroom beyond. “I looked at the bones of what had been there before and tried to add continuity between the original house and the newly remodeled elements,” Warner says. “In the process, we ended up touching and changing almost every wall in the house.”