A bar by Brett Design, woven high-back bistro chairs and a simply patterned Holland & Sherry rug take the formal dining room into a relaxed territory.Concrete-look wallpaper lends a contemporary twist on tradition in the classic white kitchen.
When Nanette Gordon decided to switch career paths to pursue her passion for interior design, her own San Francisco home seemed like the logical place to start.
“It was a period of transition; many of my friends had homes they decorated fifteen, twenty years ago and wanted a refresh,” recalls Gordon, who had raised her family in the Jordan Park home in San Francisco. “I thought it would be great to show what could be done: to re-evaluate and edit for an updated lifestyle.”
Built in 1911, the 4,000-square-foot house – one of the older homes in San Francisco – boasted the hallmarks of traditional Edwardian design: soaring ceilings, meticulously detailed woodwork and grandiose staircases. Gordon purchased the residence in 1989 to find it decorated in an ornate Victorian style, with added elements that she felt strayed from the original character.
“When you walk in, you feel a grandness about it, even though it’s not huge,” remarks Gordon.
With the intention of returning to the home’s Edwardian roots, she took on a few structural updates, such as replacing the butler’s pantry with an open space connecting the kitchen and dining room, changing the fireplace and installing new flooring.
“My goal was to calm down the color palette, and accentuate the beautiful styles built in 1910, to get it back to the way it should have looked,” she recalls.
Twenty years later, with her children grown and a new design business thriving, Gordon found herself looking at a fresh start.
“The kids were out; I wanted to make the home somewhat feminine, welcoming, a beautiful place for people to visit,” she tells us. “It was a wonderful experience to completely submerge back in the industry.”Bookshelves filled with personal mementos line the family room. Sofa fabric by The Romo Group; table by Eero Saarinen; wallcovering by Paper Mills.An antique Chinese apothecary chest brings an eclectic touch to the entryway leading to a sweeping staircase, one of the hallmarks of Edwardian-era design.
Looking at the space with a ‘redux’ lens, Gordon downsized and thoroughly edited her existing possessions, keeping only “quality pieces that could be updated.” Next was the color palette, the most impactful change, updated from the yellows and oranges of the early 2000s, toward a palette of greys, blues and whites.
“Wallpaper has made such a big comeback,” notes the designer; “I use it as often as I can for fun and color.” In the powder room, the dramatic walls meet a whimsical bubble lamp; and in a bold move, a modern concrete-look wallpaper features in the kitchen. “It’s one of the most dramatic changes that people just love,” she comments. “It feels new, fun, yet ties into the traditional look.”Gordon’s love affair with patterned wallpaper infuses each bathroom with its own vivid character. Boldly oversized floral wallpaper by Osborne & Little meets dark wainscoting for an unabashedly theatrical powder room.Whimsical florals brighten up the deep green cabinetry in Gordon’s third floor home office; wall covering by The Romo Group.
Rather than replace, Gordon re-stained and reupholstered many of her existing pieces, opting for functional, family-friendly fabrics. The traditional living room was given a “playful and durable” facelift: a pair of formal antique couches in the living room were made casually inviting with indoor-outdoor fabric “that you can sit on in your wet bathing suit”; and a chair and pillows were covered in mohair from the Great Plains collection.
“I don’t want to put anything in the room that you would lose sleep over if someone spills a glass of red wine on it,” Gordon comments, adding, “It’s all practical but pretty.”
Many of the textiles and wallpapers were sourced from Holly Hunt and Holland & Sherry lines, and working with local showrooms, such as Coup D’Etat and Hewn, was instrumental in helping pull the space together.Modern headboard by The Romo Group, funky Anemone bedside lamp by Best & Lloyd and a Holland & Sherry Sakura rug bring modern presence to the sophisticated navy walled master suite.
All art in the home, she explains, was created by family friends, such as the Terpstra sisters, two local up-and-coming artists, whose paintings feature in the living and dining rooms. Throughout the home, personal touches – from travel mementos to her son’s rainbow Pez collection – infuse the space with warmth and character.
“I love an eclectic look, something that’s a surprise,” she says, adding that the home has become a favorite gathering spot for visitors passing through the city; “but I make sure not to force design, but to incorporate a lifestyle. Personalizing a space is very important.”
Photography Courtesy of Margaret Austin.
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