After sheltering-in-place for months, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people value hearth and home more than ever before. That’s certainly the case for a professional couple with two young sons who relocated from a small San Francisco apartment to a spacious four-bedroom English country abode on a large lot in Kentfield.
“The owners are loving staying home,” says interior designer Julie Dalton, who worked closely with architect, Barbara Chambers, of Chambers and Chambers, on a massive, multi-year renovation to update the dwelling. “During this time, their home is more than their home. It’s a classroom, a restaurant, a park, a playroom, a movie theater and many other things.”
Dalton says the project offers a number of good examples about how to create a personal interior that keeps things fresh and interesting – even during an extended quarantine. Much of that is due to her clients. “They were on board for pretty much anything,” Dalton says. “These clients have a very eclectic style, and they love color and texture.”
Indeed, they had no qualms about painting the living room’s once dark taupe wall moldings and ceiling beams in a sage green hue. Along the far wall, a new white marble Victorian Corbel fireplace from Chesneys creates a striking focal point for matching blue velvet sofas by George Smith and tufted green leather chairs atop a 1900s-era wool rug from 1st Dibs. “They wanted this space to be a dark and moody experience,” Dalton says.
The sense of formality is echoed in the formal dining room, where Dalton covered an entire wall with a colorful mural of a blue heron in a lush tropical setting. The result is a statement piece and instant conversation starter. “You have to look at it for a long time during quarantine, so it might as well be interesting,” Dalton explains, noting that it’s reflected in the glossy blue ceiling.
The ceiling also reflects the light from a pair of antique brass lanterns over the late nineteenth century dining table. Dalton paired the antique with green velvet Captain’s chairs with nail head trim with a set of traditional wood side chairs — family heirlooms — that Dalton had reupholstered in a luxurious green mohair. “They don’t like to waste, so we upcycled some of their existing pieces,” she says, noting that they rescued the side chairs from a dumpster.
The palette is lighter and brighter in the great room overlooking the lush back yard. In the open kitchen painted white cabinetry, Calacatta Borghini marble countertops and white subway tile juxtapose the dark hardwood flooring and island, which has been painted in Hague Blue by Farrow & Ball – the same shade as the dining room ceiling. “It really makes the marble pop,” Dalton says, noting that she used the same combination in the pantry.
Antique brass is another constant throughout the home. The farmhouse style sink has brass hardware that coordinates with the antique brass lanterns over the island and the custom stainless-steel hood with brass straps from Berlin Food & Lab Equipment. Nearby, a brass chandelier illuminates a round farmhouse-style table surrounded by simple wooden chairs.
A few steps away, a plush, slipcovered white sectional sofa creates a casual, comfortable spot for the family to gather and binge their favorite shows. Displayed prominently on the wall, a large fine art photograph by Reinhard Gorner is one of several pieces throughout the house sourced by Stephanie Breitbard, of Simon Breitbard Fine Arts. “Art is very personal, so it’s a process,” Dalton says. “This one was perfect for the room.”
Dalton carried the palette of greens and blues throughout the interior. For example, when the owners asked the designer to find a place for a pair of vintage side tables that had seen better days, Dalton collaborated with the craftsmen at Revitaliste, who painted them in a high-gloss Bottle Green from Fine Paints of Europe.
The emerald hue also adorns a Chinese garden bench in the master bathroom, which features Carrara marble wall and floor tile – an elegant backdrop for a burnished zinc tub from Waterworks. “It’s their tranquil place to go without kids,” Dalton says, noting that there’s a lock on the door. “The idea was to make this bathroom feel like it was in an old English country house.”
A glossy green floor tile laid in a herringbone pattern pops against the white walls, ceramic subway wall tile and marble sink in an upstairs bathroom. “Even though each room is different, it’s cohesive,” Dalton says.
As might be expected during an extended stay-at-home order, the owners are equally thrilled with their expansive yard by Christian Douglas Design. In addition to luxe amenities such as a jumbo-sized swimming pool and a detached guest house, the property features 28 fruit trees, a chicken coop and a bountiful garden filled with cabbage, lettuce and other vegetables.
“This is a real sanctuary with lots of spaces that keep things fresh and interesting,” Dalton says. “We are so happy to have been able to help them have a beautiful space to call home.”
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Tate Gunnerson is a Chicago-based freelance journalist with an equal appreciation for natural beauty and good design. He is a passionate supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the National Kidney Foundation.