Decorating with Bright Colors

Bright colors are having their day and are no longer relegated only to kids’ rooms. Bring your home to life with cheerful and sophisticated hues straight out of the crayon box. With a little consideration and planning, you’ll create maximum impact that’s seriously grown up.

When decorating with bright colors, you first need to decide which neutral you want to pair with your color. By choosing a neutral, you can keep those brights in check. Consider what you want the focal point of the room to be and design the rest of the room around it. What kind of impact do you want to make? If it’s bold walls, keep the furniture neutral. Don’t forget to test your bright paint swatches before you commit to a specific shade. They almost always look different on the wall than on the swatch.

Pair bright accessories with some seriously chic neutrals. Gray walls, trim, and flooring provide a sophisticated backdrop for a showstopper rug in a bold graphic style. The coordinating orchids and purple pillows repeat the color found in the rug to make the room feel pulled together and intentional.

An all-white room is the perfect neutral foundation to make bright colors pop. Consider all the different textures and finishes of white to keep the room from falling flat. Add one or two colors at a time to make the overall look cohesive.

With bright colors, consider what your focal point is going to be to keep the room from becoming an eyesore. Allow your eye to rest by limiting your color palette to two or three colors plus a neutral. The green sofa is a delightfully unexpected pop of color, but it stays grounded with the pale walls and otherwise neutral furniture.

Bright turquoise provides an unexpected and happy pop of color painted on a built-in shelving unit. This look is all about high contrast and allows the items on display to shine. Consider what other elements you can use in your vignette that will provide contrast, visual interest, and color harmony.

Pops of bright color can be the perfect unexpected surprise and add a lot of personality. This chartreuse pocket door completely changes the tone of an otherwise monochromatic kitchen with industrial undertones. It’s a cheerful little detail that makes all the difference.



Interior Designers Institute was founded in 1984 and is one of the few Interior Design Schools in California offering an Avocational Certificate Course, Associate of Arts Degree in Interior Design, Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interior Design, and Master of Interior Architecture Degree and is nationally accredited and also accredited by CIDA, Council for Interior Design Accreditation.

10 Playroom Ideas That Are As Cool As They Are Kid-Friendly

Of all the rooms in your home, a playroom is one where function often trumps form. Your child probably doesn’t care about matching color schemes or Scandi-inspired decor, so the playroom in your house is often an afterthought. But here’s the good news: This fun room doesn’t have to be wasted space. Whether you have a room dedicated to toys and play or you section off part of another living space, a cool playroom is pretty easy to achieve.

Click through to see some of our favorite design-friendly playroom ideas.

01 Add a Chalkboard

This minimalist playroom from Studio McGee has a lot to love, but the oversized chalkboard is by far the focal point of the space. Not only is a rustic chalkboard attractive, but it also provides a great place for kids to draw and write without ruining your walls.

02 Opt for Function and Form

Your playroom is by far the most fun room in your house (that’s literally what it’s for, right?), but that doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful too. If you have to relegate your kid’s toys to a wall in a shared common space, opt for furniture that can double as storage, like this neutral high chair. Pared-down pieces that can blend easily with the rest of your decor work best in shared spaces.

03 Go Bold With Color

If you love bright neons but haven’t really experimented with bold colors throughout your house, a playroom is a great place to start. Try weaving in some of those attention-grabbing colors you stray from elsewhere in your home.

04 Think Outside the Bookcase

The best playrooms are the ones that have a bit of imagination behind them. Sure, opting for traditional furniture like bookcases and couches is easy, but consider something a little more special (like this tree bookshelf) or opt for floor pillows over a traditional couch. A touch of creativity can take your playroom from “a room with toys” to your kid’s favorite room.

05 Invest in Affordable Storage

Revamping your child’s playroom doesn’t have to be an expensive overhaul. We love using cheap wicker baskets to sort toys and art supplies, as well as adding a few picture ledges to show off your kid’s favorite books.

06 Create a Home Gym

This amazing playroom idea from Inspired to Revamp is definitely one of the most ambitious ideas on our list. An indoor climbing wall is one of the most creative ideas we’ve seen anywhere—not only does it give your kids a place to burn off energy, but it has such a small footprint that you can fit it in nearly any home.

07 Think About the Floor

Though adults tend to prefer a nice, comfortable couch over sitting on the ground, children love climbing and rolling around. Invest in some floor pillows and mats that can be easily tossed in a closet when not in use. This is the perfect go-to for sleepovers and movie nights.

08 Add Some Indoor Swings

What’s better than going to the park? Swinging in your own playroom, rain or shine. If you have the space, we love the idea of adding a few swings or an indoor bubble chair to your playroom to give it a bit more personality and take it to the next level.

09 Create an Art Space

Inspire your child’s creative side by setting up their own art studio. Gather all of the must-have supplies and create bins for easy access to markers, crayons, and paper. Focus on easy-to-clean storage like plastic bins, set up a table and chairs, and voila—instant artist’s studio.

10 Try Wall Art

Create a space as unique and individual as your child by opting for a little bit of wall art. Whether you create a playhouse out of paint or work with your child to paint a beautiful mural of their favorite things, adding a bit of wall art is a great way to create a beautiful and kid-friendly space.



Interior Designers Institute was founded in 1984 and is one of the few Interior Design Schools in California offering an Avocational Certificate Course, Associate of Arts Degree in Interior Design, Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interior Design, and Master of Interior Architecture Degree and is nationally accredited and also accredited by CIDA, Council for Interior Design Accreditation.


COVID-19 did its best to surprise us at every turn, but one thing that’s unsurprising about a post-COVID-19 world? An almost universally felt (and near insatiable desire) to travel anywhere outside of city limits. Dreams of luxury vacations have been feeding wanderlust spirits for over a year and a half, and now they’re finally being set loose. Luckily, the luxury hotel industry didn’t let up, entering the new year with a slew of high-end debuts. Plan to destress, month-by-month, as you watch each of these new hotels you have to visit in 2022 open its doors.

Image Credit: Aman


New York’s iconic Crown Building will reopen its doors as Aman, New York. The new hotel boasts 85 elegant suites and 20 private exclusive residences, including a five-story, unique penthouse. It’s been designed by the celebrated architect and longtime Aman collaborator Jean-Micheal Gathy, who has remained true to the Crown’s original architecture while paying homage to the brand’s Asian roots. Guests can access incomparable facilities ranging from three fine dining options, including Nama, the signature venue for Omakase Washoku cuisine; Arva, a principal Italian restaurant offering all-day dining services; and the Wine Library which is the hotel’s premier wine cellar.

Image Credit: The Fifth Avenue Hotel


Another architecturally significant addition to this list (and another Big Apple addition), the new Fifth Avenue Hotel is a playfully restored historic building which finds a way to fit into the increasingly contemporary Midtown. The hotel’s 153 rooms, decorated vividly in jewel tones by Martin Brudnizki Design Studio, are spread out over two connected structures—the original McKim, Mead & White mansion and a 24-story modern tower. A 5000-square-feet ballroom with grand 22-feet ceilings, a 2500-square-feet private dining space and the multi-level Signature restaurant accompany the guest rooms. Guests can also access a two-story authentic library, study, fitness center, and an outdoor terrace with a breathtaking view of New York City.

Image Credit: One&Only


The One&Only, Aesthesis is scheduled to open its doors to guests sometime in 2022 although an exact date hasn’t been released yet. The hotel is being developed on a 21-hectare prime beachfront property, appealingly surrounded by a forest reserve, with architecture that reflects mid-century principles. Guests can enjoy the iconic Athenian Riviera and a view of the locale’s crystal sea while being surrounded by the elegance of modern Greece. The hotel group has partnered with the wellness brand Chenot to create Chenot Spa at One&Only Aesthesis. The state-of-the-art fitness center further establishes the hotel as a premier resort for well-being.

Image Credit: Etéreo


The foundation of this new Mexican hotel was laid in a lush mangrove forest that stretches beside a white-sand beach. With 75 suites and studios, all with breathtaking ocean views, Etéreo will be one of the best ways to experience Mexico’s renowned Riviera Maya when it opens in December 2021. All suites and studios are accommodated with floor-to-ceiling windows, butler service, a private terrace, and plunge pools, making it the perfect place to relax and admire lush surroundings.

Image Credit: Montage Big Sky


Montage Big Sky, the majestic mountain getaway, will be debuting mid-December 2021 to the tune of $400 million. The resort consists of 150 suites and guest rooms and 39 residences. Huge wooden frames and stone-accented surfaces throughout the hotel provide you with an elevated midwestern experience. An ideal location for both outdoor sports enthusiasts and nature admirers, the resort offers 5,800 skiable acres and a mountain paradise for adventurers wishing to visit Montana and Yellowstone National Park.

Image Credit: Rosewood


Inspired by the nearby coral reefs, Rosewood Doha Hotel & Resort is going to be one of Qatar’s finest architectural landmarks. Housed within two striking towers are 185 guest rooms and suites, along with 173 serviced apartments and 300 residences. The hotel offers a dynamic range of cuisine with the opportunity to dine in eight innovative locations including the cigar lounge, bistro, coffee deli, lifestyle entertainment lounge, and three specialty restaurants. Sleek interiors and state-of-the-art technology bring this resort to new levels of sophistication.

Image Credit: The Reykjavik EDITION


One of the few true five-star hotels in Reykjavik, The Reykjavik EDITION entered the luxury hotel market in November 2021. The hotel’s uniqueness lies in the ebony facade of its blackened Shou sugi ban timber, burnt using a traditional Japanese technique, and its dark grey steel frames which depict Iceland’s dramatic lava landscape. The urban hub houses 253 rooms, outstanding bars, a nightclub, a signature Icelandic restaurant, spa, and gym. The room’s floor-to-ceiling windows frame the scenic views of this up-and-coming capitol.


Nobu Hotel and Restaurant will open in the autumn of 2022 in Marrakech, Morocco, as announced by founders Nobu Matsuhisa, Robert De Niro, and Meir Teper. The 71 guest rooms and suites have been designed with an emphasis on combining Marrakech’s rich heritage with contemporary comfort. The hotel is of course home to some new additions to Nobu’s portfolio of renowned dining venues, as well as a 2000 sq. ft. spa, indoor and outdoor pools and a private event space.

Image Credit: The Aurum


Brought to you by Steve Gold, The Aurum is a re-envisioned boutique luxury hotel and wellness destination spanning across 131 acres of mountainside. The hotel revolves around the Roman Hammam and Spa, a relaxing bathing experience that has never been seen in North American spa hotels until now. Featuring a style inspired by ancient Roman culture, the hotel houses 12 bungalows with private gardens each with jaw-dropping views of the Catskill mountains. When it comes to cuisine, the hotel promotes a holistic farm-to-eatery diet.


Airelles Château de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle is a first-of-its-kind hotel, located within the Château de Versailles – the royal residence of the old French monarchy. The 5-star hotel has 14 grand suites within a grandiose guest house originally built in the 1680s. Each suite is decorated in a style evocative of 17th-century design with a mirage of antiques and an abundance of floral motifs. The hotel indulges its guests at the Valmont spa and is home to mouth-watering delicacies prepared by renowned French chef, Alain Ducasse.

Image Credit: Elsa Young Photography


Kisawa is an all-in-one eco-retreat located in the middle of a 300-hectare sanctuary, surrounded by an expanse of forest, dunes and beach. Showcasing minimalist decor with a modern touch, it offers 12 bungalows, each with a private beach, pool, outdoor kitchen, and a day area with an open-air deck. The bungalows have been built using innovative 3D sand-printing technology, commissioned specifically for this project to allow them to blend into the landscape and minimize their environmental impact. Your stay at any of the residences comes accompanied with a dedicated housekeeper and personal chef to tend to your every need.

Image Credit: Mandarin Oriental Ritz


Located in Madrid’s famous Golden Triangle of Art, Mandarin Oriental Ritz is a historic five-star Belle époque hotel by the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. Opened after three years of extensive restoration, the hotel highlights 100 elegant rooms and 53 suites with natural light and classic-contemporary design. The suites are decorated with unique materials and classic designs that go best with their eye-catching structure. The hotel features a deluxe wellness center, steam room, indoor swimming pool, and a vitality pool. It is home to five restaurants and bars, with the cuisine prepared by the famous chef Quique Dacosta.

Image Credit: The Peninsula London


Overlooking Hyde Park Corner and the Wellington Arch, the Peninsula London is set to be one of the most prestigious on the London hotel scene. This 5-star hotel, expected to be inaugurated in early 2023, will provide the finest experience of British culture, art, and cuisine with renowned hospitality. It will feature 190 guest rooms and suites, and a colonnaded courtyard with architecture reflecting the heritage of Belgravia. The hotel’s unique peninsula spa will provide revitalizing beauty treatments to its guests. An array of cultures are represented in the cuisine on offer, incorporating Malay, Chinese, Indian Nyonya, and Srilankan street food for an experience like no other.

Image Credit: Four Seasons


Four Seasons New Orleans is set in an iconic 34-story tower designed by the modernist architect Edward Durell Stone. The hotel’s rooms consist of floor-to-ceiling windows that provide a serene view of the pristine Mississippi River, making it a gateway to access the vibrant culture of Cresent City. With the 17th floor of the hotel boasting presidential suites which contain a private office, gym and scenic views, this Four Seasons lives up to its highly respected name.

Image Credit: San Domenico Palace


San Domenico Palace lies above Mount Etna, providing a breathtaking panoramic view in every direction. Finished with herringbone floors and marble bathrooms, the 111 rooms and suites provide a polished Italian finesse, whilst the principal rooms open onto sprawling terraces complete with a personal plunge pool and a heavenly view of the mountain, the Ionian sea and the ancient greek theatre. It is built on the site of the 14th-century Dominican convent, now enhanced with lush gardens designed by Italian landscape architect Marco Bay.

Image Credit: Six Senses Shaharut


Integrated onto the cliffside, the Six Senses Shaharut opened in August this year, located in the southern region of the enchanting Negev Desert in Israel. Choose between an enviable suite facing the ever-changing colors of the Edom Mountains and the resort’s private reserves consisting of three-bedroom retreats, a pool and access to the Six-Senses Spa. Understated and earthy textures flow throughout the space offering a nod to the desert landscape and the country’s heritage creating the ultimate backdrop for relaxation.


Situated in the iconic Old War Office, the latest Raffles flagship hotel is one that is steeped in history. Every effort has been made to preserve the architectural integrity of the grade II listed building and the result is magnificent. Transformed into 50 suites and 85 private residences, the hotel holds a ballroom, spa and no fewer than nine restaurants and bars in Raffles’ signature lavish style.

Image Credit: A Banyan Tree Escape


Having established a no walls, no doors policy, the Banyan Tree Escape offers guests a unique “naked experience” with the surrounding Balinese jungle. Each with their own mesmerizing views over Bali’s seven peaks, the hotel’s 16 villas are accompanied with private pools and open decks to allow unobstructed access to the melodies of the Ayung River. Providing a full immersion in nature without compromising on luxury, the hotel offers a truly unique experience. Inspired by local techniques and designed to reconnect you to nature, the Toja Spa affords an array of treatments performed with organic ingredients grown on the hotel’s on-site farm. A range of traditional experiences are also available for guests who want to delve into the Buhan culture. Purification ceremonies with local priests are designed to take you on a journey of enlightenment or enjoy a hike at sunrise and have your breakfast in “heaven” atop sacred Mt. Batur.

Image Credit: &Beyond


Promising the “ultimate in exclusivity,” the Grumeti Serengeti River Lodge is set in the secluded western reaches of the Park increasing your chances for a unique glimpse at the Big 5. Having been renovated over the last year the reopening of this remote oasis offers ten luxurious suites, complete with private plunge pools, in-room massages and views of the hippo inhabited river. With the closest accommodation a far distance away, you are more likely to catch sight of a pride of lions than any fellow travelers on the twice-daily game drives included in this luxury experience.

Image Credit: Janu


Janu, meaning “soul” in Sanskrit, is the highly anticipated sister brand to the Aman, aiming to provide profound relaxation, and restore lasting equilibrium for their guests. The Janu Montenegro will be the first of the brand to open, rooted in energy and exploration, the hotel hopes to encourage guests to stretch their boundaries and embrace the local environment. With opportunities for boat days and scuba diving, Janu promises both ultimate relaxation and vitality.

By Jonathan Holmes, Founder & CEO



Interior Designers Institute was founded in 1984 and is one of the few Interior Design Schools in California offering an Avocational Certificate Course, Associate of Arts Degree in Interior Design, Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interior Design, and Master of Interior Architecture Degree and is nationally accredited and also accredited by CIDA, Council for Interior Design Accreditation.

Property Brother Jonathan Scott & Zooey Deschanel Offer Sneak Peek of Newly Renovated Home

It’s official: The renovation on Jonathan Scott and Zooey Deschanel’s “dream home” is finally complete. And the pics are perfection.

The residence—which they dubbed “Park House”— was a “beautiful home with a lot of history,” according to the Property Brothers star. But with a few modern updates, Scott turned it into a Pinterest-worthy space for his family.

While discussing their new home, Deschanel admitted that it was love at first sight. “As soon as we pulled into the driveway, we knew this house was special,” she said in the issue. Scott added, “The abundant trees on the property make it the perfect place for kids— and maybe a kid at heart named Drew—to climb and play, and for us to watch them as we sit in the shade.”

The renovation took two years to complete due to the pandemic, supply chain and other issues. “It was really hands-on for both of us,” Deschanel admitted. “Many Saturdays, we sat searching for the right details to add to this home.” This included everything from colorful wallpaper to modern fixtures. She continued, “This is a house that suits our tastes and needs, aesthetically and functionally. Jonathan is so amazing at figuring that out. He’s been doing it for his clients for so long, and now he’s done that for us and our family.”

The vertical surface is coated with the iconic G

One of Deschanel’s requests included adding a solarium with a glass ceiling, olive trees and a water feature. So, Scott transformed an ordinary porch into a natural light sanctuary. “Jonathan knows whether an idea is practical or not,” the actress said. “And he knew just how to turn this patio on the asymmetrical side of the house into a solarium.” It has become Scott’s “favorite room in the whole house.”

To celebrate their new home, Scott gifted a grand piano to Deschanel. “One of my favorite things is coming home to Zooey playing music,” he said.

The TV personality also used nothing but the best in terms of technology. “It still looks like it could be a 100-year-old home, but it’s now LEED-certified and will end up using less grid energy than a small apartment,” he explained. “This isn’t just a smart house. It’s a genius one.”

By Greta Heggeness 


Interior Designers Institute was founded in 1984 and is one of the few Interior Design Schools in California offering an Avocational Certificate Course, Associate of Arts Degree in Interior Design, Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interior Design, and Master of Interior Architecture Degree and is nationally accredited and also accredited by CIDA, Council for Interior Design Accreditation.

Godiva goes to Dubai

Godiva Chocolatier’s new flagship at the Mirdif City Centre Mall in Dubai was designed by The First Ferry, an international premium design house that specializes in luxury interior designs.

The plush interiors of the store use the enlarged logo of Lady Godiva as a life-size installation as their starting point.

The circular faux ceiling hovering over the reception offers a visual direction for the customer.

The vertical surface is coated with the iconic Godiva gold tiles, which adds to the theme’s richness.

The interior of the store features subtle shades of white and gold trimmings, with the chocolate cases adding a dash of color.

 A free-flowing design blends superbly with the spirit of the brand.

The store displays meticulous space planning to create a quintessential visual experience.



Interior Designers Institute was founded in 1984 and is one of the few Interior Design Schools in California offering an Avocational Certificate Course, Associate of Arts Degree in Interior Design, Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interior Design, and Master of Interior Architecture Degree and is nationally accredited and also accredited by CIDA, Council for Interior Design Accreditation.

Inside The Mansions of HBO’s ‘Gilded Age’ with Set Decorator Regina Graves

Graves filled scores of opulent rooms with furniture and treasures to tell the story of how new money remade New York society. BY LAURA HINE.

HBO’s late-19th-century drama The Gilded Age is largely set within the well-appointed homes of New York’s high society. Here, guests congregate in the parlor of two main characters, Bertha and George Russell. The architect of the Russell house, Stanford White (portrayed by John Sanders), is seen second from right. All photos by Alison Cohen Rosa/HBO

As The Gilded Age, the lavishly designed HBO series about New York in the 1880s, opens in Central Park, grazing lambs scatter as carriage after carriage rumbles by loaded with imported furnishings and statues. These European treasures are on their way to fill the Fifth Avenue mansion of nouveaux riche couple Bertha and George Russell (played by actors Carrie Coon and Morgan Spector).

The scene signals the gorgeous architecture and interiors to come. And, as every period-drama viewer knows, a house and its decor tell you everything about the people who live there.

The home of the Russells (played by Carrie Coon and Morgan Spector) is decorated with French and Italian furniture. “The 19th-century French inlaid Louis XV–style writing desk is the perfect choice for Bertha to write all her correspondence on,” Graves notes. “The fabulous draperies are Palazzo Pamphily Stripe by Scalamandré.”

A team led by production designer Bob Shaw and set decorator Regina Graves devised the show’s many sets, including the Russells’ mansion, which flaunts their new money, and the older neighboring brownstone inhabited by sisters Agnes van Rhijn (Christine Baranski) and Ada Brook (Cynthia Nixon), which bespeaks their established wealth and status.

Graves, who studied to be an interior designer, landed at New York City’s largest prop house straight out of college. She describes her job as similar to that of a designer: She finds the furniture, light fixtures, drapery, art, decorative objects, wallpaper, hardware and flooring for each room.

Mrs. Russell’s bedroom is inspired by real-life socialite Alva Vanderbilt’s bedroom in her Newport mansion, Marble House. The French Louis XV bed was painted and reupholstered in salmon-pink velvet; the custom wall covering, draperies and bedding are all Italian silk.

Graves and the rest of the production team worked with the director to craft environments with layers of life that visually tell each character’s story. They scoured the Internet, as well as antique stores and prop houses, for Victorian pieces.

“There was a certain look that we had to re-create,” Graves says, “especially with the show’s old-money-versus-new-money storyline.” In the Russell mansion, newly designed by Stanford White (the real-life 19th-century architect is played here by John Sanders), everything is grand, large and imported from Europe. Mrs. Russell is trying to impress, or at least entice, New York society with a home boasting acres of marble, hundreds of yards of fabric and elaborate crystal chandeliers.

The Russells’ drawing room includes a Louis XV canapé, side chair and fauteuil upholstered in what Graves describes as a “ginger bronze-silk,” as well as a French Aubusson parlor set. “A beautiful, rich French Aubusson rug anchors the room,” she adds.

Across the street from the Russells, inside the brownstone of Agnes van Rhijn (Christine Baranski), the parlor is decorated with stately details, like richly carved wood. Here Mrs. van Rhijn, far left, holds court with, from left, Oscar Van Rhijn (Blake Ritson), Ada Brook (Cynthia Nixon) and Marian Brook (Louisa Jacobson).

The established Mrs. van Rhijn doesn’t need to impress. Her station is assured, and her brownstone reflects its older heritage. “We decided to wallpaper and dress the rooms in richer colors,” says Graves. “The house is furnished in the traditional American Victorian-era style, with heavily carved ornate furniture covered in damasks, velvets, needlepoint and brocades.”

In the van Rhijn parlor, “the five-piece walnut-and-ebony Herter Brothers–style set was reupholstered in an Italian floral lampas fabric,” she continues. “The centerpiece of the room is an American Empire mahogany table surrounded by four matching chairs of the same period. The silk draperies are by Scalamandré.”

When asked how many rooms she devised over the almost two years she worked on the production, Graves laughs. “So many, I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said over 100.” That includes rooms on location in historic mansions like Lyndhurst, in Tarrytown, New York; and the Breakers, Chateau-sur-Mer and the Elms, all in Newport, Rhode Island.

A house in Troy, New York, stands in for the Brooklyn residence of the well-off Scott family. Arthur Scott (John Douglas Thompson) and his daughter, Peggy (Denée Benton), sit on carved-oak chairs around a damask-covered dining table. The stained-glass windows and china cabinet are original to the location.

These homes were period authentic, but Graves estimates the production crew still had to remove 80 to 90 percent of the furnishings and redecorate with pieces they had acquired.

“We replace the furniture because what’s there isn’t made for being sat in and moved around all day,” she says. “It’s just as much work to redress a location as it is to decorate a stage set.”

Scenes set in the drawing room of wealthy widow Sylvia Chamberlain were shot on location at the Sleepy Hollow Country Club, in Briarcliff Manor, New York. “The entire room was redressed by our team in the Rococo style,” says Graves.

Graves recounts one example of how far the team would go to ensure period accuracy and filming continuity. Several scenes were shot in a hallway at the Elms, which was used to depict parts of the Russell house. The walls in the hallway were upholstered in a 100-year-old red Scalamandré fabric that was no longer in production.

The problem was that the hallway could be glimpsed through the door of Mrs. Russell’s bedroom, which was on a soundstage. Graves worked with Scalamandré to find the discontinued fabric in its archives and produce enough to cover the sound stage hallway so that it would match that of the historic location. “You can’t just paint it red,” Graves notes. “It has to match exactly.”

The series was created by British screenwriter Julian Fellowes, and many think of it as the American cousin of his wildly popular English upstairs-downstairs drama, Downton Abbey. Of course, The Gilded Age wouldn’t be a Fellowes production if viewers didn’t also get a glimpse of the working areas of the New York mansions. Graves loves, in particular, the servants’ area of the van Rhijn household.

In the basement of the van Rhijn house, the servants eat at an antique harvest table paired with English-style captain’s chairs.

Those sets lack the rich fabrics and ornate decor of the upstairs rooms, but they are still spectacular, with miles of white subway tile and beautiful built-in cabinetry. “They were decorated in the period but as functional spaces,” Graves explains. “We were able to layer in copper pots and spices. I love the lived-in look.”

Decorating the rooms of The Gilded Age will always be a career highlight for her. “Julian and the producers wanted a feast for the eyes,” she says. It’s one that design-loving viewers have been more than happy to devour.


Interior Designers Institute was founded in 1984 and is one of the few Interior Design Schools in California offering an Avocational Certificate Course, Associate of Arts Degree in Interior Design, Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interior Design, and Master of Interior Architecture Degree and is nationally accredited and also accredited by CIDA, Council for Interior Design Accreditation.

Home Office Ideas That Will Inspire Productivity

These office design ideas will actually make you want to sit down and complete your to-do list.

Photo: Pieter Estersohn

A dedicated work space in your home helps you set aside household distractions and focus on work. Here, we’ve gathered home office ideas that will inspire you to design a work-friendly space in your own home. These home offices, located everywhere from Beverly Hills to Brooklyn, have one thing in common: a sophisticated space secluded from such tempting distractions as TV and snacks. Photographer Steven Meisel even installed a hybrid office/master bath in his home for those moments when genius strikes, say, in the tub, and an idea must be documented. From actor Julianna Margulies’s Manhattan apartment to author Judy Blume’s Key West, Florida, retreat, these home office design ideas will not only inspire you to get that last bit of work done, but enjoy your surroundings while doing so.

Photo: Michael Moran

Minimalist Work Space

For her radical redesign of a Park Avenue apartment, Jennifer Post carved six distinct areas out of the 900-square-foot space. The home office occupies an entire bedroom wall. Its decor is in line with the rest of the place, which has a minimalist feel with a strictly white palette and strategically placed accents of color throughout. “Color is used to increase the length of the apartment. You have to go look for it,” she says.

Photo: Roger Davies

Space-Saving Study

We’re digging the minimalism in this beach-chic Malibu home office area. The Ellwood-Lomax drop-front desk saves space and highlights all the sculptural accoutrements. That poof takes on many jobs: bookshelf, footstool, and extra chair for a study buddy.

Photo: William Abranowicz

Sleek and Unique

Some super sleek curves—architect Charles Gwathmey’s signature—distinguish his St. Barts home office and its sucupira-wood desk, designed by Kang Chang and fabricated on the island. The swivel chairs are by Hans Wegner from DK Vogue, and the ceiling fan is by Boffi. The rainbow display of books is a nice touch, too.

Photo: Eric Piasecki

Pops of Color

color combo to covet: bright green and gold. Gather some office inspiration from this Bridgehampton home designed by Steven Gambrel. All the vintage brass-and-leather accents and the silk rug created by Gambrel make a splash against the white cabinets.

Photo: Douglas Friedman

Alexandra von Furstenberg’s Sunny Work Space

This cheerful space is full of sharp angles while also maintaining a lot of fun. Alexandra von Furstenberg created the acrylic desk, side table, and (in collaboration with Dax Design) shelving for her Los Angeles home office, which is also outfitted with two Milo Baughman lounge chairs, an Eames desk chair by Herman Miller, a Dax Design cabinet, and a Philippe Starck floor lamp by Flos; the large photograph is by Kim Keever, and the easel displays an issue of Interview magazine signed by Andy Warhol to Von Furstenberg.

Photo: Björn Wallander

Parisian Maison Bureau

Painter’s canvas is used as paneling in the office of fashion designer Stefano Pilati’s Paris apartment, which was renovated by architect Bruno Caron. The repetitive crisscrossing elements on the Moroccan rug and yellow chest of drawers definitely make the room captivating.

Photo: Nikolas Koenig

Burst of Color

Inspire yourself with primary colors, where they provide the perfect burst of shape and structure in this office space. The mirrored trestle desk from Liz O’Brien and Artemide’s Tizio lamp brighten the library in the Manhattan apartment, too.

Photo: Björn Wallander

Decadent Blues

We’ll always love a very blue design idea, and that goes for the high-gloss office at Alex Rodriguez’s Florida estate—Briggs Edward Solomon handled the decoration—a Florence Knoll pedestal table is grouped with Saarinen armchairs, all by Knoll, and a carpet by Diane von Furstenberg for the Rug Company; sconces from Flos flank Marco Ovando photographs.

Photo: Roger Davies

Bel Air Office Where More Is More

A good case for more is more in this Bel Air, California, home. Raspberry leather chairs by designer Kelly Wearstler bring color to the office, where a collection of photos is displayed; the tube sculpture on the desk is also by Wearstler, and the carpet was custom made by the Rug Company.

Photo: Oberto Gili

Dark Walls and a Bold Rug

With a cozy fire and some dark, moody elements, the office in this New York townhouse of art dealer Christophe Van de Weghe and his wife, Anne-Gaëlle, designed by Annabelle Selldorf, showcases a Sarfatti light fixture, Prouvé desk, and Finn Juhl chair. The mirrors are by Line Vautrin, the artworks are by Cy Twombly (left) and Jean Dubuffet, and the banquette cushions are clad in a Great Plains fabric. And that zebra rug, come on.

Photo: François Halard

Diane von Furstenberg’s Office

Where do you look first in this dazzling and dizzying space? Surrounded by Franz West chairs, the Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann table in Diane von Furstenberg’s Manhattan office/living area often does double duty as a desk and dining table. A Joan Miró etching, a Francesco Clemente painting, and family photographs are displayed on the windowsill.

Photo: Ngoc Minh Ngo

Contemporary Home Office

Bold black lines and furnishings give this space a strong statement. The desk in the late designer Alberto Pinto’s Rio de Janeiro home office is surmounted by an Almir Reis photograph of volleyball on Ipanema Beach; the parchment lamps are 1970s, and the chair is by Philippe Hurel. Here, mixing vibrant colors and earthy textures really works.

Photo: Simon Watson

San Miguel Home Office

In designers Andrew Fisher and Jeffry Weisman’s home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Fisher designed the office’s desk and embellished the Queen Anne chair with shells and black paint. Clearly we’re into the seashell decor.

Photo: Björn Wallander

Ralph Lauren’s Personal Office

Ralph Lauren’s office at his company’s Madison Avenue headquarters makes a case for filling your space to the brim. With art, books, and sundry objects that inspire him, including a 1950s model plane suspended from the ceiling, the warm-toned office is full of wonder. Don’t be afraid of stacks on stacks of coffee table books.

Photo: David O. Marlow

Beverly Hills Study

Karin Blake combined East Coast tradition with an eclectic point of view for the interiors of screenwriter Paul Attanasio and producer Katie Jacobs’s Beverly Hills residence. The antique English table, bordered by vintage sewing chairs, lends Attanasio’s office the air of a workshop. The books look well-loved too.

Photo: Douglas Friedman

Bold and Colorful

In stylist Carlos Mota’s Dominican Republic beach house, a Picasso-inspired mural decorates a wall near the office, where an Indian chair is pulled up to a desk designed by Mota.



Interior Designers Institute was founded in 1984 and is one of the few Interior Design Schools in California offering an Avocational Certificate Course, Associate of Arts Degree in Interior Design, Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interior Design, and Master of Interior Architecture Degree and is nationally accredited and also accredited by CIDA, Council for Interior Design Accreditation.

Storage Built-in Style

Almost every space needs storage; tall spaces, small spaces, and every size in between. Well thought out storage can enhance a space. There is closed storage and open storage. Also, storage can become part of the space or disappear from the space depending on the materials and styles selected.


The single home above, designed by architecture studio Atelier Espaço P2, incorporates wood built-ins that frame the living room threshold. The build out provides space for coats and shelves for decorative pieces; while becoming an interesting focal point in the small space.


The modern twist on pegboard walls, as shown above, was designed by KC Design Studio. This unique concept allows the owner to have flexibility in how they display and store their items.


The studio above incorporates niches for displaying items. The built-in desk has enough room for two people to work and enjoy the view outside. Then to top it off, drawers and cabinets line one wall. The counter above this built-in allows for additional work space and display.


Hao Design pulled the first and second floor together with the two story built-in above. They worked around the windows to allow light to flow into the space without minimizing the storage available. The staircase was designed to coordinate with the built-in to form a cohesive design.


In the London apartment above, designed by EBBA Architects, the ceiling height is highlighted with the two story built-in. The design allows for open space display areas, as well as, closed cabinets.


StudioAC designed the space above to give the feeling of a modern wainscot by using low wood cabinets. The similar color of the cabinets and floor make the space feel quite large. The clean bump outs for the fireplace and oven serve to frame an interesting display area.


The Upper Wimpole Street apartment above was designed by Jonathan Tuckey Design. Storage was built into the walls. Next to the beds a built-in night stand with storage is easily accessible while relaxing in bed. To further the calm feel, all the storage areas and wall behind the bed were painted with the same color allowing the storage to almost disappear.


The narrow space above, designed by Ana Rocha Architecture, incorporates wall to wall shelving. The horizontal lines of the shelves give the illusion of a wider space.


Above, the public housing project in Danchi, Japan was designed by Nmstudio Architects and Nozoe Shimpei Architects. The space is built on raised plywood floors allowing for a unique storage area. Pegboard style walls were used so that the residence could customize their individual spaces.


The tiny space above feels quite large due to the monochromatic color palette that was used on the majority of the surfaces. The window seat doubles as storage.


Interior Designers Institute was founded in 1984 and is one of the few Interior Design Schools in California offering an Avocational Certificate Course, Associate of Arts Degree in Interior Design, Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interior Design, and Master of Interior Architecture Degree and is nationally accredited and also accredited by CIDA, Council for Interior Design Accreditation.

This Vibrant Mumbai Home by Baldiwala Edge Draws Inspiration from the Memphis Group

Inspired by the asymmetrical shapes and bold colors that the Memphis Group popularized in the 1980s, Ali Baldiwala, founder of his namesake design studio, created a whimsical two-bedroom apartment in South Mumbai. Straying from more traditional design elements, the home serves as a mélange of color, art, and custom furnishings that serve as a foundation for the quirky accents throughout. “A lot of research went into designing the space,” shares Baldiwala, noting that though his team referenced the Memphis movement, the curated designs, including the eye-catching wall murals by ZAworks Design, are completely original. “I love to add maximalism to the spaces by incorporating textures, materials, layering, and themes—masterful infusion to arrive at something entirely new and unique,” he adds.

Photography by Talib Chitalwala, styled by Samir Wadekar.

The living room features Memphis Group-inspired side tables envisioned by the designer and executed by Wood’n design.

For the youthful homeowners, the 1,000-square-foot space invites a sense of play while maintaining an air of luxury. From a rare world map puzzle in the kitchen area to a built-in matt blue and red bookcase, the space spotlights color without letting it overwhelm any given room. As Baldiwala points out, each room “tells its own tale,” making for a vibrant and quirky home that maintains an element of sophistication.

Photography by Talib Chitalwala, styled by Samir Wadekar.

A world map puzzle covers the wall opposite the pantry, procured from Ukraine. Imagined from longitudes on an actual map, the backdrop for this piece was designed in panel form with sheets of cork board painted in blue to depict the oceans.

Photography by Talib Chitalwala, styled by Samir Wadekar.

Geometric shapes add intrigue in the main bedroom, which features custom wall-to-wall, color-blocked carpet designed in house and executed by Weaver.

Photography by Talib Chitalwala, styled by Samir Wadekar.

Terrazo Vitrified tiles by Iris Ceramica compliment the subtle peach tones in the counter and floor tiles by Ceramica Fondovalle in the main bathroom.

Photography by Talib Chitalwala, styled by Samir Wadekar. 

When entering the den area, guests encounter a distinctively arched, matt blue library, dotted with books and quirky keepsakes. 

Photography by Talib Chitalwala, styled by Samir Wadekar.

Even the light fixtures, sourced from Channapatna in the Karnataka region of India, feature vivid lacquer shades by lighting designer Arjun Rathi

Photography by Talib Chitalwala, styled by Samir Wadekar. 

Mumbai-based ZAworks Design created the wall artwork. 



Interior Designers Institute was founded in 1984 and is one of the few Interior Design Schools in California offering an Avocational Certificate Course, Associate of Arts Degree in Interior Design, Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interior Design, and Master of Interior Architecture Degree and is nationally accredited and also accredited by CIDA, Council for Interior Design Accreditation.

A Historic Victorian in San Francisco Is Meticulously Transformed Into a Modern Family Home

In San Francisco’s Alamo Square, Jensen Architects turns to the past to boldly reinterpret a storied historic home.

John Conomos, an established San Francisco builder and president of Drömhus General Contractors, was living with his family opposite Alamo Square when the Victorian next door went on the market. Although not apparent from its dingy exterior, the home was closely connected to the architectural preservation of the city itself. Living in the adjacent Edwardian—historic in its own right—Conomos and his wife Amanda had zero intention of moving. However, after fearing the possibility of a future buyer carelessly leveling the dwelling in favor of a nondescript mansion, they couldn’t escape the responsibility of restoring the home to its full potential. After devising a plan to fix it up carefully and resell it when complete, they eventually purchased the house next door.

When John and Amanda purchased the old Victorian next door, it was primarily covered with brown cedar shingles, which resulted from a renovation in the 1970s that also included the replacement of the double-hung wood sash windows with aluminum sliders.

The home—it turns out—had quite a story of its own. In the 1950s, Verta Vinson, a prominent local figure and one of the founders of the Alamo Square Neighborhood Association, was living with her husband in an apartment fronting the park. Vinson was a vocal advocate for the preservation of the city’s Victorians at a time when the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency had their eyes on Alamo Square with plans for demolition. She was adamant that the character-filled Victorians spread throughout the city, especially in older districts like Western Addition, should be repaired rather than being torn down. When the property adjacent to her apartment went up for sale in 1955, Verta and her husband, coincidentally, bought the house next door. The property remained in the Vinson family for decades, with many generations calling it home.

Historic photograph, not dated, post-1902. The subject property is shown at the far left with the original detailing intact. This image, representing the most authentic snapshot of the home’s original appearance, was critical to the facade’s reconstruction.

The historic residence had been severely disfigured over the years. Originally built in the Victorian Stick style in 1889, which would have included intricate trims and moldings, the home had seen numerous confounding facelifts in its lifetime. The facade was stuccoed over at one point, and subsequently blanketed in brown shingles (how it appeared when the Conomos family purchased it).

Historic photograph, 1951. Subject property is shown on the left, with the primary facade and cornice covered with stucco. San Francisco Public Library

The home needed a complete overhaul, and the couple soon enlisted Jensen Architects to help reimagine the unique property. The team inherited a host of challenges, the most pressing of which was the muddled exterior, which no longer retained any historic integrity. After careful consideration and a historical evaluation of the building’s past lives, the team decided to recreate the original facade. In order to do this, they would reference the historic photographs and architectural clues on the building itself. The first step of the restoration, dictated by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, would be to pull off the non-historic shingled facade, observe any scarring or shadow lines, and subsequently have the preservation staff conduct a site visit to visually inspect the stripped facade—all before any reconstruction could begin.

Photo Credit: Jensen Architects

Shadows uncovered above the front facade’s second floor bay window matched original detailing above the paired windows on the intact east facade.

To lead the ambitious undertaking, the team turned to Skeeter Jones, founder of Clearheart Fine Design and Building. As both a carpenter and artist, Jones has restored countless Victorians across the city, which has become his artistic passion. Jones’ process at the Alamo Square residence hinged upon both historic evidence and creative improvisation. For Jones, one of the most important objectives in his work is to convey a “sense of place,” which is so critical in defining a city’s identity. In his mind, this is achieved through a strategic infusion of ornamentation and stylized elements that, although not original, are recognizably “of the period.” Jones meticulously resurrected the facade, improvising along the way with input from the Jensen team, especially in sections that remained inconclusive from historic evidence.

Photo Credit: Joe Fletcher; The home’s facade went through a laborious five-month reconstruction process, and when complete, was bathed in a demure coat of metallic silver paint.

Although Jones expected the Jensen team to favor a simpler, more streamlined aesthetic in such areas, they gave him the green light to make the facade as intricate and detailed as possible, provided it was still “of the period.” Deviations from the original facade, although subtle, were thoughtful and strategic. Perhaps most notably, the street level bay window was omitted in favor of a garage—a functional necessity. They also incorporated trim that’s thicker and more prominent at the bottom, especially at the entry, for a more formidable look. These details included heavier handrails and posts, plus a thicker arched entry. For the recreated turnings, the team favored more substantial “shaft-like” columns made from 6x6s, instead of 4x4s. The entry vestibule is much deeper than it would have been originally. Additionally, the glass front door, transom window, and sidelights provide subtle modern cues that hint at the transformation to come beyond the transitional entryway.

Photo Credit: Joe Fletcher

From start to finish, the laborious facade reconstruction took five months to complete. Once perfected, it was time to select the exterior color, a decision that would have a big impact on the home’s presence in the historic neighborhood. A stone’s throw from Postcard Row, San Francisco’s famous lineup of dignified and vibrant Victorian “painted ladies,” the Jensen team and the couple had no interest in a kaleidoscopic color palette—a trend that actually didn’t come into fashion on Victorian exteriors until the 1960s. They also didn’t want to conceal or mask the exterior by painting it all black, an increasingly popular trend among renovated Victorians in the city. The team eventually settled on one color: a semi-reflective silver, whose nuanced metallic sheen is most evident up close. “We wanted the house to appear,” says Conomos, “like it was picked up by its foundation, dipped in silver, and put back down.”

Photo Credit: Joe Fletcher; The rear facade is illuminated at night.

“We wanted the house to appear like it was picked up by its foundation, dipped in silver, and put back down.”

– John Conomos, builder/resident

When the team turned their focus to the interior of the home, a vision unfolded that would prove to be a bold counterpart to the Victorian facade. John and Amanda Conomos and the Jensen design team, led by principal Mark Jensen and project leads Emily Gosack and Yusheen Yang, traded ideas back and forth—a collaborative process which, from start to finish, “was always fun,” says Conomos. Through design iterations, a critical shift happened that would inform the trajectory of the project. “We were developing it as if we were going to live in it,” says Conomos of the home, “so one day, we decided, okay, let’s live in it!” For his family of four, their home next door challenged the family living dynamic with its choppy (mostly original) layout, regardless of the fact that it wasn’t lacking in space. “You could be downstairs and not know the kids were playing upstairs,” says Conomos. Reflecting on what didn’t work for them in their current house, the team pushed forward with two core objectives: maximizing light and views on the long and narrow lot and fostering a sense of family and social togetherness through design.

Photo Credit: Joe Fletcher; Fronting Alamo Square Park, the living room’s pitched ceiling creates an expansive space for socializing and relaxing. The space is accented by a custom sofa and window seat by Franciscan Interiors, rocking chairs from B&B Italia, and a Lake low credenza by BDDW. The fireplace-adjacent bench seating is upholstered in William Yeoward Alverdia fabric in Ocean, complementing the teal accents in the adjoining dining room and kitchen.

One of the most distinguishing design elements, the sculptural staircase, immediately commands attention upon entering the home. Clad in fumed and stained oak, the stairs are folded and contorted through the vertical space in an impressive display of architectural origami. Though a sculptural work of art, the stair was initially designed as a light well in order to meet the utilitarian need of maximizing light into the home. The stair design went through many iterations, beginning with a much simpler “repeating horseshoe” concept. The couple didn’t want something that had been done before and gave Mark Jensen the freedom to “push it” conceptually. “It’s no secret that architects are obsessed with stairs,” chuckles Jensen. The team rejected the conventions of other modern stair designs: often sleek, stacked constructs with cantilevered treads and glass handrails. “We wanted to strive less for ultimate transparency,” he explains.

Photo credit Joe Fletcher; The striking interior stair was originally designed as a light well to filter light from above deep into the interior space.

Due to the stair’s complex asymmetry and tricky articulation, the final design took multiple renderings to get it right. Once designed, fabrication and construction also proved challenging. The engineered European oak was treated with a custom finish by Hayasa Flooring Design and meticulously installed. “It was definitely one of the most technically challenging stair installs we’ve done,” says Hakob Karapetyan of HFD. The construction was challenging, but the result is unique—no two levels are alike. Apart from aesthetics, the stair was designed to function as a social space. “The design was derived from how the clients wanted to live in the house,” explains Jensen. To fill a void that was missing in their old house, the couple wanted the stairs to be a place where the kids could hang out and where people would want to gather during parties. The spacious landings have generous proportions for socializing, some with small windows and reading nooks. The stairs were even given their own zone of music.

Photo credit Joe Fletcher; The stairs are made of fumed and stained, engineered oak with a solid oak cap. Thanks to its complex geometry, no level is the same.

“It’s no secret that architects are obsessed with stairs.”

– Mark Jensen, architect

The stairs’ folded volumes juxtapose solid wood forms with light-filled voids.

The stair features custom installations by lighting designer Johanna Grawunder. When turned off, the panels appear as mirrors. When on, they reflect LED lights, giving the twisted stair forms an exaggerated “funhouse-like” effect.

Opposite the stair, the elevator was another opportunity to strategically bring more light into the home. The standard Acme model they chose was tweaked with after-market modifications to fit the home’s aesthetics. Walled on one side in glass, the elevator itself becomes a focal point, with mechanical elements left intentionally exposed and its shaft acting functionally as a vertical light tunnel.

Photo credit Joe Fletcher

The home’s elevator features a glass cab and exposed mechanical elements. The already high Victorian ceilings were extended vertically to the top of the attic’s pitch, where a skylight was added.

The team inherited soaring ceilings that were original to the home, with heights reaching more than 11 feet on the second and third floors. When Conomos popped his head into the attic after initially purchasing the home, he noticed there were another seven vertical feet to the top of the pitch, presenting a unique opportunity to extend the third-floor ceiling height even further. They subsequently decided to punch through that attic space, making the living level on the third floor dramatically more open and expansive. Positioned between the stair and elevator, the fourth-floor penthouse skylight falls directly at the top of the former attic pitch, beautifully framing incoming light from above. Walkable skylights were also incorporated along the western periphery of the home. The long and narrow structural glass panels are positioned for foot travel on the roof and third floor, which filter light to the floors below.

While navigating decisions about the home’s overall layout, a reverse floor plan was favored, with social spaces localized at the top of the home to take advantage of the best light and views, and the bedrooms at the bottom. This practical approach was also reflective of how the family intended to prioritize their time in the home. The open kitchen anchors the third-floor social space, abutting the family room and sun room. The kitchen space, largely stark and muted, gets an unexpected pop of color at the center island, with teal cabinet fronts and coordinating counter stools. The saturated color pairing makes for a maximum visual impact. The teal color, chosen by Amanda, was the jumping-off point for all of the other color cues throughout the home’s interior. In the living room, which faces the park, an angled fireplace is clad in tile from Waterworks. During construction, the team looked at grout samples for the fireplace for weeks, and in the end, made the decision to forego grout altogether.

The home’s kitchen features dual Miele ovens, a Thermador refrigerator and freezer, and a Thermador induction cooktop. A feature wall clad in natural Carrara marble sits behind sliding cabinet uppers. Heron counter stools by Paola Lenti in ‘verde scuro’ coordinate with custom cabinet fronts, which are accented with Spinneybeck leather pulls.

Interior designer Holly Hulburd of Hulburd Design closely collaborated with the team in assembling a design palette that would complement—not compete with—the home’s unique architecture. It was important that the interior design “grow with the house, not in addition to the house…to respect and address the strength of the architecture,” says Hulburd. Throughout the home’s interior, materials and furnishings have clean lines and a minimal aesthetic. Every piece was chosen with intention. Bold texture and color (mostly green hues) were added strategically for depth and visual intrigue.

The angled fireplace is clad in Grove Brickworks field tile from Waterworks, which are laid vertically with no grout in between.

The home’s private spaces, taking a back seat to the more expansive public spaces, have “everything you need and nothing more,” says Conomos. The rear-facing master bedroom, not exceptionally large, was designed that way intentionally. They didn’t want to make the room so spacious that they wouldn’t want to leave. “The whole point of the house was to be among people—no hiding away,” says Conomos. The adjoining master bathroom features Marmorino plaster walls, a custom concrete sink, and Pipe faucets from Boffi, offering a quirky and industrial touch.

The master bedroom, modest in size, features a Stark area rug and a wicker PK22 chair by Poul Kjærholm for Fritz Hansen.

The long and narrow master bathroom features Marmorino plaster walls, Fireclay tile, a custom concrete sink, and Pipe faucets from Boffi.

“The whole point of the house was to be among people—no hiding away.”

– John Conomos, builder/resident

With a blank slate for the home’s non-historic and dilapidated rear facade, there was creative freedom to push the envelope. The Jensen team pitched the unconventional idea of a rear facade composed of metal. The cladding would be a subtle connective thread to the front facade’s metallic hue, but the similarities would start and end there. The elaborate composition took final form as a series of laser-cut aluminum screens that would be movable on motorized sliders. The team wanted to take advantage of the great views from the back of the home, and the addition of the screens would allow further privacy, light, and control. The idea, says Jensen, is that “you can re-tune the interior by moving the sliders.”

The home’s dramatic rear facade is composed of perforated metal screens by Flynn & Enslow, which are attached to Fleetwood windows. The second-floor bump out is cantilevered with no structural post below.

As functional as the concept was, it was also a “playful thing” that would allow residents to interact with the building. The impressive rear facade also features a cantilevered bump out that appears to float in suspension with no structural post below. In the third-floor sun room, the cantilevered projection includes two walls of glazing that come together at a seamless corner for maximum enjoyment of unobstructed views.

Photo credit Joe Fletcher; Detailing of laser-cut aluminum panels at the rear facade.

The team made the most of the “postage stamp-sized” backyard with the help of landscape architects Surfacedesign, who assembled a pattern of pavers that would be graphically interesting to look at. The living wall, by Habitat Horticulture, helps green the backyard in an organic and graphic way. “It’s simple, but it transforms the space,” says Jensen.

Photo credit Joe Fletcher; A living wall by Habitat Horticulture brings life to the compact backyard.

Boasting sweeping downtown views, the roof deck reconciles complex geometry to accommodate a staircase, elevator, and usable social space. A fireplace is surrounded by outdoor seating designed by Paola Lenti.

The vertical projections of the new stair penthouse and elevator penthouse were well within the height limits dictated by the city. The restored parapet on the front facade helps obscure the modern additions from public view, which is necessary for the project’s compliance. The outdoor space on the roof, however, was tricky to lay out within the context of the home’s surrounding programming. The challenge stemmed from the vaulted ceiling on the third floor, hitting a penthouse that’s square. “The view is great, but the geometry is complicated,” Jensen recalls of the roof deck. “It was like a 3D jigsaw puzzle.” The complexity required push and pull, and some of the decisions about placement of windows and openings happened live during framing. Eventually, the elevator, stairs, and an inviting rooftop social space all came together in harmony.

Photo credit Joe Fletcher; The home’s floor plan positions social spaces on the upper floors to take advantage of the best light and views.

“The view is great, but the geometry is complicated. It was like a 3D jigsaw puzzle.”

– Mark Jensen, architect

In the end, the Alamo Square Residence is seemingly a house of contradictions: new and old, traditional and contemporary, muted and bold, simple and innovative. Beneath the surface, however, the disparate elements are woven together with a cohesiveness that allows it to be, at its core, a warm and functional family home. The genre-defying design (whimsically dubbed “Victorian fantasy” by Skeeter Jones) manages to push boundaries in the most beautiful way possible. With a reverent hat tip to the past, it quietly and confidently fits into the vibrant urban fabric of San Francisco, a city both rich in history and ever-evolving as a beacon for creativity and innovation.

Text by Sarah Akkoush


Interior Designers Institute was founded in 1984 and is one of the few Interior Design Schools in California offering an Avocational Certificate Course, Associate of Arts Degree in Interior Design, Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interior Design, and Master of Interior Architecture Degree and is nationally accredited and also accredited by CIDA, Council for Interior Design Accreditation.