How a once-sleepy Edwardian mansion got a jolt of fresh energy

San Francisco’s Pacific Heights has a knack for design conversions dating back more than a century. After the 1906 earthquake destroyed the neighborhood, the city’s wealthy — drawn by the stunning views of the bay — flocked to build their dream neighborhood of stately Victorian, Mission Revival, and Edwardian homes. The enclave remains one of the most exclusive areas in San Francisco, and is home to US Representative Nancy Pelosi, romance novelist Danielle Steel, billionaire Peter Thiel, and even… Mrs. Doubtfire Like its inhabitants.

For a young family – after years of living in a rented house and sitting on tentative furniture – a three-story Edwardian house dating back to 1915 in the area was the final result. There was only one problem: how to bring comfort and personality to the home’s oversized, impersonal interiors.

The living room—the result of a gut repair—is crowned with an ethereal painted ceiling by local decorative artist Caroline Lizarraga.

Nicole Franzen

“It was just finesays designer Susan Work, who runs a local design studio home work With her husband, architect Ben Work. “Like, it wasn’t hideous. Just blah.”

“They wanted to do this (renovation) in a way that would allow them to redefine what it means to be home.”

The homeowners, having heard about the chic and fun DIY projects, decided to dip their toes into the home renovation waters for another Pacific Heights transformation, albeit more modest in scale: a powder room renovation. But after Homework worked its magic — with ombré Calico wallpaper — customers became hooked. Next came the breakfast room. Then the living room. “She wanted the spaces to spark joy and be something she hadn’t seen before,” says Ben, referring to the wife’s brief. Before the clients and designers knew it, they had a major renovation on their hands. “They wanted to do this (renovation) in a way that would allow them to redefine what it means to be home,” Susan says.

Room by room, designers began to tweak the home’s classic — if subdued — grandeur with lively bursts of color and eye-catching shapes. Visitors first enter a neutral entryway, where a black crystal chandelier by Gabriel Scott hangs above a small, round entry table “to add a little pizzazz,” says Susan. The space is a “breathing moment” according to the designers, but make no mistake, it’s the only completely neutral room you’ll encounter in the house. In fact, the farther you go, the bolder and more sweeping the design gestures become. The sitting room — which was gutted to make room for additional storage — is crowned with an ethereal painted ceiling by a local decor artist. Caroline to Ashes. Feathery accents, along with a Sabine Marsilis mirror above the fireplace and softly curved Pierre-Augustin Rose sofas, create a feeling of floating in the clouds. “We like to put things side by side at different ages; Ben says: masculine and feminine. “Anything that creates contrast and surprise.”

Homework san francisco edwardian

This small third-floor room, covered in burnt orange calico metallic wallpaper, practically radiates energy through its custom blue Yves Klein sink, the Frank Stella-inspired sconce by Rosie Lee, and the jet-black herringbone flooring.

Nicole Franzen

While the living room, with its answer to the 2020s Sistine ceiling, evokes the sky, the home’s third-floor powder room (an aesthetic close relative of the original powder room that the designers were commissioned to redesign) is a journey to the center of the Earth — and the house’s most liberating moment . The small space, covered in a burnt orange metallic fabric, practically radiates energy through its custom blue Yves Klein sink, Frank Stella-inspired sconces, and jet-black herringbone flooring. It was a fall of trust; “It kind of fell into our arms,” Susan says of working with a client. “Every room has just evolved (to become) deeper, more saturated, more fun and more creative.”

“Every room has just evolved (to become) deeper, more saturated, more fun and more creative.”

The master suite—reconfigured to occupy much of the third floor—is now quieter, but no less immersive. Here, the walls and area rug feature dark blue tones, and the addition of floor-length blackout curtains creates the feeling of entering a soft cave. “It’s darker than most of the house,[allows you]to distance yourself from the energy of the rest of the house,” Ben explains.

Homework san francisco edwardian

In the master bedroom, the abstract nightstand is by DeMuro Das, and the lamp is by Lisette Rützou.

Nicole Franzen

Once again, the duo enlisted the services of Lizarraga to add a dose of drama. Here she painted a fireplace breast in a smoky hue, not unlike the finish of a Raku vase. The custom bed, in the designers’ words, is “huge” and supported by a floor-to-ceiling headboard covered in a delicious brown mohair by Pierre Frey, explains Susan. “We wanted to bring the ultimate convenience factor here.”

Now that they’re all settled, clients will text with work updates about their new life at home — drinks in the atmospheric lounge or kids playing on the curvy mohair sofas. “It’s very rewarding. They got rid of all this starter furniture, and now they’re starting to develop it,” says Susan. “They’re like, ‘I can’t believe this is our home.'”

Snapshot of Anna Vixen

Deputy digital editor

Anna Fixsen, Deputy Digital Editor at ELLE DECOR, focuses on how to share the best of the world of design through in-depth reporting and storytelling online. Before joining the staff, she held positions at Architectural Digest, Metropolis, and Architectural Record magazines.

(tags for translation)design homework

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