That's So Bay! Thoughts on the San Francisco Decorator Showcase
This year's Decorator Showcase nails the iconoclastic spirit of the Bay Area, one spectacular room at a time.
residents of San Francisco, the San
Francisco Decorator Showcase at Herbst Manor in Pacific
Heights felt partly like a sumptuous feast for the eyes, and partly like a
cruel joke. It's hard to explain how hard it was to go back to a cramped rental
after experiencing the beauty and care lavished upon every room of this airy,
pretty dwelling, but it was, in the end, worth the emotional trauma. Because
oh, what an amazing array of styles, ideas and moments of utter inspiration.
top floor featured The Atelier, designed by Antonio Martins of Antonio
Martins Interior Design. My companion called it "the most elaborate
man-cave I've ever seen," but to me it was much more. First of all, the
walls were covered with burlap, treated and then applied to the wall as if it
were wallpaper, tacked at the corners with furniture tacks over black bias
tape, which provided a feeling of both warmth and lightness far more
sophisticated and oddly modern than the heavy mahogany paneling one might
the hall was a "writer's room" bathed in light and bright colors, but
this soothing chamber was infinitely preferable to this wordsmith. Rustic
statues dotted the walls and surfaces, and a simple day-bed adorned with a
muted quilt would provide the appropriate moments of repose (okay,
procrastination) (fine, naps) that anyone working from home would require.
was also struck by the Teenaged Girl's Room. Together with the Danger Zone,
these two rooms indicated a deep and admirable understanding of a kid's
requirements. The Teenaged Girl's Room's designer, Vernon Applegate and Gioi
Tran of Applegate Tran Interiors, were brimming with excitement and love for
the entirely fictional denizen of their room. They had named her, they
understood her, and even though the project was done, they still had the
instinct to buy for her: this is the kind of engagement with your subject that
results in a much-loved living space.
The (literal) highlight of her room was the ceiling, a monochrome relief map of London that reflected her desire to travel, into which a light fixture resembling a steampunk octopus was perfectly placed. "She drives her mom crazy," Tran told me. "She's a rebel." The object that told me how well she was understood was a globe that had been painted with chalkboard paint, a metaphor for the process of exploring and expanding her own world. It's a room I'd gladly live in now, when I'm only a teenaged girl in terms of my emotional maturity.
"Danger Zone," by Martha Angus and Eche Martinez of Martha Angus Inc., is for a younger kid, male or female, and reinvents a formal room as a campground and springboard for adventure. Here's a lighted teepee; there's a wall of board games. And wait a second, are those ersatz dynamite sticks, a la Wile E. Coyote, in the fancy-schmantzy fireplace? Full of energy, it's a space that both invites and excites.
my favorite moments came when I stepped out, teeth chattering, to the garden.
Dubbed the "Birds of Prey Garden Courtyard" by Davis Dalbok of Living
Green Design, it transformed an awkward space into a lush and almost womblike
outdoor den. Of course, the living wall is not necessarily new, but it was put
together with so much energy and vibrant excitement that it reinvented the
The leaves and flowers surrounding the courtyard seemed poised to leap into the air like the space's namesake, and a kicky, quirky touch perched atop the door is an antique found object that I called a "rooster" and the designer called a "phoenix." You be the judge. It'll be the perfect thing to ponder during your mid-morning coffee break.
As I said, returning to the cluttered garret I call home was a bit of a letdown. But now I'm dreaming of burlap walls.
Can't get enough of the San Francisco Decorator Showcase? Visit HGTV's Design Happens blog for even more photos.