When the owners of this 1930s Colonial Revival-style house in Presidio Heights, a family-friendly neighborhood near San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, needed help to create an equally family-friendly interior, they turned to the designer who had overseen the home design of their first property, a small condo back in 2015.
‘Fast-forward to 2020, and we were married, trapped indoors with a one-year-old in said condo during Covid,’ explains the client.
‘We longed for more space and a backyard. When we saw this place, close to friends, and a few blocks from my sister, we had a feeling this was our house.’ On the outside, the property was beautiful, not needing much beyond landscaping and painting, but the inside told a different tale. It hadn’t been touched for decades.'
‘The language of the house was good, but the scale of the rooms wasn’t great,’ recalls Stephen. ‘Our goal was to design a home to serve a growing family of now four. When the children are little, you need more visual control of them, but as they grow up, they require a separate space where they can retreat with friends.’
With Lauren’s previous knowledge of her clients, she set about creating a home that reflected them on every level. ‘We knew they wanted something more formal than the laid-back California casual look,’ she says. ‘This excited me as I love to mix things up, leaning towards more traditional style on some projects, more contemporary on others.’
The bulk of the work was on the ground floor. ‘The kitchen was opened up to the family room, with steel doors added,’ says Lauren. ‘The dining room was moved to the middle of the house, with the lower floor becoming a media room, a guest room/office, gym, wine room and powder room.’ Upstairs, the main bathroom and closets were enlarged, with en suites for the two children’s bedrooms.
When it comes to design, Lauren always starts with the house itself and the location. ‘Then we dig down into the clients and their lifestyles,’ she says. ‘Our goal is to create a home that withstands the test of time and does not tire.'
'We place emphasis on antiques and vintage pieces, layering them from different eras and countries. My clients love visiting France and New York,’ she continues, ‘and wanted a blend of Paris and Provence-meets-Brooklyn brownstone.'
'We mixed Parisian apartment references that blended classic French design, such as parquet floors and wrought-iron furniture, with modern features like sculptural marble islands and dramatic lighting.’
The client says, ‘I also wanted a stronger indoor-outdoor connection, like those Brooklyn homes with glass doors that open to beautiful patios.’
Lauren has balanced modern and traditional design effortlessly, such as in the dining room, with its contemporary Lindsey Adelman light over a stone table, Scapinelli chairs and chinoiserie de Gournay wallpaper. ‘This mix creates a tension that piques interest and keeps rooms from feeling too expected.’
Both Lauren and her client share a love for natural stone, with nine different marbles used. The kitchen’s Calacatta turquoise provided the biggest challenge. ‘We were using it in such a big way that this stone had to be special, and my client searched far and wide for the perfect fit,’ says Lauren.
This is a project that has drawn on a past design relationship, a love of travel, soft palettes, surprise pattern and a happy juxtaposition of modern and vintage. ‘The decisions made by the client came out of true passion,’ says Lauren, ‘and you can see how much love they have for their home because of this.’
MEET THE DESIGNER
Lauren Nelson shares her style inspiration
What was the most indulgent part of this project?
The kitchen, with the sheer amount of marble used on the island unit, the back wall and even on the ceiling above the range.
Were there any particular challenges?
Sourcing the nine different types of stone used throughout the house.
Have you got a favorite room?
The media room, with its deep-green cabinets and bespoke sofa, stone splashback and wood-clad ceiling. It’s dark and moody, but still cozy.
What's your go-to color at the moment?
Intrigue by Benjamin Moore – a moody grey-green.
Who inspires your work?
Can you recommend a hotel with an incredible interior?
What was the most recent thing you bought for your home?
A Danish brutalist sideboard for my dining room.
Sign up to the Homes & Gardens newsletter
Decor Ideas. Project Inspiration. Expert Advice. Delivered to your inbox.
This is the best material to propagate cuttings in – plant stylist Hilton Carter swears by this technique
Insider tips on how to grow the strongest and healthiest plants from your existing collection
By Rachel Bull Published
Our style editor’s selection of machine-washable rugs are both chic and incredibly practical
Machine-washable rugs now come in a slew of chic styles and price points, and I've found the best rugs to purchase for easy cleanup.
By Nikhita Mahtani Published