Design house: A former rental home was given a fresh update, fit for family life

A breezy palette of white and blue evokes serenity and stillness in this calming space.

This classic Victorian home in San Francisco's Pacific Heights was given a fresh update with clean, soft neutrals taking advantage of the abundance of natural light that fills the space.

The homeowners are a young couple that were friends of Margaret Ash and her husband Jonathan before they became clients. They are both in the real estate business and when their rental apartment became available to purchase, they immediately signed the papers and called on Margaret to bring breathe new life into this former rental home. An open concept floor plan and all the necessary amenities added value and convenience for their growing family.

We speak to interior designer, Margaret Ash, about the design house.

(Image credit: Julia Sperling)


The clients wanted to incorporate a variety of soft grey tones as an ode to the quintessential San Francisco fog. We also wanted to include touches of blues and greens to further accentuate the Bay Area's nature-inspired colour palette.


The living room scheme was based on the client's existing art by Matthew Cusick. Another requirement was that the husband wanted to keep his favorite leather arm chair. As designers, we have to balance our vision for the space with the sentimental needs of the clients and their attachments to certain items.

Victorian home

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Evoking purity and cleanliness alongside confidence and sophistication, white is a wonderfully versatile colour for interiors. Accents of blue and earthy brown tones help to harmonious the space.

Small accents of white are a wonderful way to lift and freshen any colour scheme. Accessories made from enamel, black or white candles and glass jars will elevate the whole palette and draw the eye.

Victorian home

See:Design house: A quintessential Victorian home in San Francisco, designed by Margaret Ash Design



The clients wanted to open the kitchen to the living area, remove the dated lower cabinets and revise the awkward layout of the kitchen.

Victorian home

Victorian home


Because cool tones aren’t overpowering – in fact they often feel like they are receding – they often help a small room appear to have more space, which can make them a great choice bedrooms. Not only does it make a beautiful base for a scheme but it’s scientifically proven to be a subconsciously calming shade, making you relax without even realising it.

Victorian home


The homeowners wanted to completely update both bathrooms by replacing all tiling and fixtures and finally storage optimisation was key, specifically in the cabinets, and we did so by outfitting them with a clever organisation system.

Crisp white works wonderfully in bathrooms. Nothing beats the pure white backdrop achieved with high-grade Calacatta Oro or Statuario marble slabs, which I like to set against chrome taps.

Victorian home

Photography/ Julia Sperling

Interior design/ Margaret Ash Design

Jennifer Ebert
Deputy Editor (Digital)

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.