Ex-Cop-Turned Designer Outfits Converted San Francisco Firehouse
Holger Arnold’s new home, a 1909 San Francisco fire station that had been converted into a residence after being decommissioned and sold at public auction in the 1970s, was loaded with character and square footage. The problem was that Arnold had no furniture to put in the five-level dwelling. “After six months, I bought a chair to sit on while I watched TV,” says Arnold. Outfitting the historic firehouse was nothing short of a small emergency. Ex-police-officer-turned interior designer Kristina Wolf turned out to be just the right person for the job. “I use all my old police skills in my interior design business,” says the 27-year police veteran.
“Heads of State,” a series of paintings by John Hundt, adds a scientific note to the interior. “The shelves that run below them were once used for firefighters’ gear,” says Wolf. “The shelf sizes seem unusual, but they were built for boots, helmets and other equipment of that era.”
In 1909, this building housed Engine Company No. 40; the front doors had to be large enough to accommodate a horse-drawn fire wagon and, later, a fire truck. After the structure was converted into a home, the doors retained their original glass and fittings.
“He wanted a New York–style loft look that was interesting and fun,” says Wolf. To get the look, Wolf performed a delicate balancing act, working to make modern furnishings at home with the original soaring ceilings and massive front doors.
“My client envisioned a dining space where people would want to sit around the table and talk for hours after a meal,” says interior designer Kristina Wolf. “So I designed a large table and chose a well-padded bench and chairs.”
The 20-foot-long fire pole to the right of the fireplace has a removable cover for insurance reasons, but homeowner Holger Arnold admits that he and his friends have tried it out. (“If you have something like this, you have to,” he says.) John Hundt’s symbol-and-diagram-filled painting plus a coffee table imprinted with the periodic table speak to Arnold’s inner science geek. “I wanted to display things that spoke to the building’s industrial past,” he explains.