Design Destination: Live Like A Local At The Buchanan In San Francisco


San Francisco’s Fillmore Street finds its long-awaited boutique hotel in The Buchanan, from the Kimpton group. Taking its cues from the eclectic neighborhood, where Japantown meets Pacific Heights and upscale boutiques sit cheek-by-jowl with Asian antique stores, San Francisco-based interior design firm NICOLEHOLLIS tangles Japanese culture with modern industrial chic. The lobby, anchored by a feature wall made of reclaimed whiskey barrel staves charred by a traditional finishing process known as Shou-Sugi Ban, and featuring an undulating light installation made from whiskey bottles, done in partnership with local ELA Lighting, sets the stage for the hotel’s moody zen glamour.  

“We envisioned the hotel as a dynamic urban destination and pied-a-terre with a welcoming, bohemian feel. We wanted to create an environment that drew on dynamic local influences and iconography,” NICOLEHOLLIS principal Nicole Hollis notes, explaining the thinking behind her design. “Our goal was to celebrate street life, urban culture, and artistic virtuosity. I think the main challenge was developing a concept that spoke to all aspects of the surrounding neighborhood and community and respected its history and culture. We addressed this challenge by avoiding any literal or one-note design interpretations and by letting materials be our guiding and organizing principle.”

Upstairs, in the spacious guestrooms, many with private outdoor balconies that boast expansive views of the city, subtle nods to Japanese culture can be seen in the Shibori-print kimonos and accent pillows and colorful prints by local artists. Bespoke furniture includes the platform beds, headboards, and casegoods, all designed by Nicole Hollis Interior Design. Bathrooms feature custom vanities with black quartz countertops and matte black metal frames with luxury fixtures from Waterworks.

The overall color scheme for the hotel is replete with charcoals mixed with bright whites  Hiighlights of deep forest green and navy, natural linen, crisp cotton and worn natural leather, are all woven throughout the interiors, giving them a modern edge. Explains Hollis, “The palette is sultry, touching on the charred wood of Japanese whiskey barrels, the imperfect blue of hand-dyed indigo textiles and the earthiness of handmade Asian pottery. Celebrating the locale was a vital part of that and we relied heavily on local artisans and artists including Kelly Ording, who designed a mural for the reception area, and Aleksandra Zee, who created artwork for our communal table area.”

The hotel’s goal is to make a visitor to the city feel like a local and, to that end, there’s also a hotel-specific app. From food delivery services and local dinner parties to ridesharing and public transportation sources, insider’s tips, fitness classes, and beauty appointments, it puts the best of the city in reach of San Francisco newbies.

For more information, visit The Buchanan