2023 Residential Design Award: Nicole Hollis


When setting foot in this 13,000-square-foot Presidio Heights residence, visitors are greeted by a polished bronze pumpkin, standing nearly five feet tall and instantly recognizable as a work by Yayoi Kusama. Just beyond it, a sculptural spiral staircase further captivates, as does a nearby Gerhard Richter watercolor. Taking in these aesthetic delights, it becomes abundantly clear: This is a singular and special place, guided by a passion for modern art—from the homeowners’ blue-chip collection to custom-created elements.

The custom curved staircase—built by Bay Area Millworks, with plaster by Thom Bruce and a bronze handrail by Turner & Taylor Metal Works—draws the eye to a pumpkin sculpture by Yayoi Kusama.
Photos by Douglas Friedman.
In the living room, the custom Calacatta Oro bookmatched fireplace surround was fabricated by CoorItalia and installed by Stone Style, while the furniture includes Collection Particulière sofas, upholstered in Sandra Jordan fabric; a Patrick Naggar bar cabinet from Ralph Pucci; a Fernando and Humberto Campana coffee table from Friedman Benda; and a Stéphane Parmentier rug from Cogolin. Photos by Douglas Friedman.
Artist Ingrid Donat was commissioned for the dining room, which features her grooved wood wall panels as well as bronze crown molding with integral art rails, baseboards, sconces and a fireplace that she designed—all installed by Louis Ptak Construction. The metallic Venetian plaster ceiling is the handiwork of Thom Bruce, while the granite hearth was installed by Stone Style and provided by Da Vinci Marble. Photos by Douglas Friedman.

The goal for Nicole Hollis—whose San Francisco-based eponymous practice spearheaded the interior architecture and design—was a venue that not only functions for a young family of four but also serves
as “a backdrop to support their growing art collection,” she says, noting that her team considered the clients’ pieces and conferred with their art consultant, Laura Smith Sweeney. Given Hollis’ own enthusiasm for art and penchant for collaborations that yield one-of- a-kind results, it’s no surprise that she and the clients quickly developed a rapport. “They were so open and gave us carte blanche to do what we do,” she continues. “Even though we did the project during COVID—that was the tough part—I think we nailed it.”

The kitchen combines cabinetry composed of custom-carved Breccia Capraia and custom-stained oak—both by Vaselli (through Elementi). Photos by Douglas Friedman.
The palette for the second-floor powder room’s artisan plaster wall and ceiling finish by Londubh Studio was informed by the Yoshitomo Nara piece beside the custom white onyx sink, fabricated by Vaselli (through Elementi). Michael Anastassiades pendants and a Sabine Marcelis mirror round out the design.
Photos by Douglas Friedman.

The once French country-style interiors were completely gutted, with only the fireplace locations retained. Throughout the home, dark wood has been replaced with white Marmorino plaster walls and ceilings by Thom Bruce. For the striking staircase—built by Bay Area Millworks with plaster by Bruce and a the kitchen and another powder room with unexpected charm. The latter’s walls shimmer, thanks to a custom Venetian plaster with mica flecks by Londubh Studio; the pink hue is drawn from the Yoshitomo Nara work that graces the space.

In the family room, the custom indigo-dyed cabinetry and paneling—by Eby Construction and finished by Jitner Painting—was a “bold move,” says designer Nicole Hollis, adding that the red light fixtures by Michael Anastassiades provides “a pop of color.” The Christophe Delcourt sofa for Minotti, covered in Carlucci fabric, and the Wendell Castle coffee table from Friedman Benda provide a relaxing spot to peruse the art books, curated by Laura Smith Sweeney. Photos by Douglas Friedman.
On the first floor, a powder room with upholstered linen walls by Fabric Walls stars a couple of custom pieces: a light fixture by Johanna Grawunder (through Carpenters Workshop Gallery) and a blue resin sink by Sabine Marcelis (through Etage Projects). Photos by Douglas Friedman.

Breccia Capraia—a marble with gray and deep aubergine veining—is prominent in the kitchen. “It’s all custom-made in Italy,” says Hollis. Typically, such undertakings entail traveling abroad to meet with the fabricators, but the pandemic prompted changes to the process. “We FaceTimed,” she recounts. “They called us from the quarry to show us blocks, and also called when they started cutting.” Similarly, the living room’s Calacatta Oro bookmatched fireplace, which Hollis designed with a curve, was achieved remotely. And in the primary bathroom, the flooring, wall cladding, vanity and carved tub were all cut from one block of Arabescato Corchia. “The stone itself has a lot of activity,” Hollis allows, “but the overall effect is soothing. There’s not a lot of different finishes and tiles in the room, so it feels calm and quiet.”

The sculptural staircase leads to the second-floor parlor, furnished with a Rick Owens daybed and works by Fred Eversley and George Condo, in front of the window and on the wall, respectively. Photos by Douglas Friedman.
The primary bedroom is a soothing scene, with a custom-designed bed and headboard by Nicole Hollis, upholstered in Sandra Jordan alpaca; an Atelier Février rug; an Ayala Serfaty ceiling light and Mattia Bonetti nightstands from David Gill Gallery, topped by Anne and Vincent Corbière table lamps from Twenty First Gallery. Photos by Douglas Friedman.

Amid a project teeming with exquisite bespoke features, the dining room still manages to stand out. “We commissioned Ingrid Donat out of Paris,” says Hollis. “We gave her the entire room—to do the hand-carved wood paneling and the bronze crown molding, baseboard, fireplace and lighting.” The endeavor was done via Zoom and email, with about 250 pages of shop drawings sent back and forth over the course of a year. Once Donat’s layout and finishes were finalized, Hollis selected additional items, like the Atelier Février rug, Faye Toogood console from Friedman Benda, Espasso chairs by Sergio Rodrigues and Paul Mathieu chandelier from Ralph Pucci. Donat created the dining table, too.

A Vincenzo De Cotiis ceiling light and Magni Home Collection sconces illuminate the primary bathroom, which also includes Nicole Hollis–designed medicine cabinets made by Andrew Jacobson’s Design in Wood, Inc. Photos by Douglas Friedman.
The primary bathroom—including its flooring, carved tub, vanity and wall cladding—uses a single block of Arabescato Corchia marble by Vaselli (through Elementi). The bronze shower enclosure was custom, by Zanini (through CoorItalia). Photos by Douglas Friedman.

Hollis considers the two-year project a success in many ways. “Creatively, the collaborations with artists and fabricators—that’s where the magic happens, when you bring these creative minds together,” she says. And it’s a “good sign” that the parties involved in the home’s transformation, including Upscale Construction and architect Stephen Willrich, have a desire to join forces again on future projects. But most importantly, she says, “The clients are really happy, and that’s a win for me. This is their home; it needs to reflect them….Being able to work with their collection and having every room be adorned with such beautiful works of art is just the icing on the cake.”