A Study in Contrasts


With a mix of styles and provenances, the interiors in a luxe aerie strike just the right balance

Arteriors’ Wallace chair and Hector accent table, along with art by Arielle Austin, contribute to a calm and inviting foyer.
Photography by BRENDAN MAININI, styling by RACHEL FORSLUND.

Perched 15 floors above San Francisco— at the Four Seasons Private Residences at 706 Mission—the two-bedroom unit conjured by Guillaume Coutheillas is a sky-high oasis. “You land, relax and progress to the rest of the space,” he says of the entry, which includes Arteriors’ Wallace chair and contemporary art by Arielle Austin.

“This is a place where you can decompress from the city.” Its 2,900 square feet juxtapose old and new, West and East Coasts, high and low—a merging of divergent sensibilities that is in keeping with Coutheillas’ approach to design. Take the name of his firm, frenchCALIFORNIA. “It’s all about a relaxed California style with the more formal Parisian personality,” he explains.

Coutheillas conceived of the parlor as “an environment for entertaining,” appointed with vintage art and accessories from frenchCALIFORNIA’s collection. Photography by BRENDAN MAININI, styling by RACHEL FORSLUND.

The Paris native divides his time between San Francisco and New York, where both of his homes were built in the early 1900s. Coutheillas’ affinity for contrasting qualities can be traced to his upbringing: “My dad is an engineer from the north and my mom is from the countryside in the south,” he says. “Every piece had to have a function for my dad, but we also had a lot of antiques and beautiful objects for my mom. So that has resulted in the aesthetic we apply to our projects.”

Guillaume Coutheillas accessorized the existing kitchen and installed the Glaze linear pendant by Arteriors, which he describes as “sophisticated farmhouse style.” Photography by BRENDAN MAININI, styling by RACHEL FORSLUND.

According to Coutheillas, with the Four Seasons, he faced a familiar challenge: “How do you bring elements of character into a new construction?” He imagined well-traveled homeowners and, with the proximity to SFMOMA, “you clearly think of a very sophisticated client that has a mix of contemporary and vintage art and furniture. It’s the idea of: How do they live and what have they collected in their lives before ending up right here?”

Limewash in Cap Ferret, a frenchCALIFORNIA custom hue with Color Atelier, serves as a backdrop for a wood- and-brass table and forged iron-and-linen chairs— both by Arteriors—as well as a floor lamp by Michael Anastassiades.
Photography by BRENDAN MAININI, styling by RACHEL FORSLUND.

Items from his own personal collection permeate the interiors. Coutheillas procures “a lot of vintage in the U.S. and Europe,” he says. “The items create this feeling—a history. I am not after the most expensive, signed, one-of-a-kind, original pieces…It’s seeing beauty in things that are sometimes weird and different and making them work with the right room.” His warehouses in Concord, California, and New Jersey are brimming with acquisitions. “I love all of them,” he continues, “but I’m not emotionally attached. If it’s going to make someone else happy or help the goal of a project, I can let them go.”

Past the foyer, Coutheillas envisioned a parlor—a nod to San Francisco’s Victorian and Edwardian dwellings, where such venues were frequently designated for receiving and entertaining guests. In this case, the parlor flows into the living room, where “there are no hard lines; everything is curved,” he says. “You’re in a room that otherwise is pretty angular, from the windows to the shape of the room, so you want to soften that up and make everything inviting.” While a vintage wooden chair that Coutheillas found in France lends warmth—and is a great spot to stack books—framing the bouclé-covered sofa with a pair of standing lights imbues a touch of formality.

Texture abounds in the primary bedroom, which includes chairs in a cerused smoke gray wood finish with linen upholstery; a concrete coffee table with a faux-marble finish; and limewashed walls in Terre, a frenchCALIFORNIA custom shade with Color Atelier.
Photography by BRENDAN MAININI, styling by RACHEL FORSLUND.

A defining feature of the dining room is the limewash on the walls—a frenchCALIFORNIA custom sage green with Color Atelier called Cap Ferret. “Whether you’re using it in a contemporary space or an old house, it brings character and soul,” Coutheillas says. “It looks different in the morning and at night, whether it’s cloudy or sunny, whether you’re facing north or south. And also depending on how you apply it.” Amid the Old World paint treatment, Coutheillas placed a modern floor lamp by Michael Anastassiades and clean-lined forged iron-and-linen chairs. The inclusion of a rug imparts an easeful atmosphere, encouraging the occupants to “be barefoot.”

A corner of the primary bedroom is occupied by vintage art, RH’s Clio shagreen vanity desk and Arteriors’ Jerome hand-hammered stool. Photography by BRENDAN MAININI, styling by RACHEL FORSLUND.

The limewash on the primary bedroom’s walls—in Terre, another custom color—is “saturated to create this richness and movement,” Coutheillas says. “It adds to that feeling of being in the clouds.” To that end, he selected armchairs that combine cerused smoke gray wood and creamy linen, a light gray upholstered bed, a gray shagreen vanity desk with brass hardware and ethereal drapery.

Throughout the home, the use and placement of art and accessories is often unexpected. Deep windowsills hold a bust, books or vases. In the kitchen, on the marble counter, an outsize vintage metallic blue vase rests on a pedestal; the vessel can be positioned upright in a traditional manner or tilted with an arrangement cascading out. “Not everything has to be on bookshelves,” Coutheillas advises. “Things can move around and be a little bit more free.”

The marble-clad bathroom is warmed up with a vintage wooden chair that Coutheillas discovered in France and a faux- fur rug in pewter gray. Photography by BRENDAN MAININI, styling by RACHEL FORSLUND.

Indeed, that sentiment seems to characterize the residence, with Coutheillas acknowledging that “there’s no good dinner set. There are no off-limits areas. There are just spaces where everyone can gather, because I think that’s really important.”