Artistic Statement


A singular design vision, showcasing a multitude of talented collaborators, comes to life in Belvedere

In the entry area, by a staircase with Chris French metalwork and an embossed snakeskin handrail, artist Chris Wolston’s Paramo wicker cabinet is one of a kind. Photos by Tubay.

On her way to dinner one night in San Francisco, Erin Martin passed the PG&E Embarcadero Substation. “This is it,” she remembers thinking. “I want this.” The St. Helena-based interior designer was struck by the 1973 cast-concrete Brutalist building, with vertical ridges spanning its 171 feet. “Good ideas,” she later shares, “aren’t found sitting down thinking. Thinking is overrated. Good ideas, well…they are discovered while out and about, living it up.”

Amid the handiwork of TBC Plaster Artisans on the living room’s walls and ceiling are Bishop glass and metal tables by John Liston; built-in seating with a Mark Alexander textile, fabricated by Pohan’s Upholstery; and a Noguchi ceiling lamp, about four feet in diameter.
Photos by Tubay.

So it was that a power facility inspired Martin’s residential project in Belvedere. For the living room walls and ceiling, she enlisted TBC Plaster Artisans for a monochromatic striated surface. The gentle arch of the 17-foot-high ceiling prompts comparisons by Martin to “the bottom of a boat, if you flipped it upside down”—apropos for a home idyllically situated along a lagoon.

Near the new three-sided fireplace, Erin Martin Design placed Drapè leather swivel chairs from Laura Meroni; a Pierre Talus stone coffee table from Galerie Ground; and Jacco Maris’ Mrs.Q floor lamp, with a leather shade. Photos by Tubay.
For the bar area, Erin Martin relied on RMS Designs for the cabinetry (with Pepe Mendoza ashtrays used as hardware), while the encaustic artwork is by Michael McDermott. Photos by Tubay.

The starting point for Martin’s namesake firm—including creative head Cael Lanham and partners in design Aileen Cano and Maria Torres—was decidedly more traditional. The living room, for instance, had dark wood beams and corbels. One real estate listing referred to the approximately 5,000-square-foot dwelling as Nantucket-style; in another, the word “formal” appears repeatedly. A complete overhaul was in order for its current owners—a couple with four kids. “They just said, ‘Fix it,’” Martin recalls of the directive from the clients, for whom she had already completed two homes. “I just know them at this point. The team knows them. We had already gained that trust.”

The kitchen is appointed with tiles by Kelly Farley, cabinetry by RMS Designs and countertops by Flying Turtle Concrete—all illuminated by a Bubbles Jagged chandelier by Nader Gammas from StudioTwentySeven. Photos by Tubay.
56 CALIFORNIAHOMEDESIGN.COM WINTER 2023 57 The dining area is outfitted with custom tables built by Atra (the one on the right pivots on a base to create a single long table) as well as Platner chairs upholstered in fabric from Nzuri Textiles and leather by Maharam. Photos by Tubay.

Martin joined forces with Little Dog Construction and also tapped various artists and makers who were frequent collaborators over two decades-plus. Once inside—past the portal with a metal facade that exhibits the talents of Brian Kennedy—“it’s all water,” she says of the view straight ahead. Looking toward the kitchen, however, “it’s earth happening,” with a wall and range hood covered in clay tiles by Kelly Farley. “It’s the natural clay and we let it happen,” Martin continues, describing the 4.5-inch squares. “There’s no finish. It’s letting it do whatever it wants to do and letting Kelly do what he loves to do.”

The two-story residence’s upstairs landing is home to a hand-sculpted statue by Daniela Soberman. Photos by Tubay.

Even the staircase presented an opportunity to embrace craftsmanship. The connector between
the home’s two stories features metalwork by Chris French, combined with sepia acrylic panels. “The light is bouncing through and it glows,” Martin enthuses. “It has a great feel to it—that warm happy feeling.” The handrail is sheathed in embossed snakeskin leather from Pavoni, and the hide stair runner is by Kyle Bunting.

The view from the office—furnished with Joe Colombo’s Elda chair, wrapped in leather— includes a floating console that is a BDDW cabinet (Erin Martin removed the legs and mounted the piece on the wall) and artwork by Lever Rukhin.
Photos by Tubay.

With the Jada exterior doors and windows powder- coated to match Benjamin Moore’s White Christmas, and the interior plaster walls a custom color based on Benjamin Moore’s Dove Wing, these elements “read as one,” Martin says. After removing a fireplace that was centered on a living room wall, a three-sided version was installed on the far end of the room, near the doors that lead out to the deck. “If you’re sitting on the sofa,” she explains, “you can look through the fireplace to the mountains and the water.” A low screen composed of dowels, by Noah Elias Works, provides separation between the living and dining areas while still encouraging conversations and the passing of drinks, perhaps, from one room to the other.

The primary bedroom features a fiberglass pendant by Bourgeois Bohème Atelier and a custom headboard by Erin Martin in Zak+Fox fabric with leather drawer fronts. Photos by Tubay.

RMS Designs fabricated the cabinetry throughout, including in the bar, where it is mated with distinct hardware: Mexican modernist Pepe Mendoza sculptural cloisonné ashtrays. “You can use anything for anything if it’s pretty,” Martin suggests. The countertop is the handiwork of Flying Turtle Concrete, which was responsible for the concrete creations elsewhere in the house, too. The material is a practical choice since, as Martin puts it, the occupants “can beat it up.”

The primary bathroom’s floating vanity by Flying Turtle Concrete has acrylic faces by RMS Designs, which also fabricated the wardrobe in the space, and the lighting fixtures are by Juniper. Photos by Tubay.

She and the clients will next link up on a residence in Mexico. The locale may be on Martin’s mind as she reflects on the collaborative nature of the recent undertaking in Marin County. “There are all these different people,” she says. “You’re just trying to put it into a blender and make sure it tastes good when it’s done. Like a good margarita.”