Bold MovesAuthor:Lindsey Shook
Alison Pickart gives her client a fresh start in a stylish San Francisco penthouse
Alison Pickart remembers showing her client a sample of de Gournay’s St. Laurent wallcovering as an option for the powder room. “She was oohing and aahing, and was like, ‘It’s so beautiful. It feels almost a shame to have it tucked away in the powder room,’” the homeowner remarked of the exquisite hand-painted motif that features peacocks and doves amid fruit trees. “I said, kind of as a joke: ‘Well, we could do the study in the pattern,’” Pickart further recalls, noting that the study is six times the size of the powder room. “She told me: ‘Let’s do that! Then everyone can enjoy it.’”
That exchange, adds the Ross-based interior designer, pretty much sums up how the project went. “She was definitely in for a grand statement,” says Pickart. For the client’s inaugural post-divorce residence—the high- ceilinged penthouse in a 1927 building in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood—she enlisted Pickart to conjure interiors that are at once comfortable and compelling, as well as ideally suited for entertaining.
The Niamh Barry light sculptures are another example of Pickart going big and bold—and the client trusting her to do so. A longtime fan of the artist, Pickart proposed including one of her creations somewhere in the home. “With all the moldings and classic architecture, this was the perfect place for Barry’s super-modern sculptures,” says Pickart. But she couldn’t decide on a single spot. So she went back to the client and suggested two fixtures,
for the neighboring dining and living rooms—“to make these two spaces feel very connected and symbiotic.” The client signed off without hesitation.
Oh, and that powder room? It still leaves a strong impression, even without the de Gournay treatment. Since the client’s directive was to effect a sexy, fun party vibe—and included a request for a black toilet—Pickart installed a purple Designers Guild ombré wallpaper. “To make it noteworthy and fun to be in, we had to amp up the color,” she explains. Rounding out the decor are Walker Zanger’s black-and-white Fretwork mosaic floor tiles, a striped gray resin and white bone Made Goods mirror, Garrison sconces from the Urban Electric Co., and vibrant artwork from the client’s collection.
For the client’s bedroom, a decidedly more ethereal environment, Pickart imagined a “true sanctuary” with walls upholstered in a charcoal silk velvet by Designers Guild. Apparatus’ Cloud 37 chandelier, comprised of frosted glass orbs, hangs over the bed. “It’s the dreamiest application ever,” says Pickart, “because it looks like you’re under a cloud.” She describes a dresser with a marquetry octopus—a holdover from the client’s previous home—as “one of the most extraordinary pieces I’ve ever seen.” Nearby, a vintage secretary procured on 1stdibs is paired with a vanity chair by Dmitriy & Co., also the maker of the bed.
Reflecting on the full-floor undertaking, Pickart is effusive about the client and how receptive she was to various concepts. “It reinforced how important it is that designers always bring something new and innovative and special; it’s our responsibility,” says Pickart. “I loved working on this project. I wish I could have a hundred more like it!” – Anh-Minh Le