Created for Curiosity


Spend some time inside Antonio Martins’ treasure chest home

Enlarged reproductions of 19th Century Portuguese blue and white tiles, hand painted by Linda Horning and Katherine Jacobus for Martins’ 2014 San Francisco Decorator’s Showcase bedroom were repurposed and used in the space complemented by a lacquered console designed by Martins and fabricated by Fabian Fine Furniture. Photo by Christopher Stark.

“My motto is that “every home has a story” and my home tells my story: born in Lisbon, raised in Rio (Brazil), studied in Europe and worked for 12 years in Asia before moving to the US to pursue an Interior Design Career,” is how designer Antonio Martins describes the design of his own San Francisco home. “When you look at the décor and my collections, you can see my life trajectory.  Every piece has a story, independent of its value.  It is there for a reason!”

In the living room, a collection of antique portraits line the walls facing a sofa covered in fabric from Glant Linen. Photo by Christopher Stark.

His award winning work always tells an individual story, layered with collections, curiosities and custom furniture. So it was no surprise that his own home is a treasure chest of wonder around every corner. Like the interiors, the structure itself is full of character. “When it comes to architecture, I like to buy homes that have stories behind their facades, and I tend to preserve them instead of bulldozing them and building the traditional “Carrara mausoleums” that we see everywhere today,” says Martins. “This home is known as Villa Santini and was home to the Santini Family, Italian Immigrants known for producing high quality plaster moldings (which explains the large amounts of moldings throughout the house).”

Adjacent to the living room, the dining room features an antique tavern dining table found at a local auction paired with Cab Chairs by Mario Bellini for Cassina.  A rare collection of Han dynasty stick men are displayed on walls. Photo by Christopher Stark.

The 2,400-square-foot, two-story Edwardian home needed a slight update. Martins started by renovating the upper floor. “No change in layout was made, but a total remodel of the spaces were required, including removing excessive moldings (yes, this is not Versailles) and updating electrical and plumbing,” he says. For the final step, Martins converted the lower level into a gallery-style room. He says, “Who needs another family room?  For a single designer, a gallery is much more appropriate!”

A self-proclaimed non-chef, Martins utilizes kitchen space to display more of his antiques including pieces from both the Han and Ming dynasties. Photo by Christopher Stark.
Photo by Christopher Stark.
A 17th century Brussels wool and silk tapestry purchased at auction was a perfect fit to the wall in the master bedroom, complemented by the deep blue Slate Shimmer wallcovering by KF Hempcloth. Photo by Christopher Stark.
Photo by Christopher Stark.

While most designers start their process with a color or theme in mind, Martins customized each space around his robust collections. The main stairwell begins with a remarkable installation of blue and white tiles originally created for the 2014 Decorator’s Showcase and ends at a wood-clad room full of cabinets to hold several heirlooms and antiques. “The cabinet of curiosities was creating by purchasing an antique display cabinet and reproducing the design on two additional walls to create a full room that display multiple collections on drawers and glass cabinets,” he says. “I love my cabinet of curiosities.  Yves Saint Laurent’s Buddha Room was always my favorite room in the world and this is my very humble (very humble) attempt to get there.  It was also inspired in the multiple rooms created by Ed Tuttle where bookshelves were lined with orange silk.”

Martins completely renovated the master bathroom, installing custom wallcovering by Phillip Jeffries. Photo by Christopher Stark.

Finishes and fixtures in the bathrooms and kitchen continue the traditional elements found in the main living spaces, while contemporary lighting selections add layers of modern edge.

The cabinet of curiosities, adjacent to the master bedroom, is Martins’ favorite space and also serves as a dressing room. Photo by Christopher Stark.
Photo by Christopher Stark.
Painting studio of Shared with Artist John Mayberry, longtime friend and collaborator. 
Photo by Christopher Stark.

The flawlessly curated gallery level provides more showcasing for many of Martins’ treasures and ample space for entertaining. The gallery in the lower floor is a great space to not only display my collection of paintings and objects, but also to use as a multi-functional space with friends,” says Martins. “We have danced, exercised, dined, slept, etc, etc, etc, in that room.”

Martins transformed his entire lower level into a gallery that holds books, art, antiquities and much more. Photo by Drew Kelly.
David Weeks fixtures by shed light on the gallery. Photos by Drew Kelly.

“As we age, the home acquires more layers,” says Martins. “I always dream of selling it all and starting from zero, but on the other hand, how empty would that be?”

Photo by Drew Kelly.
Photo by Drew Kelly.


Strada flush-mount ceiling light by Kelly Wearster

Low marble plinth square coffee table from Restoration Hardware

The 412 Cab chair by Mario Bellini for Cassina

85 Lamps by Rody Graumans for Droog

Vinyl Against the Grain by Phillip Jeffries

Vitra Wiggle side chair by Frank Gehry

Torroja Cross pendant by David Weeks