Forever at Home


Kari McIntosh and FORMA Construction take a Spanish Colonial in the San Francisco Peninsula back to its multicultural roots.

A grand entrance with double-height entry and skylight allowing light to pour down onto a marble look (its actually resin) table by Made Goods sourced through Witford. The pendant light is by Circa Lighting. Photos by John Merkl.
The clients wanted a living room for entertaining that was approachable and holds up to family life. They also desired a restful palette to decompress after a plugged in day. The sofas are O’Henry House covered in performance velvet through HEWN SF, occasional tables through Witford, the rug is through Woven in SF, and the draperies are Ellis Dunn fabricated by Leong interiors. Photos by John Merkl.

When it was became clear that the family of four would soon outgrow their San Francisco home, they began looking for a more suitable space. Their search eventually led them outside the city, to a historic community in San Francisco’s Peninsula heralded for its unique mix of architectural styles, that offered them the proximity to schools and family they were looking for. 

The home they eventually settled on, perched on a corner lot near the town’s center, was a 4,000-square-foot Spanish Colonial-style house. Originally built in 1992, its good bones had been obscured by a series of haphazard, heavy-handed remodels that had left the interiors dark and dreary. It would need some work to transform it into the welcoming home they envisioned. 

The kitchen has been completely renovated including custom millwork painted in Benjamin Moore Vintage Pewter, combined with a hand-crafted plaster hood, Jeffrey Court Backsplash sourced through Da Vinci Marble and hand-painted switch plates by Caroline Lizarraga Decorative. Photos by John Merkl.
The dining room features Gracie wallpaper and a custom dining table by Keith Fritz found at Hewn.
Photos by John Merkl.

A thorough internet search (and a plethora of good Yelp! reviews) led them to Kari McIntosh Design. The Burlingame-based interior designer is known for warm and inviting interiors infused with global influences. One project in her portfolio was particularly compelling: McIntosh’s own home had found its influence in Santa Barbara-style. Derived from Mediterranean and Spanish-Revival styles, the mix of polished wood floors and soft white walls, large multi-paned windows and wrought iron details, exuded the grace and elegance the homeowners hoped to achieve in their own home.

“Our goal is to maximize the aesthetic and functional potential of a home, respecting and honoring the history of the space while customizing it to reflect the current owner,” McIntosh says, noting that the neighborhood has a rich history. “The street they live on is assumed to have been named after the first European explorer to navigate the coast of what became California,” she says, “So one of our primary goals was to create a more Spanish/Mediterranean-style home that would reflect that history.” 

One of the most critical design elements was to allow space to showcase the homeowners growing art collection, many by women artists of color. Working with Kari and several local art consultants, they sourced many new pieces throughout the home, including artworks by Ronni Nicole, Fernanda Martinez, Colette Cosentino & Karen Smidth, and a custom commissioned work by Monica Delgado (through Maybaum Gallery). Photos by John Merkl. Photo by John Merkl.
The powder room off the main hall includes wallcovering by Ellie Cashman Design in a bold floral print combined with brushed brass fixtures. Photo by John Merkl.

With the help of Forma Construction, McIntosh reinvented the home with new finishes and design elements that lightened both interior and exterior. Inside, the kitchen and bathrooms were modernized with details that were more in keeping with the classical Mediterranean style the homeowners loved. Outside, the exterior was simplified. Stripped to its sheathing to address some water issues, the stucco was redone in a pale La Habra. The roof was replaced with authentic clay tiles that underlined the style of the home. The deck tiles were redone. Savant and Lutron systems update the lighting and security systems. 

Upstairs, the master suite showcases wallcovering by Philip Jeffries, a Made Goods canopy bed through Witford, and terrace overlooking the private backyard and fountain. Photo by John Merkl.
The primary bath has been completely refreshed to include a soaking tub, steam shower, sitting area and Kohler plumbing fixtures with stone and tile from Da Vinci Marble. Photos by John Merkl.

One of the most critical design elements was showcasing the client’s growing art collection. A streamlined interior, restrained palette and spare, yet substantial, furnishings put the emphasis on the art which highlights women artists of color. Several works were added through the design process including pieces by Ronni Nicole, Fernanda Martinez, Colette Cosentino, Karen Smidth and a custom work by Monica Delgado, commissioned through Maybaum Gallery. “A home is at its best when it suits its inhabitants and adds value to everyday living,” says McIntosh.

Photos by John Merkl