His & HersAuthor:Anh-Minh Le
In San Francisco, Kari McIntosh relies on paint, patterns and textures to conjure interiors that resonate with her newlywed clients
By the time the owners of the Noe Valley Edwardian reached out to San Mateo-based interior designer Kari McIntosh, they had lived in the 2,500-square-foot residence for about a year—roughly the duration of their marriage. The interiors were decidedly contemporary and did not align with their own taste: traditional with eclectic elements. According to McIntosh, the home was sparsely appointed, as its occupants—the couple along with his two children, who resided there full- time—were still figuring out “how to bring their styles together,” she recalls. “That was their goal—to meld their styles.”
Now, with its marble checkerboard floor and herringbone tweed bench cushion, the entry vestibule not only achieves this, but is a testament to the power of paint. The previously white walls and ceiling were painted in C2’s Bluegrass—“a rich, full-spectrum blue-green,” says McIntosh. The barrel-vaulted ceiling was further enhanced by decorative artist Caroline Lizarraga, whose creation calls to mind the celestial mural in New York’s Grand Central Terminal. As an extra personal touch, she integrated the zodiac constellations for the birth months of the four family members into her work.
Once inside, the adjacent dining and living rooms reflect the homeowners’ penchant for entertaining. The latter has been imagined as the Bourbon Room, where guests can linger after a meal and sip from the clients’ bourbon collection. Although the two spaces are distinct, McIntosh formed a through line by employing C2’s Barnacle in both. “I knew if we used the same color, even if we tweaked it a bit, that the rooms would make sense together,” she explains.
In the Bourbon Room, it is the base color for Lizarraga’s Venetian plaster walls and also covers the cabinets flanking the fireplace. In the dining room, the earthy hue is the foundation of a mural, by Lizarraga as well. “The envelope is quieter and more muted, and then the furnishings punch up the color,” says McIntosh. To that end, she proposed Rubelli dining chairs, upholstered in an electric-blue performance velvet. Across the way, the Bourbon Room’s Aldo Tura mid-century bar cart, procured from Found by Maja, is comprised of brass and malachite-green goatskin.
The kitchen had included open shelving and glass- front doors, which did not suit its current inhabitants. While keeping the layout and appliances, McIntosh worked wonders. She replaced the window with one that is 12 inches narrower, which allowed for the installation of a full wall of cabinetry. Paint once again played a key role in the transformation; in this case, C2’s Baritone, a color the clients remembered from McIntosh’s butler pantry in the 2019 San Francisco Decorator Showcase. Marble tiles with brass inlay by AKDO, Cambria quartz countertops and a custom brass hood fabricated by Michael Bondi Metal Design round out the kitchen scheme.
In the primary bedroom, McIntosh enlisted Lizarraga to hand-apply gold-leaf squares to the ceiling. “The minute she was done, the room just glowed,” recalls McIntosh. A custom pink velvet headboard bordered by brass nailheads, a crystal and brass art deco chandelier from Erin Lane Estate, nubby linen-cotton drapes by Leong Interiors, Phillip Jeffries grasscloth wallcovering with gold detail and a braided throw from Anthem Home all combine for a “frothy and pretty” aesthetic, observes McIntosh. “She really wanted to see pink in this room and he said, ‘Whatever she wants.’” The designer then adds with a laugh: “Newlyweds!”