History Revisited


Leo Cesareo updates a historic home with a modern vision

A custom sofa by De Sousa Hughes faces lounge chairs from Coup D’Etat’s collection. The rug is custom from Floor Design SF and the coffee table is by Coco Republic. Photos by Molly Haas.

“My design philosophy is to create an inviting, comfortable and expertly curated home for friends and family to enjoy,” says emerging designer Leo Cesareo—who studied at RISD but later formalized his style and process while working for a handful of California design leaders including Jay Jeffers, Steven Volpe and Lauren Geremia.

opposite page: A walnut and brass dining table from Twentieth sits under Lindsey Adelman’s Cherry Bomb chandelier in the dining room. Still Night (acrylic on linen over panel) by painter Samuel Carr-Prindle shines over a marble arched console from Coco Republic.
Photos by Molly Haas.

The San Francisco designer was tapped to rethink a Mediterranean-style home from the 1920s that his clients—who are longtime patrons of his work—had previously remodeled but were left unsatisfied. “I had worked with them on several other of their properties throughout the years to varying degrees of engagement; this project, however, was the first time we had a chance to fully engage in a turn-key design,” he notes. “We helped reimagine the flow and look and feel of their house so that it would be more conducive to family gatherings and usable living space.”

Counter stools in the kitchen are by J.L. Møllers, the range is from Sub-Zero Wolf and all the fixtures are from Waterworks.
Photos by Molly Haas.

With over 4,900 square feet to work with, Cesareo partnered with NOA Design + Construction on a full remodel of the home, with an overhaul of the layout top of mind. “It was a true collaboration with NOA to ensure that every element of the design met the clients’ needs,” he recalls. “The home is one of the six historic homes that sits at the foot of San Francisco’s iconic Lyon Street Steps, nestled at the edge of the Presidio, in the heart of Pacific Heights.”

Hanging in the staircase is Daniel Arthur Mendoza’s Tenderness So Painful I Thought My Heart Would Burst tapestry. Photos by Molly Haas.

When it came to the interior choices, Cesareo chose to embrace the original character and details of the home while ushering it into the future with modern lighting, furniture and finish selections. “Besides the incredible views of the marina, the most significant features to me were all the custom built-ins that we designed throughout the home, including the family room bookshelves, office bookcase and primary closet,” he remarks. “Our combined design-and-build teams executed everything beautifully and to an exacting degree of detail and polish.”

In the office, a corner lounge chair by Marta Sala and a desk from Coco Republic take a back seat to artworks by Mineral Workshop and Samuel Carr-Prindle. Photos by Molly Haas.

Custom furniture pieces were sourced from local showrooms including a sofa by De Sousa Hughes, lounge chairs by Coup D’Etat and side tables from The Future Perfect, now found in the living room. Elevated design continues in the office, where a custom Marta Sala lounge chair faces a desk from Coco Republic that holds Michael Anastassiades’ Tip of the Tongue table lamp. The subdued selections, paired next to the clients’ curated art collection, add layers of modern sophistication to the historic structure.

In a guest bedroom, Ethan Caflisch’s In Pink and Blue painting faces Lisa Fox’s Discarded Buscemi Eyes. Photos by Molly Haas.
Waterworks faucets and fixtures are found throughout the primary bathroom. Photos by Molly Haas.

When asked how his clients reacted upon seeing their new old home, Cesareo remarks, “They’ve already signed on for another home abroad. Having returning clients is a great feeling as a designer as it proves that the vision, project and execution were successful and that both parties are ready to engage and collaborate all over again.”