Rhapsody in Blue


A cool palette punctuated with vibrant accents proves a winning combination in this Kelly Hohla project

A Hersh Design chandelier, Arteriors table and mirror, Ann Sacks marble floor tiles and bench from Coup D’Etat make an elegant first impression. Photos by John Merkl.

As far as Kelly Hohla is concerned, blue is a neutral. Case in point: For a couple and their teenage daughter, the San Francisco interior designer incorporated various shades of blue throughout their three-story Pacific Heights home. “We tried to mix it up from space to space,” says Hohla, who frequently combined blues with grays. Alongside these cool hues, she layered in bold accent colors as well as prints and patterns for an overall aesthetic that she describes as “soft and serene, with little bits of edge and interest.”

“The kitchen was in good shape, so we could work with it,” says Kelly Hohla of the refresh that included introducing light gray paint on the cabinetry, a natural stone backsplash from Country Floors, Calacatta countertops and Gabriel Scott pendant lamps.Photos by John Merkl.
A Christopher Boots chandelier is suspended above a dining table by Skram Furniture Company and chairs from DZINE—all grounded by a Merida rug.Photos by John Merkl.

The foyer sets the tone, with a circular mirror composed of 20 oxidized iron discs and a curvy side table, both by Arteriors, injecting a touch of blue. A bench from Coup D’Etat is upholstered in a nubby fabric and topped with solid and patterned maroon pillows. Hohla loved the black-and-white Ann Sacks marble floor tile so much, she later used it in her own bathroom. Another favorite: Hersh Design’s Hex Ring chandelier, available through De Sousa Hughes. “Everyone always wants their entry, even if it’s small, to have that ‘wow’ moment,” says Hohla. “This chandelier has a lot of presence and is jewel-like.” Bonus: The diameter and the drop can be customized, making it ideal for average-height ceilings, while accommodating the door swing.

The ground floor also contains a family/media room, whose walls are sheathed in a navy Phillip Jeffries grasscloth. Hits of color come courtesy of Troscan steel side tables with lacquered coral tops and a prismatic work by photographer Barbara Vaughn, who is represented by Dolby Chadwick Gallery. The 12-foot sofa by Joseph Jeup—upholstered in a black, gray and white woven—easily accommodates the whole family, plus friends. Tucked beneath the Urban Hardwood coffee table, which features an acrylic leg on one side for a floating effect, are navy hide-on-hair benches that easily roll out to serve as seating or ottomans. A pair of Avenue Road chairs, covered in a triangular pattern by Romo, and Olivya Stone marble side tables complete the design—all atop a custom Vaheed Taheri rug.

The powder room is packed with personality, thanks to a Giardini wallcovering, Matthew Fairbank Design sconce, Porta Romana infinity mirror and Lawson-Fenning vanity. Photos by John Merkl.

One level up, the living room, dining area and kitchen flow into one another in an expansive space. Hohla visually connected the three with her choice of materials and finishes. Marble, for example, appears in the living room (fireplace mantel, side tables from Noir) and the kitchen (Calacatta countertops). A Phillip Jeffries wallcovering with a silver background wraps around the living and dining rooms. Blue elements abound: window treatments by Leong Interiors made with a Romo print; a round coffee table from The Future Perfect with a blue lacquered top; swivel dining chairs from DZINE, in gray and pale blue leather; and a large-scale abstract by Tom Lieber, from Dolby Chadwick Gallery. In the living room, Hohla introduced a vibrant note with a vintage-inspired chair upholstered in a persimmon woven. “The woven has some white in it, so it adds softness and the color doesn’t scream,” explains Hohla. Above the Skram dining table, the sculptural Christopher Boots chandelier, found at Coup D’Etat, makes a strong statement.

In the primary bedroom—illuminated by an Aquitaine chandelier from Coup D’Etat—an Emma Hayes wallpaper takes center stage along with a custom Mark Nelson rug and Parker Burkhart nightstands. Photos by John Merkl.
Hohla combined gray cabinetry with marble (countertop, walls and floor tiles) for a “simple and timeless” primary bathroom; the Benjamin Anderson painting is from Simon Breitbard Fine Arts. Photos by John Merkl.

The chandelier informed Hohla’s selection of the trio of Gabriel Scott pendant lamps in the neighboring kitchen. “I wanted something clean,” she says. “My intention was to keep the metals in the darker family.” The faceted double-blown glass fixtures are gripped by steel—the same material as the frames of the stools placed at the island. Hohla’s updates in the kitchen were mostly cosmetic, with the layout and appliances remaining intact; the previously white cabinetry was painted light gray.

Also on this floor of the house, she overhauled the powder room. “The client was up for making it edgy and fun,” Hohla recalls. The Giardini wallcovering from Sloan Miyasato served as the jumping-off point for her design—the blue from the pattern guiding the color of the vanity by Lawson-Fenning, which she mated with a countertop composed of Striato Grigio from Da Vinci Marble. A Matthew Fairbank Design geometric sconce casts a warm glow, while “the infinity mirror is a nice surprise when guests walk in,” says Hohla of the hexagon-shaped Porta Romana piece.

Since the top-floor guest bedroom includes a Murphy bed, Hohla opted for furniture that can easily be moved around—such as a Bright Chair settee from De Sousa Hughes, Urban Hardwood live-edge tables, vintage Edward Wormley armchairs and a Made Goods side table. Photos by John Merkl.

The top level is primarily the clients’ domain, with their suite and a spare bedroom that the homeowners utilize as a sitting room/hangout space “99 percent of the time,” according to Hohla, adding that the vibe upstairs is consistent with the rest of the residence. The bedroom is awash in blues and grays, including Emma Hayes wallpaper, a custom Mark Nelson rug and hide-on-hair Made Goods benches. Pops of maroon show up in the vintage glass table lamps as well as the patterned pillows adorning the bed and sofa. The adjoining bathroom— outfitted with gray cabinetry, marble surfaces and Urban Electric sconces with blue backplates—fulfills the clients’ desire for a “simple and timeless” design.

With the majority of the project completed just before the pandemic, the clients have continually expressed their gratitude to Hohla over the past year and a half. “Spending so much time at home,” she says, “they’ve really noticed all the details and are so appreciative of how everything works together.”

The ground-level family/media room—anchored by a Joseph Jeup sofa, Urban Hardwood coffee table, Avenue Road chairs and Vaheed Taheri rug—opens onto the garden, which includes furniture from Restoration Hardware.
Photos by John Merkl.