Singular Sensation


Martin Young’s out-of-the-box thinking takes a condo from meh to marvelous

In the living/dining area, a Cees Braakman secretary appears with a trio of mid-century volcanic lava-glazed vessels, a 1980s marble lamp by Tobia Scarpa and four framed works by a Japanese artist whose creations incorporate wood shavings.
Photos by Jose Manuel Alorda.

Upon initially visiting his clients’ Burlingame pied-à-terre, interior designer Martin Young was struck by how “very ordinary looking” it was, he says, and wondered: How do you elevate this? Now, thanks to the custom and vintage elements that the San Francisco-based interior designer introduced, the new-build condo—which offers its owners a shorter commute to their Silicon Valley jobs than their primary residence on the north side of San Francisco—“reflects the clients and their tastes,” he notes. “We gave it an identity.”

The pantry closet doors are painted in two Farrow & Ball hues—Cook’s Blue 237 and Drawing Room Blue 253. Photos by Jose Manuel Alorda.

With versatility in mind, Young outfitted the living room with four armchairs and a pair of ottomans, all of which are covered in an unconventional material: vintage Turkish flat-weave rugs in a plaid motif. Young’s tactic was inspired by Finland’s Villa Hvitträsk, a country estate shared by the families of three architects, including Eliel Saarinen. There, in at least a couple of instances, the floor covering is a continuation of the textile on the seating. “I thought it’d be really interesting to make upholstery out of rugs and had been playing with that idea for a long time,” says Young.

The dining room is a study in shapes and geometry, with a low vintage bench and 1960s chairs, along with a sculptural table and graphic wall art that Young devised.
Photos by Jose Manuel Alorda.

His ingenuity is further on display in the dining room. The table is his own design, fabricated from an antique rectangular slab of mahogany whose revival by Young is distinctly sculptural. He mated it with curved 1960s Rudolf Wolf dining chairs reupholstered in olive leather. Young also created the large-scale art on the wall by repurposing two antique chalkboards.

Goods purchased from mainstream retailers were customized as well. In the bedroom, Young refinished a pair of Restoration Hardware nightstands in an almost-black hue by Farrow & Ball. A bed frame from Urban Outfitters was recovered in a green Turkish rug. Young then layered in unique touches such as vintage Wim Rietveld lamps from Axel Vervoordt in Belgium; an antique boro, a Japanese textile that has been patched together; and Space Notation 2, a mixed-media work by Cullen Washington, Jr.

A Cullen Washington, Jr., piece occupies the bedroom, along with a bed from Urban Outfitters that Young transformed with a Turkish rug. Photos by Jose Manuel Alorda.

With a lot of newly completed condos, the bathrooms can be especially humdrum. In this case, however, Young injected personality with a Moroccan rug, a Japanese stool and a series of drawings created by an artist friend of the clients. The interior designer also managed to upgrade the pantry closet’s sliding doors, painting them two shades of blue.

The ink-on-paper drawings in the bathroom were done by an artist friend of the homeowner. Photos by Jose Manuel Alorda.

By embracing even the typically mundane, Young gave his clients a one-of- a-kind weekday home that’s uniquely them. Although there are focal points throughout the interiors, the end result “doesn’t feel like a bunch of different vignettes,” he says, “but rather one cohesive story.” – Anh-Minh Le