Starting Fresh


S.F-based MALONE breathes new life into a dated spec home for a young family

In the living room, a Gubi GMG Chaise Lounge faces a pair of the George chair from Lawson-Fenning. Photo by S.E.N. Creative Co.

“Studying architecture gave me understanding of the broader strokes of interior design—light, flow and space.  Whereas fashion, gave me an appreciation for detail which ultimately translates into anything from the layout of tile to the placement of a bathroom knob,” says Malone Detro of MALONE on how her diverse background contributes to the firm’s design philosophy.

A custom dining table by Osgood Designs is surrounded by a set of Fat dining chairs by Tom Dixon and sits below a chandelier by Cameron Crockford.Photo by S.E.N. Creative Co.

This approach is what appealed to a young family from Brooklyn, NY who recently moved to the Bay Area and were about to embark on their first major renovation of a 5,000-square-foot home in Hillsborough, CA. “The family loves entertaining, and together we created a home that they do not have to be afraid to live in,” says Detro. “Instead, the house acts as the catalyst for playful days and enlivened nights for years to come. “

A Solvay dining table by Vitra creates a more causal dining area near the kitchen.
Photo by S.E.N. Creative Co.
Lilac marble from Da Vinci marble sits below pendants by Allied Maker.
Photo by S.E.N. Creative Co.

Built in 1992 as a spec home, the exterior style was California Mediterranean while the interior was a blend of 2000s contemporary. “While some aspects had become outdated (fireplaces, bathrooms, kitchen) the bones of the house were still gorgeous and unique,” she notes. “My main approach to the space was to keep the original design intention relatively in tact while using materiality and custom detailing to bring it into the modern era.”

In the powder room, a pair of pendants from Worksetead flank a Gubi rectangular mirror.
Photo by S.E.N. Creative Co.

The overarching goal was to create clean and functional spaces that were fun and would grow with the family. “We gutted the kitchen, primary suite, bathrooms, and laundry room to rework the floor plans and create a better flow throughout,” says Detro.”Otherwise, it was just a matter of updating fixtures and materials to allow the original architecture to shine in a more modern light.”

A pair of Dual Cone sconces from Allied Maker shed light on the primary bed.
Photo by S.E.N. Creative Co.
Facing the bed is a custom fireplace surrounded by Kelly Wearstler’s Graffito wallpaper.
Photo by S.E.N. Creative Co.
Calacatta tile floors from Da Vinci line the primary bathroom floor and shower walls.
Photo by S.E.N. Creative Co.

Luckily the wife had an eye for art and color and a bold sense of design and allowed Detro and her team to create unique details in every room including notched oak bookshelves in the kids playroom, custom metal vanity railing and medicine cabinets in the primary bath and more. “Being all about materiality, it was important to me to let the material elements we brought in become the spot light,” says the designer. “The incorporation of concrete, blackened and powder coated steel, stone, and wood complimented the architect’s original white walls and clearstory windows throughout.”

A custom blackened steel fireplace by SF Metalworks is surrounded by custom built-ins designed by MALONE.

While the pandemic intermittently delayed phases of the design—during which the clients had to move in before the project was complete—they were still thrilled with every single touch. Detro notes, “I would receive excited messages and pictures as elements were being installed that made me feel like all the trials and tribulations we went through as designer and client were well worth it in the end.”