Throwing ShadesAuthor:Anh-Minh Le
From moody blues to lively violet, carefully considered color injects personality into a home
In the leafy suburb of Burlingame sits a charming Colonial-style home, its facade characterized by shingles, dormers and columns. The quaint exterior belies what awaits inside: modern living, often with bold schemes—rooms that make a statement. (The wainscoting and red oak floors are no more.)
“It was a fun project in that it was more of a color story,” says interior designer Kristen Pena, who notes that her San Francisco firm, K Interiors, is not necessarily known for vibrant palettes, but rather integrating texture to create interest and depth. “It was fun for us to branch out. As you go through the house, there are hits of blue, pink, purple and green. Foundationally, things are somewhat neutral, but we used color to punctuate each of the spaces.”
Take the kitchen, where Pena painted the existing cabinetry in Benjamin Moore’s Silvery Moon. The color here comes courtesy of the new countertops and backsplash, composed of Lilac marble from Da Vinci Marble. “We wanted it to be dramatic,” explains Pena. “[The clients] were really brave in choosing a purple vein. It was a big decision, and I think it made it so much more fun than using a standard Calacatta.”
Elsewhere on the ground floor, a powder room is striking in green, with walls lined in Porter Teleo’s Kintsugi motif, its mottled background accented with gold linework. Upstairs, the primary bathroom is awash in serene blue-gray tones combined with white walls and a custom blackened steel shower enclosure by Chambers Art & Design. Various textures and patterns are introduced in the tile choices, among them the geometric Sail mosaic—a mix of Thassos, bianco Carrara and Bardiglio marbles, from Artistic Tile.
In the adjacent bedroom, while Pena sought to conjure a soothing environment as well, she took a different approach, aiming for “something moody and ethereal,” she says of the respite for the clients, who have three kids. Decorative artist Caroline Lizarraga hand- painted the walls and ceiling, resulting in
what Pena calls “a masterpiece. It’s almost like clouds and stormy skies. We kept the stormy parts lower so it still feels airy and beautiful.” A custom blackened walnut bed with brass inlays, window treatments in gray mohair and a sofa upholstered in a “turquoise-y blue-gray” velvet add to the room’s splendor.
As showstopping as the bedroom is, the dining room rivals its wow factor. “It’s like a jewel box,” says Pena, who, in addition to enlisting Lizarraga’s talents once again, modified the room’s arches to yield a more contemporary, rounder curve. Upon entering the house, through one of those arches, the dining room comes into view. Its dark blue walls, accented with gold drips, draw you in. “Since it’s in the center of the house and there are white spaces around it,” Pena elaborates, “they were open to the dining room being a little sexier and sophisticated.” Along with Lizarraga’s handiwork, Apparatus Studio’s Cloud chandelier catches the eye, with its brass chain and frosted glass spheres. “It allows everything else to be understated,” says Pena. The fixture presides over a custom blackened oak table by Andrew Woodside Carter and Carl Hansen & Søn white oak chairs. The white drapes, a Rosemary Hallgarten micro bouclé sheer, carry over into the living room— as do the blue hues (in the rug from Tony Kitz Gallery, for example).
Reflecting on this undertaking, Pena shares that the clients initially came across her work on Instagram and gravitated toward a particular residence “with not a lot of color in it, but they liked the approachability and use of space.” Since the wife prefers neutrals and the husband favors bright colors, Pena was tasked with a bit of a balancing act—and was clearly up for the challenge. “We always take our design in the direction of the client,” she says. “So each project has a different pull away from what our standard style might have been or how we would have approached the house if it was our own. This one was really about color.”