Step Inside Art Advisor Holly Baxter's Modern-Day Salon
The 19th-century salons of Europe catalyzed creative culture; poet Stéphane Mallarmé’s celebrated Tuesday night gatherings, for example, saw painters and writers sharing work, debating aesthetics and, no doubt, imbibing. When contemplating the design of her new home, art advisor Holly Baxter knew she wanted it to be a place where she could welcome friends and clients; showcase her collection of emerging artists and, last but not least, renew after her frequent travels to artists’ studios, galleries and fairs around the globe. She called upon her friend, Lindsay Brier of Anyon Interior Design, to transform her top-floor perch in a charming Edwardian building into a modern-day salon.
Working with the existing architectural elements, including elegant period picture moldings original to the 1918 building, they gravitated toward classic Parisian style. In the living room, Brier chose a neutral palette, and the only patterning, in the strié rug, serves as a unifying element. A contemporary white sectional is paired with a modern brass bench and a shapely gray velvet Art Deco chair, and Brier found a brass vintage coffee table with a tulip base that evoked Baxter’s feminine, streamlined style. The large-paned windows flood the space with light, illuminating the pure white walls and ebony floors. Brier deliberately kept things understated, noting, “I exercised a lot of restraint and did not overdo or over-decorate.”
The living room extends into a formal dining room, where a modern cut-crystal chandelier, a statement glamour piece, was hung high above the dining table and chairs; Brier kept the seating low-backed so that the art could be appreciated from the living room. The adjacent bar and kitchen are equally chic spots for entertaining guests.
In the glamorous master bedroom, muted tones echo the hues in a piece by Tiffany Bozic. A work by Italian artist Vasco Bendini is especially meaningful, as Baxter arranged a New York exhibition of his work. Adding to the allure of the space, Alcatraz searchlights cast their glow on her bedroom walls at night, and a fireplace provides warmth on chilly evenings.
Down the hallway, in a secluded side wing, is Baxter’s so called “girl cave,” a cozy movie-watching room with inky brown walls with works hung salon-style. A taupe silk velvet sectional wraps the room, while shelves along two walls display sculpture, meaningful finds and art books.
By championing the art of emerging and mid-career artists, Baxter, who previously ran Restoration Hardware’s RH Gallery program, came to understand their practice as well as process. “I believe in supporting artists of our time,” she says. “I look for artists whose methods are innovative and conceptually bold, and who are technically accomplished.” Art plays such a starring role in her life that she named her beloved French Bulldog Marcel Duchamp, after the father of Conceptual art.
In creating a home that is a both a sanctuary for herself and her art, Baxter encourages others to seek out work with which they truly connect. “I think it’s more interesting to really search for artists whose work resonates with you,” she says. In turn, their work becomes the soul of the home.
A version of this article appeared in the October 2016 issue of SFC&G (San Francisco Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Salon Style.