A Noe Valley Victorian Gets a Stylish, Family-Friendly Upgrade



Homeowner Bonnie Smolins worked with friend and interior designer Regan Baker on her Noe Valley renovation.I collaborate closely with all my clients,” says interior designer Regan Baker, “but this project was special. From the beginning, it was a labor of love.” And, it quite literally, was: Baker and her client Bonnie Smolins first met when both were pregnant, and the fast friends went on to deliver just two months apart. Before long, Smolins had commissioned Baker to reconceptualize the Noe Valley house she shared with her husband and children, and both brought a similar vision to the project: a gut renovation with décor that is meticulously detailed yet feels bohemian. “Now, its stylishness belies how functional and family centric it all actually is,” says Smolins.

Baker’s interiors are intricate studies of a homeowner’s personality; so much so that a showhouse room she designed was once likened to one of Wes Anderson’s idiosyncratic film sets. She often comes up with her style concept after familiarizing herself with a client’s wardrobe, an approach particularly apropos in this case. “We have so many things in common,” says Baker of Smolins, “including a similar fashion sensibility.”

The pair sketched out every square inch of the building and discovered that the challenge with the 3,000-square-foot house was its hodgepodge of elements that likely dated back to its original 1906 construction. The main floor had three different ceiling heights (now all a uniform 9 feet, 4 inches), and the other two floors felt equally disjointed. They ultimately tore down every wall that wasn’t load bearing, and the home’s expansive feel is thanks to an inventive new floor plan—especially that of the loft-like first floor. Raised door heights also let in more light, as do additional windows and Bonelli folding glass doors that integrate a patio and kitchen and visually extend the master suite into the back garden. “Now there’s a flow on and between each floor that draws you in,” says Baker.

Pops of yellow enliven the master bedroom thanks to the Joybird bed and Anthropologie throw. Artwork includes sculpture by Matt Devine through Simon Breitbard Fine Arts, an oil painting by Andrew Lesko and photograph by Danielle Mourning.They stayed within the existing footprint and roof structure so the Victorian still feels true to period, but without being too literal. Apart from an occasional ceiling rosette, there’s no explicit acknowledgement of Victorian architecture. Instead, panels applied to the walls have a shadowy relief that brings to mind an even earlier period of French boiserie and serve as a veiled reference to Smolins’ Canadian heritage, as do the black-grouted subway tiles, with their distinctly bistro vibe, and wallpaper with a novel take on Toile de Jouy that depicts urban scenes instead of traditional pastoral landscapes. Throughout, lightly stained wood flooring in a chevron pattern is also reminiscent of Parisian hôtels particuliers.

By contrast, the relocated kitchen is sleek and streamlined. Outfitted with Caesarstone, walnut and stainless steel, it’s clean-lined and clutter free. “We even measured my kitchen gear to make sure it would fit into the new cabinetry,” says Smolins. Deep-seated sectional sofas, retro chairs and textural wood surfaces are chic and functional against vegetable-dyed rugs and delightful pops of color. Artwork by local photographers like Jessica Todd Harper, Parker Fitzgerald and Danielle Mourning is hung sparingly and adds a layer of drama, edge and nostalgia. “I tend to edit more and more,” says Baker. “I like to let the eye rest and savor things.” Smolins fully appreciates being the recipient of every carefully considered nuance. “Every time I walk through the front door, I breathe a sigh of relief,” she says. “This is my dream home and I did it all with my friend!”

A version of this article appeared in the September 2017 issue of SFC&G (San Francisco Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: A Confidante Redesign.

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Landscape Spotlight

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Rosalia Sanni
Rosalia Sanni is an award-winning landscape designer whose approach strikes a balance between architecture, nature and people. Comprehensive services include master planning, construction, administration, furniture souring, and an open dialogue that often continues after completion. Rosalia believes that good design enhances people's lives profoundly, and should offer more than a collection of beautiful pictures. Landscapes should suit the people who inhabit them in a meaningful, fun and deeply personal way.

Rosalia Sanni Design

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Architect Spotlight

Consiglio Builders
Consiglio Builders is a luxury residential construction company located on the East End of Long Island. We have developed a unique method of residential construction in the Hamptons—we call it "The Considered Approach." It stems from our experience which demonstrates that meticulous planning and transparency throughout the process, combined with our expertise and emphasis on perfection, enable us to deliver consistently the best-constructed homes on time and within budget to our discerning clientele.


 

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James Merrell Architects 
From our perspective in the 21st century, all styles are historical. Even Modernism is now a century old. So, we are free to interpret, and interweave the minimal with the decorative to find new expressions for our own era. Our house celebrates this new design freedom. It brings a contemporary sensibility to the architectural covenants of this otherwise traditional neighborhood. Floor to ceiling glass on the ground floor, for instance, yields modern interior spaces. While above, divided windows sit comfortably in second floor dormers. And the style that results is both unique and timeless.


Bates Masi + Architects
Bates Masi + Architects LLC, a full-service architectural firm with roots in New York City and the East End of Long Island for over 50 years, responds to each project with extensive research in related architectural fields, material, craft and environment for unique solutions as varied as the individuals for whom they are designed. The focus is neither the size nor the type of project but the opportunity to enrich lives and enhance the environment.

Bates+Masi Architects
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