I spent Memorial day weekend enjoying family and friends and the treasure that is the San Francisco Decorator’s Showcase. The 37th annual showcase took over 3660 Jackson Street, a stunning 9,000 square foot mansion built in 1907 for the Sutro family and purchased last year for a cool $18 million.
A decorator’s showcase is an opportunity for designers to show their work, but also a chance to push boundaries, and the San Francisco Designer’s Showcase was no exception. There was A LOT of personality and boundary pushing going on this year. If last year’s collection was more about designing livable, artistically inspired spaces, this year’s was all about design as art… with much less emphasis on the livable part.
My appreciation tends to fall into the prior camp, and as such, it was some of the smaller rooms that really worked for me. A stand out was Regan Baker’s little boy’s room, which had a world-traveler vibe. Using the original linen wallpaper, she transformed the space into a 4-year old’s dream with a tented bed that expands to fill the entire room. And lining the closet with a world map was a stroke of clever genius. Plus she was super sweet to boot!
“Lily’s Pad”, a pre-teen room designed by Tineke Triggs, was darling (although I could have done without the splatter paint ceiling), but it was the restroom that was the star. With a lacquered vanity, brass mirror and fixtures, and beautiful Moroccan inspired tile work, it offered a glamorous little retreat for any teenage girl.
And while we’re on the topic of bathrooms, I felt like there were some clever design ideas going on. For instance, Jaime Belew used a creative approach in her master bathroom by creating a shower surround that showcased the space and brought in architectural detail. And her cat print with goldfish below was a witty remark in an otherwise formal setting.
Also, the small sitting room off the main entrance bathroom was a sumptuous space, harking back to the days of formal waiting rooms where one could “touch themselves up”. It felt very glamorous.
The kitchen, House Beautiful’s Kitchen of the Year, was not my style, but had several very cool ideas to take away. It was entirely black (mmm…no me gusta), but the herringbone tile pattern was chic, as was the massive fig tree on the counter. I also thought the idea of side-by-side ovens was genius for those who don’t have the wall space for double stacked ones, and the led mini light strips on the inner facing of the glass cabinets was so smart! You have great lighting that isn’t obstructed by shelving as you would if it were lit from the top.
I think one of the most serene and smart spaces was actually the potter’s shed. Designer Randy McDannell incorporated equal measures of form and function, each choice made to create a feeling of bringing the outdoors in while also making sure the space was actually usable for it’s purpose. Bravo to that!
A few other design highlights include the cow hide gold flecked rug in the entry, the table setting and superb tailoring on the formal dining table (the wallpaper was AH-MAZ-INg, but original to the space), and the outdoor concrete sofa (it was heated—perfect for foggy mornings and evenings).
Unfortunately, some of the spaces just didn’t work for me.
The foyer and sitting vestibule by Jane Richardson-Mack and John Romaidis was a miss. While I loved the color palette, the styling and fabric choices felt cheap to me.
Also, the music room by Steve Henry and Michael Booth of BAMO just didn’t work. There were major issues with scale and styling. But the light fixture was cool, so I guess there’s that.
And don’t get me started on the “artist’s retreat”. It may be one of the laziest designs I’ve ever seen. I will never be sold on the idea that paint splattered all over subflooring and tacking burlap to the walls as drapery are “creative choices”.
All in all, I enjoyed my time perusing the spaces and getting some ideas to incorporate into my own designs. I will also say that I know it’s much easier to arm-chair judge when one isn’t confronted with the actual work, so a big kudos is in order for all designers for stepping up to the task.
However, burlap tacked to the walls as drapery never works. Like, ever.