May 22, 2024

The thing about living in an old property with great (if worn-out) bones is deciding when and how to give it a new lease on life. For one writer-photographer couple in San Francisco, the tipping point was the near death of their kitchen, which, as interior designer Christine Lin puts it, was, “shall we say, nonresponsive.” The Shingle-style house dates to 1906 and the couple, empty nesters with adult children, have lived in one of its three flats for years. “They really love the place and it is meant to be their forever home,” says Christine, the founder and principal of San Francisco–based AD PRO Directory design studio Form + Field, whom the couple connected with via a mutual acquaintance. But with the way things were going, forever was a stretch. The layouts were dysfunctional, the bathrooms lacked energy, and the walls were worse for wear. As the couple saw it, the only way to bring the home back to life was to summon it into the present while honoring its past.

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One side of the family room masquerades as a mini office, dining area, or whatever is needed for the moment. The space is outfitted with a wood table from the owners’ own collection and vintage Angelo Mangiarotti Tre 3 chairs from 1stDibs.

The inspiration was a collected artist’s retreat. “Given that the clients are both creatives, we imagined lots of playful color and pattern,” says Christine, whose first order of business was updating the original Shingle-style architecture with cleaner details and finishes. As for the palette, the designer looked across the pond, mining details from across the Mediterranean. “They were inspired by their honeymoon to Italy many years ago, and love rich colors and warmth. That really informed our palette,” avers the designer, who brought the memory to life with a combination of the couple’s existing furnishings, photographs taken by the husband, and the couple’s art collection, which had so far had little room to shine. She and her team—which included designers Gabrielle Barnard-Eads and Claire Riordan—also added new vintage gems to the mix, which they accommodated on custom shelves in the kitchen, alongside the couple’s prized book collection. “The wife does a lot of her writing in there, so it was important to make it feel more snug than a typical kitchen,” Christine says of the space.

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Warm tones and stripes reminiscent of an Italian vacation continue with the kitchen storage.

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