A Modern San Francisco Home with an Old-World Aesthetic


Modern Neutral Patio with Infinity-Edge Pool

The infinity-edge swimming pool by Aquascape looks to the lush treetops, the scenic mountains and the blue sky, elements that mark the area’s inspirational landscape.

Modern Cream Terrace with Circular Sofa

A terrace, which connects to the family room, offers a comfortable spot to enjoy the grounds on a circular sofa by Janus et Cie. The two pendants are by Phoenix Day.

Modern Cream Bathroom with Faceted Onyx Tub

A commanding faceted tub, which was carved in Italy from white onyx, anchors the master bathroom, where Shoji screens slide open to reveal a view of the picturesque landscape. The side table is by Holly Hunt.

Modern White Bedroom with Velvet-Upholstered Daybed

In the master bedroom, a handwoven rug from Tony Kitz Gallery anchors a velvet-upholstered daybed and a canopy bed, both by Ironies from Kneedler-Fauchère. Paola Lenti’s sofa and chair from Dzine stand on the balcony.

Modern Neutral Library with View of Outdoor Sculpture

In the library—which features a view of a Deborah Butterfield sculpture in the landscape—a chair and footrest from Dzine upholstered with blue material by Jerry Pair Leather coordinate with a bronze table designed by Philip and Kelvin LaVerne from Cristina Grajales Gallery in New York. The Hervé Van der Straeten pendant is from Maison Gerard in New York.

Modern White Dining Room with Gold Console

The dining room showcases a Venini glass chandelier hanging above a Wilkinson-designed table fabricated by C. Mariani Antiques, Restoration & Custom. The chairs by Cliff Young Ltd. are upholstered with Donghia fabrics. The oil painting is by Dirk De Bruycker.

Modern White Kitchen with Glass Breakfast Table

A Christopher Boots chandelier from The NWBLK hangs above a custom table by Hudson Furniture in the kitchen’s breakfast area. Alvar Aalto pendants light a large marble island by Omnistone Masonry. The oak floors are by First, Last & Always.

Modern Neutral Family Room with Striped Bergère Chair

In the family room, a Holly Hunt sofa from Kneedler-Fauchère pairs with vintage Robert Haussmann chairs from Habité in Los Angeles. A coffee table by Scala Luxury stands near Minotti’s Jensen bergère chair and ottoman from Arkitektura. The striped fabric is by Travers.

Modern Neutral Game Room with Yellow Armchairs

Wilkinson appointed the game room with sculptural furnishings, including Warren Platner armchairs from Design Within Reach and a custom Ironies drum table from Kneedler-Fauchère. Linsteadt employed a large window framed with steel to flood the space with sunlight.

Modern White Staircase with Handblown Fixture

A custom-designed sculptural light fixture descends from the top of the main staircase to the bottom. Created by Jeff Zimmerman, the fixture is made from handblown baking soda glass and patinated bronze.

Modern White Front Elevation with Paloverde Trees

Designer Kendall Wilkinson and architect Ken Linsteadt recreated a home in the San Francisco Bay Area to integrate easily with the surrounding landscape. Desert Museum paloverde trees, selected by landscape architects Ron Lutsko, Jr. and Terri McFarland, frame the approach to the residence.

Modern Neutral Hallway with Bleached Oak Flooring

There are bleached European-oak plank floors throughout the house, and most of the walls display a textured plaster that catches the sunlight as it pours through the windows. The same split-faced limestone used on the exterior reappears on the walls of the foyer as a way to unify the indoor and outdoor spaces.

Modern White Rear Elevation with Flat Roof

Linsteadt reworked the structure, with builder Glen Sherman, into rectilinear forms topped with flat roofs. The modernist chaise lounges and side table are by Paola Lenti from Dzine.

A landscape can exist as a magnificent backdrop for a house. Or, a home and its surroundings can blend so seamlessly that you sometimes forget whether you’re inside or out. Of course, the great midcentury modern designers and architects had this idea in mind when they employed sliding glass doors, large window systems and open floor plans. But when designer Kendall Wilkinson and architect Ken Linsteadt recreated a house in the Bay Area, they had more in mind: a home that looks as if it were crafted from the very earth around it. “There are sweeping vistas of rolling hills and a beautiful sky,” Wilkinson says. “The light is golden and the landscape is ocher. We wanted to create something that would let the clients easily float in and out of that and feel the peacefulness of the landscape even when they’re inside.”

The clients, a couple and their young son, were living nearby when they discovered the property. Drawn to the beauty and solitude of the site, they purchased it and called Wilkinson. “I’d previously designed a home for this family,” she says. “They’re curious, intelligent and very interested in high-quality design and art. They wanted their new house to reflect that.” But before Wilkinson could begin placing the work of great designers and artists, she needed a great architect. The designer realized the house should be significantly reworked and knew Linsteadt was the right person for the job.

“It was Mediterranean in style,” says Linsteadt. “But the wife wanted something modern; she showed me images of square houses with flat roofs.” The architect reconciled the two with a design that balances a modern style with an old-world aesthetic. “I’m always trying to achieve timelessness,” he says. “I thought about what a modern house built four hundred years ago might look like.” What bloomed from his imagination is a series of rectilinear forms clad with materials that evoke the landscape. There’s gold-toned Minnesota limestone, creamy-colored plaster and lots of glass framed lightly with steel. “It was an epic remodel,” says the architect, who practically took the house down to its studs. “But I considered what was there.” One of the elements Linsteadt maintained was a sizable turret. “I loved its cylindrical form,” he says. “It reminded me of Le Corbusier’s great modern houses, so I played it up, making it a counterpoint to the linear forms.”

Landscape architect Terri McFarland, who worked with principal Ron Lutsko, Jr., thought of linear forms, too, when designing the home’s front terrain. “I created a plinth of long concrete walls and rows of Desert Museum paloverde trees to visually support the massing of the house,” she says. “The trees are lacy and open and they don’t obscure the architecture.”

Inside, Wilkinson and Linsteadt worked together to develop exactly the right materials for the interior architecture. “A house should look great without any furniture,” Wilkinson says. “The walls, floors, treatments and finishes should be incredible enough that if you took the building, shook it upside down and everything fell out, you’d be left with a beautiful canvas.” There are bleached European-oak plank floors throughout the house, and most of the walls display a textured plaster that catches the sunlight as it pours through the windows. Bronze fireplace inserts present as minimalist sculpture in the living room and near the pool. In addition, the same split-faced limestone used on the exterior reappears on the walls of the foyer as a way to unify the indoor and outdoor spaces. “It took time to realize what the materiality of the spaces would be,” builder Glen Sherman says. “We used many different textures and finishes,” construction manager Patrick McGuire adds, “but all of it came together as a cohesive look.”

Complementing that thoughtful backdrop, Wilkinson selected furnishings that would “bring the house to life with the personality of the various objects that are a reflection of the owners,” says the designer. The ocher-colored rugs and upholstered pieces she selected for the rooms further connect the indoor and outdoor spaces. “I added some green and blue tones because the clients’ son loves water,” she says. “You can’t get too crazy with color or the eye is unable to flow back and forth between the interiors and the landscape. I also didn’t include window treatments for the same reason.” The understated palette allows the iconic furniture and art to have the spotlight. For example, a framed view of a Deborah Butterfield sculpture in the landscape is seen from the library, where Wilkinson hung a bronze pendant by Hervé Van der Straeten above a midcentury bronze table designed by Philip and Kelvin LaVerne. In the entry, a massive metal-wire sculpture by Suzanne Tick pairs with an iron-and-glass buffet designed by Christophe Côme. The living room displays a Christian Liaigre chaise lounge, vintage Art Deco scallop-back armchairs covered with gold velvet, and a silvered-glass wall sculpture by Teresita Fernández. An enormous light fixture Wilkinson and Linsteadt designed and commissioned from Jeff Zimmerman features clusters of glass bubbles that cascade from the top of the stairwell down to the bottom.

“The furnishings are artful, but all are used in day-to-day living,” Wilkinson says. This is especially true of the massive tub custom-designed for the master bathroom. Made of faceted white onyx, it looks as if it were chiseled right out of the earth. “It’s exquisite, like so many of the things you see in and around this house,” Wilkinson says. “The home is a reflection of its owners. They are true connoisseurs and had a deep focus into studying and understanding the quality and craftsmanship behind the materials, furnishings and art. Their collaboration made it a truly enriching experience for everyone involved with the project.”

—Laura Mauk