Explore A San Francisco Home With Delightful Details


bold, modern artwork in the...

This San Francisco home's living room has a Vladimir Kagan sofa, custom nesting coffee table and dramatic modern artwork by Aldo Chaparro.

blue upholstered chairs in a...

Recovered in a blue-gray Rogers & Goffigon mohair, a pair of vintage Gianfranco Frattini armchairs found on 1stdibs face the living room’s nesting coffee table. The custom built-ins are dressed up with scalloped doors.

dark-walled dining room in a...

Katy Skelton’s delicate Perch Light hangs from the ceiling, which is painted in a bespoke finish by Katherine Jacobus Decorative Arts to match the cabinets. Set behind the custom dining table and RH’s leather Reynaux Slope chairs is a painting by Kibong Rhee.

glass-paned walls surround a dining...

In the dining room, three walls of glass-paned doors by Atelier Domingue Steel Windows & Doors ensure the space is filled with light. The moody-hued cabinetry is coated in Benjamin Moore’s Wrought Iron.

upholstered banquette in a contemporary...

A pair of Hank Lowenstein’s oak-and-rush Padova dining chairs from Hunt sidle up to the breakfast room’s custom table and channel-tufted banquette. Overhead is a trio of vintage pendants.

white kitchen with veined marble

Statuario Arabescato marble on the kitchen countertops, backsplash and hood makes for a striking backdrop. The custom cabinetry is by Blackheart Millwork. On the shelves, candleholders from Heath Ceramics join items the family has collected over the years.

child's playroom

The playroom’s ombre cabinets are painted Benjamin Moore’s White Chocolate, White Marigold and Mellowed Ivory, from top to bottom. A Candida Höfer photograph overlooks a Crate & Kids table and chairs atop Ann Sacks terrazzo floor tile.

black and white mural in...

Prior to designer Shannon Niehenke joining the project, the owners commissioned the black-and-white powder room mural by Katherine Jacobus Decorative Arts. The floating sink is crafted from a boldly veined marble.

a pool outside of an...

Yellow cedar decking surrounds the pool, from which the owners can take in stunning city views. Landscape designer Hyunch Sung selected drought-tolerant yet sculptural plantings for the border gardens.

There are certain types of clients—individuals with a great eye—who don’t always want a designer to take the lead on every decision,” says Shannon Niehenke. And, according to the designer, it’s in these rare partnerships where the magic really happens: “Sometimes a collaborative approach leads to a much more layered and personal home.” 

Take this early 20th-century San Francisco Craftsman perched atop a hill between the Castro and Noe Valley, a prime spot for breathtaking city views. The homeowners bought the fixer-upper in search of more space for their family. They took on the task of renovating the entire back half of the house during the pandemic, working with the team at Cardea Building Co. to give the historic section a glow up while adding a fourth-floor family room, rooftop deck and ground-level pool area. The wife used her inherent good taste to begin selections on showstopping marble slabs, wallcoverings, art and finishes. But as they delved deeper into the project, the busy professionals raising two young children decided they could benefit from the expertise of a designer to help unify elements and take the project over the finish line. Enter Niehenke, who came on board for the remaining furniture and finish selections. “The clients have the best taste of any nondesigner I know,” Niehenke says. “I admired their dedication to the project and felt inspired to bring that vision to life.” 

It was clear from the get-go that this wasn’t going to be a formulaic, matchy-matchy interior. The homeowners’ enviable collection of contemporary art, plus their fondness for Italian midcentury furniture, vintage light fixtures, ornately veined marble, and dazzling paint and wallpaper guaranteed some fun. “The owners wanted each room to feel special, and each space has a statement feature,” the designer says. “I helped to thoughtfully weave unique pieces into the streamlined interior, which added a sense of history and soul, while the modern furniture selections we made brought fresh notes of contemporary elegance.” 

Take the formal yet inviting living room: The stage was already set with a handsome fireplace surround, chevron wood floors and custom built-ins. The designer helped bring it all together with a pair of vintage chairs—reupholstered in a blue-gray mohair—and a custom whitewashed oak nesting coffee table. Sitting elegantly in the bay window, a curvy sofa mimics the scalloped edges of the cabinet fronts. Above the fireplace is a black stainless-steel artwork by Peruvian artist Aldo Chaparro made to resemble crumpled paper. “We bought this art together at auction and thought it would be an unexpected memorable piece for such a formal room,” Niehenke says.

The homeowners designed the playroom’s elegant walnut cabinets to accommodate space for a large-scale photograph by celebrated German artist Candida Höfer. Niehenke then had the cabinet fronts painted with subtle gradations of yellow to further customize the look. Terrazzo tile floors and child-sized midcentury-style furniture create a chic backdrop for play and creativity. 

In the compact but well-used backyard, the homeowners installed a pool with yellow cedar decking and then hired landscape designer Hyunch Sung to give a “sculptural and artistic” feel to the border gardens beside the retaining walls, Sung says. She opted for drought-tolerant flowering plants, such as tree anemone, yarrow, poppy and yerba buena, and installed small stone boulders in a tumbling configuration to honor the hillside setting. 

Back inside the home, the eye candy continues. The dining room is masculine and moody thanks to the black ceiling and cabinets, plus a set of sloped leather dining chairs. The main suite’s bespoke bed is upholstered in a blue-and-green fabric that evokes an antique tapestry, while the children’s rooms are covered in playful botanical wallcoverings. Even the fourth-floor family room, despite its neutral palette to keep city views center stage, is made chic with a bulbous sofa and shearling chair. 

Of the finished product, Niehenke says, “It is a refined, sophisticated interior, but it has personality. It’s not another beige house. Every room is thought through—down to the smallest detail.”