How An Interior Designer Created Her Own San Francisco Dream Home


Family Matters

Smitten with a 1930s Spanish Colonial-style house in San Francisco, interior designer Maria Haidamus created a personalized home of her own. “The moment I saw the house, it transported me to a different time and place,” says Haidamus.

Intricate Metal Gate Opening to a Spanish Colonial

Designer Maria Haidamus kept the existing entry door and surrounding tile just as it was for her family’s 1930s Spanish Colonial-style home in San Francisco. She designed an intricate metal gate that opens onto the grounds.

Warm White Walls in the Arched Entrance Foyer

The first time Haidamus walked into the entrance foyer, which steps down into the living room, she knew all the walls in the home should be painted a warm white. She selected Farrow & Ball’s Great White, which allows the architectural details to stand out. The colorful Bokja chair is from Beirut, Lebanon, where the designer grew up.

In the living room at night, recessed lights tucked between the ceiling beams provide a warm glow from above. “Whether we have 100 people or just the five of us in here, there is enough seating to bring everyone together,” says Haidamus. A custom hefty wood coffee table serves as a well-used resting place for clusters of candles, snacks or games, while a fully stocked bar beckons guests to help themselves.

Vaulted Ceiling Living Room with Giant Map of Paris and Fireplace

An existing two-tier chandelier and imposing wood beams accented with gargoyles from a 14th-century Spanish monastery draw the eye 16 feet upward to the ceiling of the living room, which Haidamus designed with the idea of accommodating large groups. The impressive Paris map anchors a seating area that includes an extra-long sofa and a pair of equally expansive custom built-in banquettes on either side of the replace.

Haidamus furnished the living room with a
B&B Italia sofa and leather-upholstered wing chairs by Jacques Garcia for Baker. The home’s original chandelier hangs above a custom coffee table made by Altura that Haidamus designed. An antique map of Paris spans one wall.

Custom Upholstered Banquettes from the Designer Herself

“The upholstery is comfortable and soft, so people are inclined to sit and stay.” 

Haidamus designed custom banquettes that fit into two corners of the living room and upholstered them with a Larsen linen from
Cowtan & Tout. She selected the large-scale sconces for their proportion and style.

Powder Room with Pierced Morocan Pendant

Although she kept the majority of the architecture just as it was, Haidamus gave the first-floor powder room a complete overhaul with the help of builders Shay Lyons and Noel Morgan. The tight space was visually expanded with a full-length mirror framed with metal ceiling tiles. Ceramic Spanish tiles were installed on the floor to resemble a rug, and a cylinder-shape Corian sink does triple duty: It takes up minimal space, acts as a sculpture and conceals unsightly plumbing. A Moroccan pendant casts light from above. “Maria worked magic in that room,” says Lyons. “She created a tall, airy feeling in a small space. It looks simple, but only because it was very well-designed.” 

Haidamus worked with builders Shay Lyons and Noel Morgan to revamp the first-floor powder room. Metal ceiling tiles frame a mirror that reflects a Moroccan lantern. The Boffi sink pairs with a Dornbracht faucet.

Dining Room with a Collaborative Bird Wall Installation

“People are very drawn to the birds, and they like to move them. It’s always a conversation piece.” The furnishings were kept to a minimum in the dining room to keep the focus on the food, the conversation and the view. But Haidamus worked with artist Maya Kini to design something special for the focal wall. The artist came up with a fluid installation of birds in flight. The metal birds are magnetic and easily movable, so the arrangement is constantly changing. “I wanted an element of surprise,” says Haidamus.  

Chairs wearing slipcovers made with a
Calvin Fabrics linen surround a table made of recycled Brazilian wood in the dining room; the imposing chandelier is original to the house. Haidamus worked with artist Maya Kini to create the metal bird installation.

Distinctive Kitchen with Honeycomb Concrete Floor.

The most significant changes Haidamus made to the house were in the kitchen, which now holds special meaning for her. “It’s our family’s headquarters,” she says. “It’s where we cook, eat and where the kids do homework. It’s also a great place to entertain.” Pots that hang from the ceiling behind a recycled wooden beam and a window seat upholstered with a textile brought back from Lebanon lend a casual, comfortable charm. A trio of glass-orb clusters—sculptures Haidamus bought in Syria while traveling with her brother several years ago—not only became light fixtures after she had them wired, but they also provided the perfect finishing touch. 

In the distinctive kitchen,
Emeco counter chairs pull up to a custom walnut island by Christopher Peacock topped with Calacatta marble by Fox Marble. The concrete floor tiles are by Country Floors, and Haidamus fashioned the window seat’s cushion cover from a textile she found in Lebanon.

Kitchen Filled with a Warm Green Hue and Marble Backsplash

Green-painted cabinets and a floor made of concrete tiles meant to look like terra cotta balance the coolness of the marble countertops and stainless-steel appliances.

Haidamus chose a warm green hue, Ball Green by Farrow & Ball, to paint the kitchen’s cabinets and opted for glass-front doors in some spaces. Calacatta marble tiles by
Walker Zanger line the backsplash.

Veranda to Dine Alfresco and Take in a View

The Spanish Colonial-style dwelling offers sweeping views that reach the Pacific Ocean. “The spaces and proportions were beautiful, and the Spanish-style architecture reminded me of visits my family took to the countryside of Spain and Italy while growing up in Beirut, Lebanon. The bones were exactly what I was dreaming of in a house. I fell in love with it instantly.”

The house’s veranda offers a sheltered space to dine alfresco and to take in the view. A dining table and chairs by
Baker face a mirror Haidamus found at a Paris flea market. The designer worked with Mike Boss of Rock & Rose Landscapes on the potted plants.

Olympus Green Master Bedroom with View and Vaulted Ceiling

Haidamus painted a wall of the master bedroom with Olympus Green by Benjamin Moore and anchored the space with an Alcova canopy bed and low- profile nightstands, all by Maxalto. The window shade was made with a Calvin Fabrics cotton.

​It was 3 a.m. in San Francisco when designer Maria Haidamus made an urgent call from France to her husband, Ramzi. She was at a flea market and had found a piece of art for their new home. She needed a measurement pronto. “We had barely moved in and didn’t have much furniture, but I found a large hand-drawn map of Paris with amazing detail,” she says. “I woke up my husband and asked him to measure the living room wall. It was the first thing I bought for the house. After that, everything fell into place.”

Haidamus was eager to tackle the task of designing her dream home within the  architectural shell of a 1930s Spanish Colonial-style house that included vaulted ceilings, iron railings and exposed-wood beams. But she was mindful of marrying her desire to be creative with the practical needs of a family home. “I wanted my house to be beautiful, but I didn’t want a showcase,” she says. “We entertain a lot, so I wanted it to be comfortable and livable for my family and for guests, but I also wanted it to be aesthetically pleasing.”

To achieve this delicate balance of old-world-meets-California-cool, Haidamus took her cues from the architecture, making design choices that would highlight the details rather than compete with them—walls were painted white and furnishings kept clean-lined and simple. The neutral walls became a backdrop for a mix of organic textures and finishes, treasures brought back from travels and touches of saturated, Mediterranean-inspired colors.

The most significant changes Haidamus made to the house were in the kitchen, which now holds special meaning for her. “It’s our family’s headquarters,” she says. “It’s where we cook, eat and where the kids do homework. It’s also a great place to entertain.”

“I really cherish the kitchen,” she says. “Every single piece—the pendant lights, the fabric from home, the cookbooks from our travels, the island I designed to fit all five of us—means something to me. It’s authentic, and it’s us, and it’s where we gather with family and friends. It truly is the heart of the home.”

–Terri Sapienza