When it comes to the artworks displayed in tech executive Matt MacInnis and art adviser Jason Williams’ home, what is seen is subject to change. Like many collectors, they are constantly rearranging things, with new pieces being added while others go on loan to museums. “Art placement is a give and take,” Matt notes. “We acquire pieces we love and then find a spot for them. We also see blank spaces we want to fill and search for art that will fit.”
Given this ever expanding and rotating collection, when they purchased a property in need of some TLC, they wanted the architecture to act as a “base layer,” Matt recalls, where color would come courtesy of their acquisitions and furnishings. Their goal was to blend the classic style of the 1890s San Francisco Victorian with modern elements.
To that end, the couple enlisted John K. Anderson, a designer well-versed in breathing new life into old houses. Matt describes the dwelling as “a gem that had undergone several renovations over the past few decades that needed undoing.” For Anderson, this was a familiar challenge. Yet the designer, who worked with general contractor Jose Pacheco, approached with a gentle hand. “What’s really important to us as a firm is retaining the beautiful details,” Anderson explains. “We’re not big fans of coming into an old building and making it completely modern. We love adding contemporary elements but not top to bottom, because that takes away from a home’s origins.” And because preserving the dwelling’s historical features was so important, in some places the design team restored parts of the narrative that had been deleted, adding back period-appropriate pieces to achieve an authentic Victorian style. “Even small things like hinges and hardware make a big difference,” the designer notes.
Mere steps from the front door—which Anderson replaced with one of his own design inspired by a portal on a neighboring house—the parlor features original molding that draws the eye toward the 10-foot ceiling and a door casing that has remained intact for more than a century. The cool gray wall paint “has presence, but is a good backdrop for art,” Anderson says. He refinished the ornate ceiling medallion and then paired it with a sleek pendant light. “We always love the juxtaposition of styles,” he adds.
Indeed, striking modern lighting appears throughout the abode Matt and Jason share with their two young daughters. A sculptural, flashlight-like floor lamp stands watch in the entry, while Anderson describes the asymmetric composition of the stair landing’s wall sconce as “art as light.” In the family room, a geometric chandelier is suspended from the box-beamed ceiling. The space is then anchored by a generous sectional that serves both as seating and a discreet screen for the portion of the room designated as a children’s play area. Atop it, throw pillows in a graphic print imbue comfort and color.
The couple’s affinity for jewel tones informed the design schemes throughout. In their bedroom, a dark oak canopy bed with contrasting light upholstery is emboldened by richly hued decorative pillows as well as a patterned vintage rug. The breakfast room’s playful palette is noteworthy, too. A curved sofa upholstered in a powdery royal blue velvet is accented by the reddish tones of an hourglass-shaped accent table and custom Roman shades. Above, a cluster of drum pendants in varying hues illuminates the space. But it is a powder room that exhibits perhaps the most striking use of color: a multihued, kaleidoscopic wallcovering. “Jason and Matt are adventurous,” the designer says. “You definitely see that in here with the very active wallpaper.”
“When you have these collaborations with the client, the design is telling their story—in this case, their boldness with art and color—through our filter,” Anderson adds. “You are working with somebody else’s desires, opinions and experiences. You pull that all in and try to create something special—and I think we did.”