As decades pass, homes can grow in their soulfulness, cultivating a patinated charm that can’t be replicated. However, living in a vintage abode need not feel like a museum. Timeworn character can gain fresh vitality alongside thoughtful additions.
That’s what one young family envisioned for their 1922 Spanish-style home in the Bay Area. They treasured the original stone fireplaces, curved wrought-iron staircase and antique doorbell chimes. But instead of strictly adhering to the dwelling’s stylistic origins, they wanted to inscribe their own chapter into this storied place, making room for something new. “We were never trying to be matchy-matchy,” says interior designer Regan Baker, who composed a cohesive vision from the couple’s varied tastes. “We made a conscious effort to preserve what was there while also creating an eclectic feel.”
The clients gravitated to this approach following their experience at the famed El Fenn in Morocco. Though the hotel retains the authentic architectural features of its riad, the interior is far from traditional, combining midcentury modern furnishings, contemporary artwork and handcrafted accents. This integration of dynamic styles within a classic regional framework “became a great jumping-off point for our overall project,” Baker notes.
Work began with fortifying the hacienda’s historical details. The construction team carefully restored the original windows and doors, leaving in place the vivid chartreuse color on the front entry to establish the residence’s playful personality at the start. Alterations focused on harmonizing disjointed elements, such as ebonizing the staircase’s different woods into a uniform finish that matches the railing. This also included reevaluating the contemporary kitchen, which was a marked departure from the home’s 1920s features. To soften the boxy lacquered cabinetry, the design team incorporated dark walnut and a textured tile backsplash.
Overall, Baker believed any new additions needed to equal the abode’s century-old craftsmanship. Nodding to the couple’s time in Marrakesh, the designer enlivened the bathrooms with traditional Moroccan zellige tile, like the iconic mosaic pattern in the powder room. The installation proved a painstaking process, as each piece “had to be laid according to a hand-drawn diagram,” notes builder Rich Robb. The traditional application was “certainly a first for us, but the finished product produced a beautiful old-world design,” he says. To underscore these enriched interiors, Baker composed a collection of diverse cultural references as modeled by the El Fenn hotel. These global- inflected accents emphasize pattern and texture, from Persian rugs to ikat-printed fabrics to wallpaper inspired by Japanese kintsugi pottery. Moroccan motifs are a major throughline, with vintage furnishings featuring traditional lattice woodwork and a custom Beni Ourain area rug made for the family room. Shades of Morocco’s iconic blue city, Chefchaouen, are found in upholstery, tilework and rugs throughout the abode. The couple’s love of vibrant, abstract painting added more pulses of color. “The idea was to keep everything neutral, then have pops from the art, the rugs or a piece of furniture,” the designer explains.
Alongside these details, Baker tapped into the couple’s fascination with midcentury modern design, procuring many vintage pieces, like an original 1960s Pierre Paulin F444 lounge chair and a Space-Age Stilnovo-inspired chandelier. Midcentury modern’s minimalist, geometric silhouettes may at first seem at odds with the hacienda’s soft architectural lines, but the designer married both sensibilities by using materials “with warm tones that tie into what was already there,” she says. Furniture features walnut and “a mix of brass, copper and black steel for an eclectic feel,” Baker notes.
Beyond the pure aesthetics, these varied elements create a vibrant, inviting atmosphere, which carries through to Baker’s approach to the home’s overall flow. The couple frequently hosts their extended family and friends, so shared areas needed to foster lively gatherings. The living room’s array of sofas, lounges and armchairs, for example, “create different zones, so there are a lot of places to sit and have conversations,” the designer explains. Set for 12, a large table corrals celebrations into the dining room, where Baker also placed a dedicated lounge area for “the owners’ parents, so they can sit comfortably while the couple cooks,” she says. In the adjacent kitchen, they lowered the bar-height island’s profile for more fluid circulation between both spaces.
Now, as visitors explore this reimagined hacienda, they’ll see not only its historical bones, but also the dynamic life layered with memories and traditions the family has built here. “This is a well lived-in home,” the designer says. “When you walk in, it welcomes you.”