"Aw, Lighten Up . . . "


I quite often read design magazines from back to front. I think I always have. I want to see the features first anyway, so I usually just start leafing through starting from the back page. That's not really the point if this post (an exploration of my idiosyncratic behaviour could fill numerous entries!) - but, it does mean that I often see an article before I see the title page - so a few weeks ago when I was leafing through the San Francisco Chronicle home section (from back to front) my thought was - "wait. I think I know that house!"

Well, 'know it' I most certainly did. It's the place that belongs to my friends Patrick Wade and Paul DeMattei - a 1905 Edwardian in the Ashbury Heights area of San Francisco.

You might recognize it as well - here it is several years back when it was featured in House Beautiful - all dark and dramatic and delicious. Sparkling crystals and polished silver shining against dark chocolate walls. A gleaming lacquered coffee table balanced by soft wool carpets.

But, good grief! Look at it now. Bright. Cheery. So often, in the design business, we preach about the power of a fresh coat of paint and some new decorative pillows - well, here's the proof. Clearly Patrick and Dave did more to their gracious home than just a few cans of paint and some textiles - but, it truly shows what you can accomplish once you embrace the idea of 'change.'


and after.
Even simple changes can help keep the space fresh and exciting.


and after.
No big changes in the dining room. But even simply re-hanging your
artwork can help the house feel new.

And I LOVE this bright, gleaming kitchen. What a perfect place to start the day.


the beautiful library table in the entry. Classic raffia wallpaper and
beautiful period woodwork in glossy white.


In the master bedroom, again not any dramatic changes. But many times, no big changes are really needed. Fresh, new bed linens can make all the difference.

So take a look around you house - maybe this weekend is the perfect time to add a little something new . . .


Photography for SF Chronicle - Peter DaSilva
Photography for House Beautiful - José Picayo


Beth said…
Can't believe that's the same living room. I like the old room better, but that's just me. I'm not a fan of blue.
Beth said…
wowzer! I love that blue...gorgeous and the mantel deco is fabulous! thanks for sharing! by the way, i read mags back to front too! :) Beth
D.B. said…
Gorgeous before AND after! I peruse back to front as well. Must be a tendency of creative geniuses.
Scott Fazzini said…
I can't tell you how enthusiastically in love I am with this home. Truly, every inch of every room is perfect; the furniture, textiles, lighting, accessories, wall covers, the grand beefy mouldings and architectural details -the fireplace surround in the living room left me jaw gaping. Oh, I think I'd be content to live in just one of their rooms for the rest of my life! Oh, and that kitchen -THAT KITCHEN!! Well, it's absolutely my idea of the perfect kitchen. Wow... I need to rest now.
Karena said…
Scot, an astounding transformation and thank you for sharing the before images, that makes it all the more superb. I am seeing many of us read from back to front!!

Art by Karena
sue Murphy said…
What a great post! The before and after photos really are a wonderful study on how color and accessories can change a room. LUUUVVVV........ the kitchen.
24 Corners said…
I know this house because I know this kitchen!!! It was a tremendous inspiration to us in the creating of our own kitchen, which is almost complete now. The paint colors and that amazing marble helped to solidify our choices (Katiedids kitchen was a big player here also).

Fun to see it here again...
margot said…
I'll second what mr. Fazzini said. Also, this is why I love blogland. Without this post I would never know what was in the sf chronicle home section today. Great place and great post. I'm quite loving blue and white ceramics now. A house with room for a round entrance hall table is one of my design dreams!
This was a fun tour and another good lesson in what a few updates can do. But, I must confess, as wonderful as all the changes are, I still love the brown version!

Ok, now on to the magazine reading format! Every magazine or catalogue I pick up, I read this way. But, only after I first go through and pull out all the annoying perforated subscription cards...do you do this as well?

I read the above comments and it seems we are not alone...something in a designers DNA I wonder???

Until my sister pointed it out a few years ago, I didn't even realize I was doing it. I've tried not to...you know feeling like a weirdo...but I always go back to...backwards!

Yep, blogworld...it's where your "people" are!!!
Hey everybody!

Glad to see that the reading of shelter mags from back to front may be the industry norm! And, yes, all of the cardboard effluvia has to be removed first . . . lol.

And, yes, that may be one of my favourite kitchens ever, anywhere. amen. bright. functional. stylish. You kinda can't beat it.

LOVE that raffia wallpaper. I think I'll get it for my hallways.
Vickie H. said…
Very inspiring post....maybe we can ALL go freshen up our personal spaces for the spring and coming summer. I, too, adore the new living room, but for that kitchen I go weak in the knees!!! Thank you for sharing! This post will remain among my favorites!
Blog Author(s) said…
I just love your blog. Thank you for your fine post.
Alicia said…
I need to close my mouth..there. Just stunning & so perfectly done it looks effortless... the hallmark of true taste & genius.
I usually flip to the featured homes first then hit the front...but I'm with you. Get rid of the damn subscription cards !!!

This latest transformation is indeed fascinating.

It is, I believe, at least the fifth variation.

I published the second version (designed with the assistance of Stephen Brady) in one of my earlier books, San Francisco Style, I think. Putty colored walls and lots of urns. Master bed at that time was a pencil post four poster. I must look through my files. It was also published in Met Home in the third variation (more Williams Sonoma Home, with chinoiserie chairs)
Dave and Pat now live in LA...and this house is their true home base. Great to see the blue and white.
cheers, DIANE
Mrs. Blandings said…
THAT is amazing. And a good catch on your part.
Pinky said…
O***M****G!!!! I am so in love with this house I can barely stand it! The newel post in the entry is GORGEOUS, and the kitchen is to me, perfect!!! Thanks for sharing this!!! I have been doing exactly this for the past 3 days, just rearranging accessories etc. in various rooms and it is amazing what a difference it makes!!! Pinky
Nadir H. said…
Quite tidy :)
I like it when it's messy
The perfect post to illustrate that a few well chosen changes can change and refresh any space. New to your blog, but will become an ardent follower! Lidy
Debra @ Oreillers said…
Beautiful home and I love their raffia wallpaper! I just put up the same color of grass wallpaper in a room and it’s stunning! That kitchen is to die for but I’m not sure I would want to be the one cleaning all those open items on the shelves. I’ve always read magazines backwards but I always thought it was a habit of a left-handed person since my husband does it as well. Thank you for a wonderful post!
(eddas) said…
its amazing what small changes can do....it was a really beautiful home they have:)
have a nice evening..
eddaHugs to you from Oslo,Norway...
Lila said…
The living room is such a change. Both styles are gorgeous but, wow! I love all of it!
Lila Ferraro
Queen Bedroom Sets
Great post and gorgeous before AND after!
A beautiful transformation of the spaces.

I just wanted to comment that after several ungodly attempts to listen to your interview with the Skirted Roundtable on my iphone... I finally resorted to my computer to listen. I use an air card since I live in the country and anything streaming eats up my allotted usage before going over... it was well worth the effort. I really enjoyed learning more about you and how you operate as a designer. Your "people" style is certainly reflected in your warm and inviting interiors. Terri
hello gorgeous said…
Well, I guess great minds read alike! I, too, read back to front, always have. Glad to know I'm not just a weirdo.

This has long been one of my favorites houses. I always loved the brown (my living room is quite similar by coincidence) but the blue completely changes it and freshens it up. It's got me thinking.

I also love the Phillip Jeffries wallpaper and I will have it one day. The kitchen is perfect. Perfect! And the photo of King E. and Mrs. Simpson is so romantic.

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