CALM BEFORE THE FORM
A RUSSIAN HILL HOME SETS THE STAGE FOR SERENE BAY VIEWS AND HIGH-ENERGY ART
By Alexandria Abramian, Interior Photography by John Merkl, Portrait by Craig Lee | Summer 2017 Issue
When interior design duo Eva Muller Bradley and Alicia Cheung Lichtenstein of sfHEIMAT (sfheimat.com) first walked into their client’s Russian Hill home, they immediately knew the views would determine the decor. Dramatic, floor-to-ceiling vistas sweeping from Sausalito to Alcatraz cast a peaceful vibe over much of the 1,600-square-feet condominium located in one of the area’s few modern buildings. More than anything, Bradley and Lichtenstein said the combination of the views and the open-plan condominium made for an instantly soothing space, the perfect complement to their client. “She is a very energetic person,” admits Lichtenstein, who says the duo was finishing another design project for her at the time—a “very beautiful, 50th-floor home with amazing views of the Bay Bridge”—when she called them. “Change of plan,” says Lichtenstein, who notes that the client had just purchased another home. “That’s very indicative of her,” says Lichtenstein. “When she makes a change or decision, it has an infectious energy. Both of us thought, ‘Let’s jump on this next project.’”
We went very textural and luscious in the materials we picked. The sofa is mohair and the chairs are a boucle fabric. You can see and feel the difference up close.”
–EVA MULLER BRADLEY
Taking a cue from the stunning views, the designers opted for pared down, minimalist furnishings. The key, however, was to make sure that nothing felt too sterile, cold or monotone. When it came to the client’s existing all-white leather furniture, the designers decided it was a no-go. “We went very textural and luscious in the materials that we picked,” says Bradley. “The sofa is mohair and the chairs are a boucle fabric. You can see and feel the difference up close.”
The two extended that textural mandate down to the smallest of details. Even the bar stools are upholstered in a shagreen-imprinted leather, to give a quiet sense of tactile appeal while remaining ultimately soothing to the eye.
Keeping things serene, however, went beyond selecting fabrics and finishes. The designers also worked to create spaces that cleverly concealed any form of visual clutter: Computers, cables and even security cameras are hidden from view behind handcrafted wood panels, while the kitchen is a minimalist’s dream space. Originally designed by the previous owner’s architect, Michael Hennessey, Bradley and Lichtenstein opted to leave the hypersleek, all-white room as it was. “She does not cook so it works out great,” says Bradley.
One of the project ’s most important elements was incorporating the client’s considerable art collection. “She pointed out pieces she definitely wanted [to keep],” says Bradley. “Then [for] everything else she told us the backstory and gave us artistic freedom to decide what would best fit in this home.”
With all of the main components in place, the designers were able to laser focus in on the tiniest details before the client saw the big reveal. “We come from the Ken Fulk school of thought, which is full service down to organizing your lipsticks [and] having a driver ready to whisk you away to the reservation we made at the hot new spot in town!” says Lichtenstein. “By the end we were able to get her whole place unpacked and organized, fridge stocked, and ready [to reveal]. Watching and witnessing the sheer delight and discovery with the client is the best. We live for that feeling.”