A One-of-A-Kind Condo in San Francisco

A One-of-A-Kind Condo in San Francisco

A One-of-A-Kind Condo in San Francisco


Designer Michael Hilal masterfully blends elements from Brutalist, Mid-Century, and minimalist design to create an original home for a Dogpatch-based couple.

Photos by HelynnOspina.

A home redesign can trigger a serious case of déjà vu. Pinterest boards and magazine spreads make it easier than ever to transform spaces into eerily familiar recreations of another. But for those seeking a space that strays from convention, designer Michael Hilal goes the extra mile. His strategy? Drawing inspiration from a variety of styles—and incorporating his own hand-crafted pieces—to bring spaces to life that are invariably one of a kind.

Luckily for two of his San Francisco-based clients, a distinctive design is exactly what they were pining for.

“Oftentimes, people making their first investment in a home and what goes into it tend to be very safe and follow a specific theme or trend,” Michael explains. “My clients were open to playing it a bit riskier.”

For the couple’s Dogpatch condo, Michael approached the redesign with his signature fervor for individuality, avoiding clichés currently trending in the area.

“In San Francisco, a lot of clients are gravitating towards modern, contemporary interiors,” Michael says. “It’s become about how you make it unique and not just a replication of someone else’s space.”

To avoid a carbon copy feel, Michael combined elements from several design styles—from Brutalist and Mid-Century to minimalist and bohemian.

“It’s important to mix pieces—that’s really how people live,” Michael advises. “It’s all about how you bring them together. Overall we wanted the space to feel modern, but done in a way that’s different than what you’ve come to expect.”

To start, he established a more neutral backdrop, focusing largely on muted tones and peppering in traces of electric color, inspired by the Brian Eno lenticular prints in the bedroom. Throughout the remaining condo, Michael continued to use art to make a similar impact.

In the main entryway, for instance, a multi-colored gallery wall greets you at the door, consisting of pieces collected by Michael’s clients over the years, as well as photographs taken during their travels. And in the pared-down dining room, the Yves Klein peg piece introduces a welcome flash of color.

He also encouraged the couple to thread in color in unexpected ways. In the bedroom, the couple inherited bold red carpet from the condo’s previous owners. Instead of tearing it out, Michael suggested his clients anchor it with more neutral furniture. He then rounded out the room with visual texture by introducing a faux-fur chair and acrylic vanity table.

Beyond the bedroom, Michael layered in decorative objects, lighting, and furniture that double as art without cluttering the walls, including the monolithic marble coffee table in the living room and the sconces above the kitchen island.

To achieve a truly bespoke feel that enabled him to stay within his clients’ budget, Michael custom designed an assortment of furniture, including the Mid-Century-inspired tables in the living room, the Brutalist-inspired table in the dining room, and the Art Deco-inspired nightstands and dressers in the bedroom. But he didn’t stop there: the two graphic pieces above the sofa were also painted and framed by the designer himself.

“One of the best aspects of this space is my clients aren’t going to be at a friend’s place and see the same pieces,” Michael says.

Although we have to admit, we wouldn’t mind if we did.

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