Our designer Annouchka Engel helps a couple completely outfit a Pacific Heights condo on the West Coast that’s just as chic as their NYC abode.
Photos by Lauren Andersen
Designers are often called in to help clients start from scratch. Blanks slates and furniture no one is particularly attached to can be the norm. So when our designerwas tasked with helping a couple set up a bi-coastal abode in Pacific Heights, San Fransico, she wasn’t daunted.
“They moved with nothing but a cardboard box,” she says. “They only brought clothes with them and purchased a mattress.”
With their options wide open, Annouchka and her client made a plan.
“Sarah mentioned her husband had decorated their NYC apartment (more masculine with wood tones) and she wanted this apartment to reflect her aesthetics: clean with bold accents, modern-yet-comfort driven,” Annouchka explains.
That means taking the classic SF 1920s space—high ceilings, bay windows, plenty of light and architectural accents—to the next level.
“My client does not shy away from color or exciting patterns so long as everything blends together and is inviting to the eye,” Annouchka says. “When we first discussed this project she wanted lots of jewel tones. As we refined the direction we settled on blues like navy and cobalt with a more neutral backdrop. In the bedroom, I steered her towards soothing colors that would be dreamy and not too feminine.”
The 1,200-square foot, 1-bedroom apartment is a lesson in waiting for the right pieces. The couple survived with blow-up furniture and little else as they waited for custom pieces and accents that made the space feel just like home.
“Even though this is a rental unit, we agreed to have it painted (as it was this dreary pale yellow that all SF rentals tend to be) and the client even agreed to some fun wallpapered accent walls,” Annouchka explains. “We started with the living room, purchasing a custom sofa and vintage armchairs to be reupholstered. We searched high and low for a comfortable yet stylish and slim sofa bed but pivoted and decided on a custom piece: a corner chair and ottoman.”
Annouchka made sure to opt for pieces that could travel with the couple wherever came next.
“We were not going to do custom furniture that couldn’t be moved and kept to purchasing pieces that would be flexible in another space,” Annouchka says. “That said there were a few strategic splurges: custom window treatments in the master whereas in the living room they are Restoration Hardware. We did paint, and, yes we did a few accent wallpaper walls—but they were installed with an easily removable paste.”
Perhaps most likely to move to the couple’s next abode is the amazing collection of artwork.
Large-scale pieces from Natural Curiosities intermingle with custom pieces from friends and Instagram favorites. The artist Clare Wilkinson is the client’s close friend, so Annouchka gave her the bedroom color scheme and told her to go wild—resulting in beautiful abstract landscapes that perfectly complement the soothing palette.
Annouchka found inspiration all over, even while exercising.
“I found local artist Farell Beam while going to a Pilates class,” she shares. “We thought her bold yet approachable canvases would fit beautifully in the dining room and not overpower the incredible wallpaper. It’s always so great to follow these artists on Instagram. They are much more affordable than one would think.”
In the end, the apartment is a perfect reflection of her client.
“She was so open to trying new things and loved color, which is so enjoyable for a designer,” Annouchka says. “This apartment is fun, colorful and always a breath of fresh air when I walk into it!”
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