At Home: Art deco touches enliven Seacliff flat

Susan Gearey found that you can go home again.

“I was the daughter of an army officer stationed at the Presidio, says Gearey, who lived in San Francisco as a child. “It didn’t take me long to realize it’s a pretty neat place.”

When Gearey, a former regional vice president at Tiffany & Co., was offered a position in The City 17 years ago, she says she jumped at the opportunity to return. She met and married her husband, Dr. Stephen Van Pelt, here 11 years ago and two years later purchased their Seacliff residence.

The home, in a 1920s building, has great features and great bones.

The two-story flat features a circular staircase at the entry. “It’s that way with homes in San Francisco on a hill,” she says.

The foyer is on the entry floor, which also houses the kitchen, dining room, living room and one bedroom the couple made into Van Pelt’s study. The master suite is on the lower level.

Gearey renovated — “I loved redoing the floors and painting in fun colors,” she says — but kept the historical arches and fireplace she loved.  

The arches lend the home grace and style; from the hallway entry to the dining room and living room, they set the tone.

The windows are original 1920s casements. The ceilings are high — about 9 feet — and the floors are hardwood. 

The couple bring back collections of eclectic things from vacations, including a stunning Biedermeier dining room table and two Biedermeier chairs.

They also collect art deco furniture. Two 1920s chairs are reupholstered in black cut-velvet with Deco arms.

“I like mixing in the old with the new,” says Gearey, who recently chaired “Hob Nob on the Hill,” a fundraiser for the Bothin Burn Center at St. Francis Memorial Hospital. “My husband has one of his grandfather’s Morris chairs, which we had redone when we moved.”

The walls are neutral, in caramel, dark beige, toast and warm russet, providing a cozy effect. 

The couple, who have a cottage in St. Helena, love the comfort and convenience of their flat.

“It’s easy and fits us,” Gearey says.

Style keys
Design magazines: House Beautiful, Better Homes & Gardens, newspapers
Design books: Coffee table books on country cottages to apartment life
Aesthetic: Mixing warm tone with collectibles, family photos and memorabilia from travels
Collectibles: China, crystal, silver: “After 21 years working at Tiffany. I love their hand-painted china, Black Shoulder, Le Tallec from the private stock.”

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