San Francisco Decorator Showcase serves up deluxe design

Perched on one of San Francisco’s most beatific hills is an Italian villa-style mansion with classical proportions, terrazzo columns and Roman arches. The traditional exterior belies its transformation into a dizzying display of contemporary design in its current incarnation as the 2011 San Francisco Decorator Showcase.

Sitting pretty with a northern view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Palace of Fine Arts, the four-story, 6,244-square-foot home is a jewel in the crown of the Pacific Heights neighborhood.

It’s also an interesting space for the 30-odd design firms contributing to the annual showcase, which features more than 30 rooms and work by even more designers and gallery artists. Proceeds from house tours benefit the San Francisco University High School’s financial aid program. Last year, the showcase raised nearly $600,000.

The thematic concepts and names for many of the rooms are a treat in themselves.  

Josephine Fisher Interior Design chose a royal wedding theme for the “Going to the Chapel” bedroom. Featuring a sumptuous array of British textiles and a soft color palette, the styling was inspired by a sense of British traditionalism. Although the silk velvet upholstered day bed is French, it echoes the delicacies of the Regency period.

Designer Brian Dittmar transformed an unassuming kitchen antechamber into “The Cookbook Nook,” an inspiring and academic space for the studious cook. Bookcases and vintage and custom furnishings fill the area, which boasts a reading alcove near a bay window.

Another precious space is a closet near the master bedroom, where designer Tinsley Hutson-Wiley embraced the feminine. The previously neglected niche housed only a few pairs of shoes and an old Jacuzzi motor before Hutson-Wiley refurbished it, drawing inspiration from her latest read: a biography of fashion designer Gloria Vanderbilt.  

A sumptuous black-and-white striped, ruffled curtain leads the way into the stiletto-lover’s shrine, with lacquered, Chinoiserie cubbies for Manolos and Louboutins. A pink, white and black rug designed by Madeline Weinrib adds an Art Deco flair and lavish sensuality to the space, which reaches its pinnacle with a crushed velvet Deco chair. “Sex and the City’s” Carrie Bradshaw would approve.

The most whimsical room has the most banal name and placement. Buried in the basement, the “Studio Craft Room” by Hayes Valley design firm Lotus Bleu is geared toward providing a fun and motivating space for arts and crafts. The playful red-and-green color scheme is reminiscent of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s “Amelie.”

“I often start with color and textiles” says Jeannie Fraise, primary designer for Lotus Bleu. “I loved trying to make a nook out of a dungeon and making a cozy banquette, and embracing the low ceilings.  I thought all of the colors would warm it up.”


San Francisco Decorator Showcase

Where: 2950 Vallejo St. (near Lyon Street), San Francisco

When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays and Memorial Day; closes May 30

Tickets: $25 to $30

Contact: (415) 447-5830,

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