Historical Homestead

Amy Weaver wasn’t expecting to buy the gracious, shingled two-story home that stood before her on a lovely half-acre in San Rafael’s Dominican neighborhood. In fact, she and her husband, Rick, the owner of a San Francisco printing company, were happily living in a century-old Ross home with their three young children.

Weaver had gone to see the house with a friend, who had lived in it once and wanted to visit it now that it was on the market. The home’s magnetism proved too strong, though, and before long the Weavers were moving in.

“I fell in love with it right away. It was exactly what I wanted,” Weaver says, recalling that moment 14 years ago. “It’s a very emotional home on a great piece of property. I loved the area and I knew I could bring the house back to life.”

Weaver, an interior designer who maintains an ultramodern apartment in Chicago and a busy design business office in San Anselmo and will soon open an office in New York, wasn’t intimidated by the work involved in updating an older home. Neither was her husband. “We both love old houses,” she says. “They have charm, history and architectural integrity, and the traditional floor plans just make sense.”
Fortunately, this 4,500-square-foot home was solidly built and its plumbing and electrical systems were in great shape. All it really needed was a long-overdue face-lift. “It’s really the perfect family home and a great house for entertaining,” Weaver says.

Weaver kept the exterior true to its heritage, preserving its original windows, painting the shingles a classic shade of smoky gray and the trim in a smart black, and playing up the painted veranda in front. A garage converted into a pool house/media room was also carefully remodeled to honor the residence’s architecture. Brick-and-bluestone patios wend their way around the house and across the pool terrace and are softened by plantings of Japanese maples, abutilon, camellias and rhododendrons.

Inside, Weaver painted the woodwork white for a fresh, light look and laid light-stained, quarter-sawn oak flooring in the formal front rooms and aged pine in the casual family room and kitchen. A thick cream-colored abaca carpet covers the floor upstairs.

Details define the interior, reflecting Weaver’s affection for sophisticated playfulness and passion for eclecticism. “I like bringing contemporary pieces into traditional settings and old pieces into contemporary ones,” she says. By also mixing textures, patterns and colors, she creates a design that’s both provocative and complex.

In the foyer, for example, a red Fortuny chandelier glitters over an unexpected leopard-print rug splayed. It’s glamorous, it’s fun and it works well. In the adjoining living room, a sleek black slate fireplace pairs with a set of black cashmere and horsehair wingback chairs to provide a subtle foil for the gilded English chest, a modern white cashmere-cloaked sofa and a pair of Louis XVI fauteuil chairs in a striking black-and-white graphic print. Simple silk draperies dress the windows and cream-colored sconces by Fortuny add drama to the walls. “I love the way Fortuny fixtures throw light,” she says.

Weaver commissioned C. Mariani Antiques in San Francisco to replicate a dining table she coveted and designed the chairs herself, fashioning them in an 18th-century style and decorating them with patinaed leather and aged-looking nailheads. She placed the grouping under another favorite Fortuny chandelier, centered it on a celadon-colored carpet and painted the walls a warm khaki.

When she turned her attention to the family room, she ramped up the color, washing the space — walls, sofas, chairs and fireplace tiles — in shades of cheerful yellow. She punctuated it with accents of sassy pink Manuel Canovas fabrics and a bright apple green ottoman. “I’m not afraid of color,” she says. “People look so much better in it.”

Separating the family room from the sunny, citrus-green breakfast nook is an L-shaped kitchen done in a subdued tone with high-end stainless steel appliances, creamy white cabinetry and Carrara marble countertops and backsplash. This lighter palette is repeated upstairs on the bedroom floor, where Weaver says she “wanted something soothing.” Richly textured silk grass cloth covers the upstairs walls. “I’m crazy about grass cloth,” she says. “It changes the feel of a space and enhances the art. It’s really in vogue.”

Like the kitchen, the three upstairs bathrooms have a clean all-white look carried through in the marble, tiles, sinks and tubs. “I just think white bathrooms are classic,” she says. “They never go out of style.”
She chose a scheme of pale yellow and blue-green for the master suite, and the children specified their favorite colors for their bedrooms: pale blue and natural canvas hues for Morgan, soft pink and gray for Samantha, and red and charcoal gray for Cameron. Even here, Weaver played with an easy mix of pieces, mingling custom and designer-inspired furniture with more accessible choices from West Elm and Williams-Sonoma Home.

It’s a chic look that wears especially well on a grande dame that just turned 100 years old. Who says old ladies can’t have fun?

Images: Top Left:  Amy Weaver
Top Right:  Dining room houses replication of antique round table commissioned by C. Mariani Antiques
Bottom Left:  Pool house contains an informal area for teenagers to gather.
Bottom right:  Fortuny chandelier in the dining room.