Global Appeal: Saffron + Poe Designs a Home for an International Couple in San Francisco’s Marina District

Liam Lonsdale was in an airport en route to Austria when his partner, Meghan Higney, FaceTimed him to unveil, at least virtually, their newly redesigned second-floor apartment in the Marina District. When he left for the airport earlier that day, the place was upside down, but in the ensuing hours, interior designers and Saffron + Poe co-founders, Johanna Vente Anderson and Fiona Bronte Burr, had expertly staged it. “Wow, what a shift,’” Lonsdale says. “They’re geniuses.”

Lonsdale, a photographer and creative director, resided in northern England’s Lake District when the two met in 2017. After he relocated to San Francisco in 2019, the couple contemplated moving into their own place. Instead, they decided to put their own spin on the two-bedroom apartment where Higney had lived since 2016. “This was our stab at making it a special place,” Lonsdale explains, noting that he often works from home. “It needed to be a nice space to be.”

Designer, Saffron + Poe, established the home’s vibe in the entry hallway, which features a mango wood console table from World Market and a rug from West Elm. Photo by Robert Verte.

Higney knew just where to turn. In her former gig, the executive-at-large worked in an ultra-chic corporate office designed by Saffron + Poe, and she wanted their pad to have the same sort of feel. “They wanted an elevated vibe — modern and contemporary but still timeless,” Anderson says. “Our style is kind of contemporary California — beachy but with a traveled vibe.”

The look is established straightaway in the entry hallway, where a textural rug with rust notes from West Elm adds color and interest to the neutral walls. Centered underneath a brass-framed mirror that reflects the light from the adjacent bedroom, a mango wood console table with a live edge from World Market makes a perfect spot for keys and other odds and ends. 

A black rattan pendant from Serena & Lily illuminates the whitewashed wood dining table and chairs in the newly created dining area. The artwork is from Minted. Photo by Robert Verte.

The hallway leads into the formal living room, which had plenty of room for the designers to create the dedicated dining area that the apartment lacked. A graphic black and white cowhide rug grounds a whitewashed table surrounded by black wooden chairs from Shoppe Amber Interiors underneath a painted rattan pendant from Serena & Lily. 

Adding to the layered, international aesthetic, the nearby wall is decorated with a mixture of artworks from Minted alongside handwoven African baskets that can be purchased on Saffron + Poe’s website or at their Mill Valley brick and mortar boutique and design studio, which opened in July. “There are different focal points for the eye to bounce around,” Anderson says. 

The owner’s traditional sofa pairs perfectly with matching iron chairs with plush cushions from Croft House. The ottoman is from Design Within Reach. Photo by Robert Verte.

The textural woven baskets likewise create a striking focal point above the TV cabinet from Burke Décor in the open living area. Nearby, the designers layered a hand-woven Moroccan rug from their collection over a jute rug and brought in a pair of iron chairs with plush cushions from Croft House, which Anderson compares to clouds. “We found crisp, light and airy pieces that are very comfortable,” she says. “It feels soft and dreamy.”

Underneath a ceramic light fixture from Rejuvenation, a simple pedestal table creates a spot to work or enjoy a cup of coffee in the breakfast area. Photo by Robert Verte.

That sums up the entire apartment, which has light walls and oatmeal-colored linen draperies throughout. To dress up the kitchen, they created a small breakfast area defined by a round jute rug and a stylish ceramic pendant from Rejuvenation. 

Illuminated by a pair of pendants from Cedar & Moss, the leather strap bed is one of Saffron + Poe’s best sellers. The bedding is from The Citizenry. Photo by Robert Verte.

And in the couple’s bedroom, wood-armed sconces with hand-cast opaque stoneware shades from Cedar & Moss flank the leather-strap bed handmade in Bali, which is part of a line of similar furnishings available at Saffron + Poe. “It’s our best-selling collection,” Anderson says. A Moroccan throw and patterned pillows enlivens the neutral luxury bedding from The Citizenry. 

What kid (or adult for that matter) wouldn’t love this cabin-style bed from Etsy in the young son’s room? Photo by Robert Verte.

The designers didn’t overlook their client’s now nearly four-year-old son, Jackson’s room, incorporating a custom cabin-style bed from Etsy atop a graphic patterned rug from West Elm. It’s hard to imagine that he’ll ever want to part with the custom brass mobile from Electric Sun Creatives that hangs from the bedframe. Thanks to a built-in trundle, Jackson has shared the space with many visiting family members, including his three and five-year-old cousins.

Indeed, the young couple love hosting guests, who inevitably ooh and ah about the transformation. Thanks to their new dining table, which has an extension, they were even able to host Thanksgiving dinner, welcoming Lonsdale’s family from England for the first time. “That was our first big group, and it was a hoot,” Lonsdale says. 

The happy couple give all the credit to the designers, who they have referred to several people since the culmination of the project. “They were great fun,” Lonsdale says. “This is such a warm, accommodating space — calming with great energy. We love it here.”

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Tate GunnersonTate Gunnerson is a Chicago-based freelance journalist with an equal appreciation for natural beauty and good design. He is a passionate supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the National Kidney Foundation.