A Storied San Francisco Home Gets a Fresh Renovation

Paris-born design and branding expert Guillaume Coutheillas—who helms the agency frenchCALIFORNIA—and his husband, Michael, have been able to live their dream since moving to the Parnassus Heights neighborhood of San Francisco.

Guillaume Coutheillas in his San Francisco home.
Guillaume Coutheillas in his San Francisco home.

“We love this area, as it is one of the last remaining parts of the city that still feels like a callback to the days of Tales of the City—in fact, author Armistead Maupin famously lived just a few doors down,” Guillaume says. “A regular pastime for my husband and I over the years has been to hike up to Tank Hill, through the Sutro Forest reserve, and then back down the Farnsworth Steps—located just 50 feet from our front door. We would always stop and daydream about the beautiful homes on Farnsworth and Edgewood and imagine what it would be like to live here.”

When the couple saw that a home was coming up for sale, they immediately called their real estate agent friend to seal the deal.

BEFORE: Prior to the renovations, the home had a bold Spanish Revival interior.
BEFORE: Prior to the renovations, the home had a bold Spanish Revival interior.
AFTER: The living room features an XYZ Chandelier from Adir Yakobi, a Pottery Barn sofa, a yellow stool from Oskar Zieta, a Yayoi Kusama print from a collaboration Guillaume worked on, and a Ben Eine artwork (leaning against the wall to the bottom right).

Spread over 1,700 square feet, the property, which has an additional converted carriage house that now serves as a home office and gym, was originally built in 1924 by Robert Haight. Contractor to famed architects Bernard Maybeck and Julia Morgan, Robert lived here until he died in 1994. “It is believed that Robert built the home as his builder’s cottage while working on the stately mansions that neighbor the home on Edgewood Ave.,” Guillaume says. “As a result, the home boasts unusually large windows and doors, which we assume he salvaged from the surplus of the neighboring projects.”

Although the second owner had converted the interiors to Spanish Revival, Guillaume instead wanted to honor the English cottage heritage of the home, taking on the renovation project under frenchCALIFORNIA to work with his favorite design partners, while adding a contemporary and personal touch. The original doors, windows, and moldings were preserved; the brick flooring was painted white, and wide plank oak flooring was laid throughout the rest of the home; and the plaster walls were smoothed.

BEFORE: Guillaume and his husband sought a lighter, clean look for their home.
BEFORE: Guillaume and his husband sought a lighter, clean look for their home.
AFTER: The dining room features an RH Surfboard Table, Eames fiberglass chairs, and a vintage mirror from a hotel project Guillaume worked on.

“Where we incorporated new materials, we tried to keep everything sustainable, durable, and with the ability to blend naturally with the old,” says Guillaume. “We chose quartz countertops and tile in our kitchen and bathrooms that have the look of concrete while being much better for the environment than marble or other materials.”

Offering stunning views of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge from both levels, the two-bedroom house epitomizes Guillaume and Michael’s origins and lifestyle. “Our home feels like a European-style rural cottage with a barefoot California attitude perched above the big city,” Guillaume says. “It uniquely blends my husband’s North Coast roots with my city-born Parisian sensibilities.”

AFTER: The kitchen is adorned with a contemporary artwork from Craig Damrauer that rests above the stove. It reads “Modern Art = I Could Do That + Yeah, But You Didn’t.”

The interior spaces feature a high-low mix, which creates the perfect balance, with accessible pieces by Anthropologie and IKEA combined with vintage finds and collectible design including objects from Apparatus and The Future Perfect, a stool by Oskar Zieta, and Eames dining chairs, among other elements. The contemporary art collection with works by Yayoi Kusama, Ben Eine, Oskar Zieta, Craig Damrauer, and Sebastien Coutheillas (Guillaume’s brother) bring pops of color to the peaceful atmosphere.

“I was inspired by beachside cottages I grew up visiting on vacations with my family in France,” confesses Guillaume. “I’ve always loved how these generations-old homes had a sense of history and place. Their interiors would be filled with design juxtapositions, like well-worn surfboards paired side-by-side with fine art and collectibles. I like to think of my home as an ever-evolving reflection of how I feel in that moment. Where we are in our lives today: We like a crowded table, a barefoot dance in the kitchen, and beautiful artworks and objects collected from a well-lived life surrounding us in the space.”

AFTER: The entryway is furnished with a Pottery Barn sofa gifted to Guillaume after he was featured in its catalog.

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest