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Spring Home Design Bay Area experts show how to get the look of big-budget decor — at reasonable prices

Luxury style at low-end cost By Leilani Marie Labong


all it design for the 1 percenters. Reality shows like Bravo’s “Million Dollar Decorators” and HGTV’s “Selling New York” brave the nation’s testy economic climate by glorifying the lifestyles of the rich and famous. We’re prescribing a refreshing antidote to all the blue-chip hoopla: We asked local interior designers and veterans of big-budget decor, Suzanne Tucker, Martha Angus and Antonio Martins, to put a down-toearth spin on their most well-to-do projects. As shrewd bargain hunters with a keen curatorial expertise, they scoured local boutiques and national furniture e-tailers in the name of high style at reasonable prices — 99 percent satisfaction guaranteed.

GET THE LOOK The generous scale and “va-va-voom” (Tucker’s words) faux-zebra upholstery of Oly Studio’s Sophie Lounge Chairs make them chic substitutes for their priceless Georgian counterparts, loaned to the designer by the late San Francisco socialite Dodie Rosecrans for exclusive use in the showcase-house tableau. $3,200;

Though Tucker loves the visual strength — “the grounding,” as she calls it — of the legs on the original coffee table, a transformed antique opium bed, the stocky profile of the Elmwood Ming Chow-leg table from China Furniture stands and delivers. $789;

“The tribal graphics of Moroccan rugs pair well with contemporary or traditional designs,” says Tucker. This Beni Ourain shag has a simple harlequin pattern, a 1960s vibe and a sticker price that’s onetenth the cost of the rug in the showcase room. $3,500;

While Tucker used pricey horn sconces in the original room as adventurous counterpoints to the traditional architectural moldings, she loves this sleek (and PETA friendly) take on the look: a whiteresin fixture from Mecox Gardens. $495; mecoxgar Compared with the showcase room’s $780,000 Italian Rococo secretaire, delicately limned with exotic chinoiserie scenes, this worthy substitute, an ornate black-and gold secretary from Decorative Crafts, is practically highway robbery. $7,000;

Pacific Heights living room by Suzanne Tucker Tucker and Marks Design, Suzanne Tucker designed the capacious living room of the 2007 Decorator Showcase House — an Italian Renaissance-style manse in Pacific Heights — with fictitious clients in mind: a successful couple with a stockpile of furnishings both inherited (see the 1730s lacquered secretaire) and collected (an eccentric opium bed-turned coffee table). Despite their traditional bent, the couple are hardly conventional. “She listens to Cole Porter, and he’s a closet rock star,” says Tucker. “And after a party, when the fire is low and the music is right, they like to dance in the dark.” 4

San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, February 5, 2012

C LO C K W I S E F R O M TO P : O LY; C H I N A F U R N I T U R E ; M O R O C C A N R O O M ; M E C OX G A R D E N S ; M I C H A E L TAY LO R D E S I G N S ; M AT T H E W M I L L M A N ; I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y VA L B . M I N A / T H E C H R O N I C L E

February 5, 2012, San Francisco Chronicle Magazine


Martha Angus’ Nob Hill living room Martha Angus Inc., Originally hung in her son’s nursery, a valuable Roy Lichtenstein lithograph “Bedroom” (1991) was the motivation behind the witty living room design in Martha Angus’ former Nob Hill condo. “The room wasn’t large, so I wanted it to be light and airy and lots of fun,” says Angus. Playing off the bold canvas, she commissioned a spunky striped-and-dotted rug from Vorwerk in Germany. Mirrored walls expand the space, catching views of the Golden Gate Bridge, and reflective coffee tables cast the room’s trademark graphics onto other dimensions. Despite its pop-art flair, the decor is steeped in antiquity: a Gustavian clock and settee have roots in early 19th century Sweden.



“The Stripes” painting by Eche Martinez ($2,500; was inspired by the work of late American Abstract artist Agnes Martin. While its colors are echoed in Jonathan Adler’s Lollipop rug ($695; jonathanad, its straight edges offset the daring globules adorning the hand-loomed floor covering. A kind of happy tension ensues. “I don’t like weak spaces,” says Angus. “I like to decorate with pieces that have spirit and strength.”

The designer unearthed the 1970s mirrored coffee tables in her old living room at a Paris flea market. For the updated look, she took a shine to these stainless-steel Hex Tables by New York-based Incorporated both for their David Hicks-inspired geometry and their modular potential. “Ganged together, they make a bold statement; individually, they make chic side tables or TV-dinner trays,” says Angus. $1,090-$1,240; propellermo

Angus willingly admits that the down-filled Templeton Apartment sofa by Jonathan Adler is more comfortable than her prim Swedish settee, which is valued at more than $25,000. The Templeton’s Louis XVI-inspired base embodies the original’s antique cachet. $3,395; O P P O S I T E PA G E : P H OTO B Y P E T E R M E D I L E K I N C . ; I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y VA L B . M I N A / T H E C H R O N I C L E . T H I S PA G E , C LO C K W I S E F R O M TO P : E C H E M A R T I N E Z ; I N C O R P O R AT E D ; J O N AT H A N A D L E R ; J O N AT H A N A D L E R .

February 5, 2012, San Francisco Chronicle Magazine


Nob Hill family room by Antonio Martins


In the original room, the wall-mounted reading lamps by Phoenix Day aren’t space invaders, they’re space savers. This white swing-arm lamp by Lamps Plus is equally lovely, at a fraction of the cost. “Try capping it with a red shade,” says Martins. “It will bring warmth and color to the room.” $90;


San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, February 5, 2012

To enliven this classic vintage-velvet English Roll-Arm sofa, also by Restoration Hardware, Martins suggests a little pillow talk. “Toss on a few colorful cushions or a beautiful ethnic throw to dress it up,” says the designer. $2,655,

“The arm chair is the most important piece of this puzzle,” says Martins. “It unites the space.” The original, a French antique covered in a courageous suzani print (if you’re game, the designer reveals that remnants can be found on eBay for a steal), is affordably reimagined here with the Chantel chair from Ethan Allen, embellished with a striking motif. $799;

C LO C K W I S E F R O M TO P : I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y VA L B . M I N A / T H E C H R O N I C L E ; R E S TO R AT I O N H A R D WA R E ; D AV I D D U N C A N L I V I N G S TO N ; E T H A N A L L E N ; R E S TO R AT I O N H A R D W A R E

Antonio Martins Interior Design, Crowning a historic four-story 1913 Beaux Arts-style residence in Nob Hill, this family room — a 1960s addition originally outfitted with rustic trappings normally associated with log cabins — was recently renovated by Antonio Martins to reflect the neoclassical design of the original architecture. “We wanted to make this floor feel as elegant as the rest of the house,” says Martins. From handsome handcarved moldings (faithfully reproduced, inch by inch, from the grand rooms on the lower floors) to opulent upholstery work (“Like an haute couture dress, furniture also requires multiple fittings,” explains Martin), the revamped space is now a cozy retreat of aristocratic proportions.

While leather is certainly handsome and durable, for the money, tightly woven army-duck fabric is a handsome alternative. This Restoration Hardware tufted bench, seen here in cafe-colored canvas, should do the trick. $640;

San Francisco Chronicle  

San Francisco interior designers Suzanne Tucker, Martha Angus, and Antonio Martins put a down-to-earth spin on their most well-to-do project...