The first step in most interior design projects is to get to know the person or people who live in the home, but for Kara Smith of SFA Design, the brief was somewhat ambiguous. Tasked with designing two model residences at The Harrison, a luxury development in SoMa, San Francisco, her first challenge was to envisage who might move into the apartments—then create their dream space. The result? A sleek, gender-neutral home that's the epitome of cool.
"Our goal was to create an urban cool, contemporary vibe, but still be a comfortable home that appealed to a millennial customer and also a local who wanted a pied-à-terre in the city," Smith tells MyDomaine. Floor-to-ceiling windows, cerused wood-grain floorboards, and brass detailing provided the perfect canvas for the project. From there, Smith's imagination was able to run wild.
Take a peek inside the contemporary-cool SF apartments for a lesson in gender-neutral design.
"[We] approached the initial design by first getting into the mind-set of the homeowner, then tailoring a bespoke concept around a particular lifestyle," explains Smith. Given the client's ambiguity, her team naturally gravitated toward a gender-neutral color palette of cool gray, charcoal, and cream.
She mentions that the dining room chairs and sculptural lighting are among her favorite pieces in the project. "We love the sculptural lighting fixture in the living room that doubles as art from The Future Perfect and the Gubi dining chairs. They're simple, modern, and very fresh!"
Smith designed two model residences at The Harrison, each with its own unique aesthetic. The largest of the two spans 1500 square feet and includes two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a light-drenched dining room.
Texture was key in this space. "The layering of diverse materials creates dramatic contrast," she explains. A fringed mirror, marble console, and calfskin-and-brass light from Apparatus Studio offer unique textures in the all-neutral room.
It's clear that art plays an important role in the design of both apartments. Smith teamed up with online boutique gallery Uprise Art to handpick artworks for each room that add a jolt of personality (and in some cases color). A digital print by Millee Tibbs adds warm sunset hues to the wood-and-brass console.
"Our favorite thing is that the homes effortlessly complement their surroundings, both literally and figuratively," says Smith. "The unit's panoramic views of the Bay are truly unparalleled, so we had to create a design that was harmonious with its stunning backdrop."
Shape and silhouette define each room. In one bedroom, the shape of orb-like table lamps is mirrored throughout the space, including in the artwork by Katrine Hildebrandt-Hussey, featuring smoke and burned points on paper.
Katrine Hildebrandt-Hussey Four Points Artwork (price upon request)
Interiors that adhere to a monochromatic color palette often fall into the same trap: They can easily look two-dimensional, and, well, boring. When choosing the items for each apartment, Smith says she was sure to include playful pieces that imbued each room with personality, like this fringed half-moon mirror from The Future Perfect. "We love that we were able to transform the spaces to have a modern, fun vibe but still be luxurious," she says.
Both apartments might seem spacious at a glance, but Smith admits that scale was one of the biggest challenges of the project. Typically, SFA designs top-tier luxury residences, such as penthouses and homes well beyond 5000 square feet, so her team had to adjust their approach to achieve the same high-end look on a smaller scale.
Large single artworks, mirrors, and sculptural lighting all draw the eye upward and make each room feel luxe, regardless of size—just one of the styling tricks we'll be stealing from this gorgeous San Francisco abode.
Want to know where one of the products is from in this home tour? Let us know in the comments below, and we'll ID it for you.