Tag Archives: natural materials

Cerused Oak


On my most recent trip to San Francisco, I was able to take some time to walk through the Galleria in search of materials for a returning client. I always make a stop at Wroolie and Company who are known for their high end furniture and lighting which range from custom reproductions, original designs, to contemporary. I was delighted to see several cerused oak side tables near the front window of the showroom. I’ve been fond of this finish for years and am very pleased to see that it is being used in new and interesting ways. These pieces by Mario Grimaldi International were in a variety of rich stains and finished with a high gloss finish.

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With my interest piqued, I did a bit of research on cerused oak and learned a few interesting facts. The technique of cerused oak, known as limed oak in Britain, began back in the 16th century.  Carpenters rubbed a material containing lime into the grain of the wood to fill it, then the wood was stained and finished giving you a two toned effect. Cerused oak became popular again in the age of Art Deco and is having a  comeback in our decade as well.

Mario Grimaldi International London Dining Table

Mario Grimaldi International London Dining Table


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Granite Bay Master Bathroom…The Project that Grew…

BEFORE – Bathing in the 80’s

AFTER – Stunning new free standing tub is a design feature!

        A simple desire to replace an existing bathtub grew into a master bathroom remodel that has delighted one of my clients and given her a whole new room! Although not yet complete, these remodel photos show the dramatic differences already apparent in this work-in-progress.    The beginning…

BEFORE – Old shower is outdated and feels claustrophobic

AFTER – New shower feels spacious and luxurious!

By selecting a freestanding tub and freeing the space originally filled in around a sunken tub, we opened up this corner of the bathroom. Removing the plantation shutters to let the view of the outdoor garden and natural light flood in has also lightened and enlarged the space.  The middle… In the separate shower area, we also opened things up by cutting out a large section of the exterior wall and replacing a small octagonal window with a larger, oval one. Voila!   Stay tuned for upcoming photos of the finished project!

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Windows on the World (and Home)

Recently I enjoyed an unusual, solitary experience on a day in San Francisco when shops were closed because of a holiday.  This allowed me to wander undisturbed down one of my favorite streets in Pacific Heights.  The area is predominantly residential with many beautiful Victorians and some modern lofts perched above the occasional boutique.  A neighborhood most of us can only aspire to, the shops cater to the most sophisticated and high-ticket clients.

An antique tobacco rack makes a wonderful contemporary window dressing

When but on a day like this could I peek and peer to my heart’s content without anyone thinking me strange?  I could easily take photographs as well, which on busy days could rouse a shop owner to become suspicious of my motives!

Repetition of the same type of item – like these wood utensils – makes a bold design statement

I was looking for MARCH, which reopened last year in a new incarnation focusing on kitchen, pantry, table, and open plan living.  The windows display rustic, yet elegant and minimalist pieces.  (My favorite “glimpse” was an oversized, hanging, tobacco drying rack.) It feels very contemporary but with large scale, hand-hewn items like butcher-block tables, and classics like a huge AGA cooker.  The interior space is light and bright, with white subway tile and woodwork creating a clean, minimal canvas to display the fabulous items here – practically like visiting an art gallery!  The furniture and accessories seem to float in space.

The ordinary, everyday kitchen objects are not only functional, but exquisite.  And they seem to resonate with historical significance.  I particularly loved the display of wooden utensils hanging along one wall.  MARCH also boasts a “Pantry” section with a signature line of jams, vinegars, and spices.

Sam Hamilton, the owner of MARCH who once interned at Chez Panisse, wanted to use her shop to highlight San Francisco’s contribution to food culture — slow food, locally sourced – and to draw attention to the independent, stylish shopping of Sacramento Street.  Mission accomplished… this is sophisticated design right in the heart of San Francisco!

At ANTHEM, a family owned shop with a whole team of design professionals, founder Janelle Loevner has created a wonderful gallery of eclectic items gleaned from all over the globe.  There is something here to inspire the designer in everyone!

ANTHEM facade offers its own design inspiration

Based on its façade, ANTHEM feels very neoclassical, but with clever twists on old classics.  It, too, had a bright white interior — a backdrop that allows the impact of the antiques, furniture, and accessories housed within to shine. The emphasis here is on neutrals, natural materials, and layered metallics.  Loevner has added exotic details to contemporary design and displays items ranging from African kudu horns to Spanish hand-woven textiles.

   Next trip I’ll definitely poke around inside these stores to explore more thoroughly, but as I suspected, even window shopping at unique and trend-setting boutiques offers its own design inspiration!



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