Monday, May 21, 2012

Bedroom Bliss: New Design by the Marvelous Matt Murphy

The San Francisco Decorator Showcase (open through May 28 2012) has been a brilliant success this year.

Set in an historic mansion in Pacific Heights, it has had fantastic buzz. Yes, as a longtime member of the Design Advisory Board of Showcase, I am rather partial. But everyone is saying it is one of the best of over three decades of great houses. 
The rooms demonstrate the verve, vibrancy and originality of San Francisco’s design community. New concepts and ideas are presented boldly and with finesse. 

Come with me for a visit to Matt Murphy’s superbly tailored and elegant guest bedroom. It’s full of new design inspiration. And check out my conversation with Matt—he’s articulate about design and this is like a vivid tutorial. 

In Conversation with Designer Matt Murphy:

Pull up a chair and come and hear Matt’s ideas on decorating, color, décor, how to find inspiration, accessories and the importance of editing. It’s long…so make a cup of tea or snap open a chilled Coke and have a wonderful read. 

Designer Matt Murphy

One of my favorite experiences in life is to stay at a beautiful hotel. It's total escapism. My concept for this bedroom was to make it the perfect luxury guest suite—to appoint it with everything one would find in their favorite hotel. With the room's stately fireplace, it reminded me of a hotel I often stayed at in London (one that I was always sad to leave).

I started with a neutral palette to create a dreamy, peaceful backdrop. Walls, carpet, trim and stone finishes are monochromatic tones of warm grey. Furnishings were selected to evoke a French 1940's feeling: ecru lacquer, cerused woods (where white pigment is rubbed into the open grain of the wood), warm brass and a mix of luxurious fabrics including wool, silk, linen and leather.

And to keep the bedroom from getting too sleepy, pops of color, mainly plum, were introduced to dramatic effect.

And of course, all the amenities of a luxury hotel are here, too: a comfy bed dressed with Frette sheets and a cashmere blanket.

A desk for correspondence doubles as a vanity, a pair of fireplace chairs to curl up in while reading a good book (along with plenty of classics in the bookcase). And a daybed for lounging. We've even appointed the room with a bar cart for enjoying a nightcap—think of it as a complimentary luxury mini bar! 

The surfaces of this room are neutral and monochromatic. The Kneedler Fauchere wallcovering, the silk/wool carpet, the paint trim and the fireplace surround and hearth are all a similar warm grey tone.

Woods in this room are light and textured.

Purple, or more accurately, PLUM, is new for me. The plum color has enough red to give energy and freshness against the cooler canvas of the room. It also has enough strength where it's not off-putting to men. It's a good balance of feminine and masculine, which I like to achieve in my interiors.

The large 1960 abstract by Paul Burlin that hangs above the fireplace is a powerful counterpoint to the otherwise calm and quiet space. It's the focal point of the room. And the artist's bold use of color—red, yellow, green, blue (and little to no purple)—adds dramatic tension to the space. Nothing else can compete with its strength—everything else in the room has no choice but to acquiesce. 

I love rooms where the furnishings and art feel collected—pieces with provenance and history. I buy very little furniture and art from contemporary showrooms. It's almost always the historical pieces that people inquire about—and this year's showcase is no exception. For example, the group of prints that hang above the bed is from 1948. They're by early Bay Area abstract expressionists including Richard Diebenkorn and Frank Lobdell. They're from a folio that included 17 prints and the story goes that the artists sold the complete folio for $1 for a little extra whiskey money. Now of course, the folio is quite rare and valuable. But it's the historical significance I also love. 

It’s a cerused fir bookcase designed by Tommi Parzinger c. 1939. It's in its original state—not perfect. People are drawn to it. It's a simple and elegant design. But there's also nothing quite like it currently in the marketplace. It has soul.

I designed many of the furniture pieces, including the bed, desk, mirror, headboard and even the small drum table. I also designed the fire screen. I have a stable of workrooms and craftspeople that bring old-world techniques to custom pieces so they sit harmoniously next to vintage and antique furnishings. The hand of man—the soul—is evident. 

The pair of fireplace chairs is a more traditional counterpoint to many of the more high-style, mid-century furniture pieces. The skirted form offers relief from the leggy late 1930's coffee table by Tommi Parzinger that stands between them. The chairs are also a good scale for reading and relaxing by the fire. And the down and feather-filled seat and back cushions give added comfort. A plum-colored grosgrain ribbon from Samuel & Sons applied to the bottom of the skirt give the chairs a tailored quality. It also provides a contrasting outline between the ecru wool upholstery and similarly-colored carpet. 

A few weeks before showcase opened, I started sketching. The drum is the result. I hand-painted the white design onto the burled veneer and then had my workshop build up of layers of clear lacquer. After many coats, the hand-enameled nail heads were applied and the rope strung. Even though it was a push to get the piece completed for showcase, it was worth it—I love what it does—it's like a piece of jewelry for the room.

I think romance just happens. And I guess everyone's idea of what is romantic varies. To some, perhaps floral prints and feminine colors are romantic. However, for me they're not. I think being comfortable in a space is romantic. I have had many comments that my guest bedroom is very soothing, restful, livable...real. To me, that's romantic—or least it sets the stage for romance. 

What’s on Matt Murphy’s Mind:

I love the way the room came together and how everything fell into place. Of course there are always details to work through, but the finished room is very much what was in my mind's eye. It's uncomplicated, simple, livable...yet elegant at the same time.

I set out to create a guest bedroom that felt like a favorite hotel suite—rich, luxurious, comfortable. And with all the amenities I desire—a dreamy bed, writing table that doubles as a vanity, seating by the fireplace for reading and even a bar for enjoying a nightcap. Several people have said to me, "there's just one problem with your've made it too comfortable--guests will never want to leave." It appears I've achieved my goal.

A showcase visitor said, "your room not only looks good, it feels good." To me, that's the ultimate compliment. Good design should be more than attractive. I guess I do see it as an art form, and if a room can move someone—emotionally—I think it works. 

Design Information and Where to Buy:
Wallpaper: Kneedler Fauchere, content: paper; pattern: VS-4; color: wispy dove
Woodwork paint: Benjamin Moore, Tapestry Beige, OC-32, Satin Impervo
Ceiling: Benjamin Moore, White Chocolate, OC-127
Stone and marble faux finishes (fireplace): Willem Racké Studio

Carpet: Velours Cystalle in Mushroom, source: Aubry Angelo, Minneapolis

Hardware: Roman Shade Company, San Francisco
Sheer fabric: Belgian linen available through Matt Murphy Studio
Embroidered side panels: Osborne & Little

Chandelier: 1940's French from Matt Murphy Studio
Bedside lamps: vintage Tommi Parzinger from Matt Murphy Studio
Picture lamps above artwork: Frame makers picture lamps from Circa Lighting
Floor lamp in corner: Vintage Tommi Parzinger from Matt Murphy Studio
Desk lamp: Antique Italian urn fitted into lamp by Tommi Parzinger
Mantle lamps: Tommi Parzigner, c. 1940

Bed: Custom from Matt Murphy Studio—upholstered in Colefax & Fowler Limoges Check Flax through Cowtan & Tout
Nightstands: custom from Matt Murphy Studio
Desk: custom from Matt Murphy Studio
Desk chair: custom from Matt Murphy Studio (from a Tommi Parzinger prototype)—upholstered in Cortina Athene, color: Erica
Mirror: custom designed by Matt Murphy Studio
Brass window bench: vintage from Matt Murphy Studio—upholstered in Mimi London sheepskin
Pair of fireplace chairs: custom from Matt Murphy Studio—upholstered in Holland and Sherry wool with Samuel & Sons trim
Brass bar cart: vintage from Matt Murphy Studio
Coffee table: vintage Tommi Parzinger from Matt Murphy Studio
Bookcase: vintage Tommi Parzinger from Matt Murphy Studio
Daybed: vintage Tommi Parzinger upholstered in Kravet plum silk
Fireplace screen: custom by Matt Murphy Studio


Painting above mantle: by Paul Burlin from Matt Mruphy Studio
Prints over bed: from a portfolio of prints by including Frank Lobdell and Richard Diebenkorn from Matt Murphy Studio
Etching above chaise: Pablo Picasso c. 1913 from Matt Murphy Studio


Sheets and the blankets at foot of bed: Frette
Linen coverlet: Jane Churchill Darwin Mushroom through Cowtan & Tout
Large sham pillow fabric: Nobilis Fleur de Lin
Bolster fabric: Kravet silk in plum; grosgrain trim: Kravet
Bed skirt fabric: Holland and Sherry

Custom with embroidered silk fabric from Telefina

All vintage accessories from Matt Murphy Studio 


The designer:
Matt Murphy Studio
550 Jackson Street
San Francisco, CA 94133
phone: 415-277-7224

The photographer:
All photos are used here with express permission from the photographer, who holds the copyright.

John Bedell Photography

The San Francisco Decorator Showcase:
This decorator showcase raises funds for financial aid at University High School in San Francisco.


The-Countrypolitan said...

Beautiful details... the painting above the fireplace was the perfect piece for the room.


Greet Lefèvre said...

A heavenly bedroom! As the designer explained, the room seems as a hotelroom! Comfortable and very beautiful!
I just came over from 1stdibs where Matt's inventory is to see.
I do love the table lamp you posted here Diane!
Thank you again for introducing us to a talented designer!

Brillante Interiors said...

Exquisite details in this bedroom and great short questions right to the point, Diane.
(I just wish I did not have to prove I am not a robot...)

Philip Bewley said...

This is a lovely room. it felt great to be in the room when I was there. I have enjoyed your posts on this years showcase very much.

Love Your Homes said...

I sat down in my chair and read this twice.

I so like Matt Murphy's choices for this room
and also his picks of designers, for example the lamps by Parzinger( one of his many talents). He was brilliant at merging designs from the past with the new and I'm certain he would still pull it off, if he was alive today.

I guess I need to visit Murpy Studio and his vintage collection next time I'm in SF.

I hope all is well with you!


Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Dear Friends-

I'm so pleased you enjoyed Matt Murphy's guest bedroom at the new showcase house.
It has been very popular.
The house closes tomorrow, Sunday.
Matt told me that many people have entered, walked around the room, and told him 'I feel so relaxed and calm here' and 'This would be my dream bedroom'.
I think he's succeeded in a room that is original and personal--and with no specific theme.
Matt admires Tommi Parzinger (as you noted, Ingela) and uses his designs in the room, along with pieces inspired by Parzinger.
The painting above the fireplace: yes! The acid colors and bold abstraction are just right. I agree with you. It's the counterpoint, the surprising juxtaposition that ever room needs.
See you next week! very best, DIANE

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