Monday, May 28, 2012

A Point of View: A private visit to meet Restoration Hardware’s brilliant chief, Gary Friedman, at his California homebase

Restoration Hardware chairman and co-CEO Gary Friedman has created an ultra-private haven overlooking San Francisco Bay. Here he refreshes his energy, and dreams big, certainly of the next great Resto catalog and product collection.

You’ll see every swoon-worthy room – full of ideas and inspiration. 

The sunset view of the Golden Gate Bridge, which celebrated its 75th Anniversary yesterday, from Gary Friedman's hillside home. 

On a sun-struck hillside in Belvedere, sheltered by pines and native oaks, Gary Friedman has created his extraordinary domain.

Light-filled and relaxed, the villa-style residence epitomizes Friedman’s ideals of symmetry, harmony, and balance.

It’s a lively interview, and I’ve also listed Gary’s inspirations, and Gary’s Style Signifiers. So, make a cup of tea, pour a glass of chilled Prosecco, or do as Karl does and sip Diet Coke, as you’ll want to read the whole story. 

Morning Mist: On the stone terrace just outside his dining room, Gary Friedman can watch as yachts set out from Sausalito toward the Golden Gate Bridge. Sofas by David Sutherland. 

With its discreet Howard Backen-designed architecture, lush landscaping, and infinity pool, the house offers Friedman, his family, friends, and staff a splash of glamour just half an hour from the city and ten minutes from Restoration Hardware headquarters in Corte Madera.

“I’m an early riser, so my favorite thing is to walk out onto the terrace and watch the sunrise,” said Friedman, relaxed, tanned, and dressed head to toe in Brunello Cucinelli. The golden sun hits the hills above Sausalito, and the magical scene looks like Portofino. It’s very escapist. 

Gary Friedman
Restoration Hardware recently filed to go public and Friedman has revved up his usual fast pace, criss-crossing the country, planning and inspecting potential sites, even a restaurant and wine bar under discussion. He’s also checking in on spectacular new design galleries, in Houston, East Hampton, and Los Angeles, and watching the progress of the handsome new gallery in Boston, opening in the fall.

As always Friedman is seeking out talented craftspeople. His obsession is innovative furniture, lighting and objects to add to his current roster of 24,000 products in the Resto line.

Under Friedman’s direction, Restoration Hardware has grown to eighty-six galleries and stores, including Baby & Child boutiques and outlets.

A pair of sinuous vintage Scandinavian chairs is juxtaposed with newly introduced Deconstructed sofas and intentionally exposed burlap underpinnings and tufted muslin. The antique Belgian glass and rusted iron lamps inspired a Resto lighting collection. 

After the dramatic debut of the first Gallery in a Palladio-inspired villa in San Francisco’s design district, expansion followed. Plans to open galleries in Miami and Manhattan are underway.

Resto recently mailed out its latest Sourcebook and its hefty catalog compendium, fresh and full of new listings of modern furniture, along with the new color, denim blue.

Friedman’s long-term vision for the company includes a Restoration Hardware-style hotel and restaurant (in conjunction with a gallery) and an even broader diversity of products and styles. 

Not surprisingly, Friedman’s house epitomizes the best of Resto, with a pair of the latest Deconstructed collection sofas taking pride of place in the living room, new muslin upholstered Deconstructed wing chairs in the dining room and all beds afloat with the company’s luscious embroidered white Italian linens, fresh and inviting.

Over the intense five years it took to complete the planning, designing, building and interior architecture of the 7,000 square foot house, Friedman, always obsessive about arcane knowledge, learning and insider expertise, received the equivalent of a Doctorate in Architecture from the genial and opinionated Napa Valley-based architect Howard Backen and his longtime partner, architect Jim Gillam and their team.

“The moment I first drove up to the site with Howard, he took one look and sketched out the siting, the entrance, the intricate placement of rooms, the orientation to the views,” said Friedman. “We were looking at a bare slope, not yet excavated, and Howard could see the built house. I was very inspired.”

As refinements were made to the structure and floor plans, hundreds of tons of soil were excavated from the steep hillside.

The house, with its two-foot thick walls, deep window and door reveals, and ochre-colored stucco walls, nestles comfortable into the surroundings. 

“Howard squeezed the maximum views from the house—to the east, the south and the west—and we have all-day sun,” noted Friedman. “Many people would have had picture windows, and decks everywhere. That’s not my thing or Howard’s.”

Instead of vast expanses of glass, Friedman and Backen devised folding doors framed with rich mahogany to give the rooms an intimate, enclosed feeling. When pushed open, the doors disappear and the kitchen, dining room and bedrooms open directly onto sheltered and beautifully framed terraces. 

Doors in the multi-purpose kitchen open to a balcony with views of Mt. Tamalpais. Wing chairs, table by Resto. 

“I did not want to lose any view in the kitchen, so I forbade kitchen cabinets,” noted Friedman. Instead, he and his team made an apothecary of the large and practical kitchen island, hiding utensils and cooking equipment in custom rolling drawers and under-counter cabinets. 

Friedman’s nine-year-old twin daughters, Alexis and Arianna love to hang out in the media room. In the mix: an antique China cabinet, tufted Deconstructed chair, and a side table made from scavenged architectural fragments. 

Most impressive is the complete integration of architecture and interior décor. Backen’s rooms are perfectly proportioned and minimally detailed to create a calm and graceful background for art, antiques, collections and comfortable furnishings. It's welcoming.

“The whole house is lived in,” noted Friedman. The travertine floors throughout and Venetian plaster walls also give the house a tranquil, cohesive feeling. He worked with designer Kendall Agins Friedman on the décor. 

A textural composition of lichen-covered leather pedestal table, graphic art, and lacquer lamp in the entry. 

Gary Friedman, in full expansion mode, travels often and heads to Europe or Asia with his design and research teams to source new products and meet with the designers and artisans and specialist manufacturers who help him reinvent the style and texture and products of Restoration Hardware.

In Los Angeles there’s the charming Ben Soleimani of Mansour, now creating stunning and well-priced collections of floor coverings for Resto.

In Belgium, Friedman has a partnership with Raymond Libeco of Libeco-Lagae, the top linen company for which Resto is a major client. (All of Friedman’s curtains and upholstery is from this centuries-old company.) And there are traditional bed linen companies in Florence, antique dealers in London and Paris.

“When I return from a long trip, it is very escapist and tranquil to be alone in this house,” said Friedman. “It’s a great gathering place for my family, and it’s ideal for business meetings with discussions going on into the night. But when I’m alone there’s a Zen-like calm feeling that I love. 

A Resto four-poster bed is a bold element in the guest suite. 

Gary Friedman likes to think of Restoration Hardware as a renegade company, daring and fearless. For his staff, he offers an inspiring set of Resto Rules. Here are some key points:

Vision is Everything
We believe vision leads the leader. It ignites and fuels the fire within

Those with Vision lead and inspire us to boldly move forward and chart new courses

We believe Vision is everything

No School for Cool

We believe in being cool

We believe you’re either cool or you’re not

To be cool, you have to do cool things

We believe cool has to come from within

There is no School for Cool 


Watch: Panerai Chronograph

Wardrobe: Brunello Cucinelli, and obscure Japanese sportswear designers

Footwear: Heschung

Leather bracelet: Resto Rules, custom made for Resto team members.

Jeans: RRL by Ralph Lauren

Cologne: Bulgari

Gary Friedman in his living room, with the new Resto Deconstructed sofa and Moroccan pillows. In the dining room Friedman’s mix of vivid Thai lacquer bowls, an antique French monastery table, an antique Chinese cabinet, Restoration Hardware side chairs, and the newly introduced muslin-upholstered Deconstructed host chair. 


All photography by Lisa Romerein, used here with express permission.

Meet the Photographer: 

Seattle-born photographer Lisa Romerein lives in Santa Monica, California, where she specializes in food, travel, architecture, interiors, gardens, portraits and lifestyle features for a client list that includes: C magazine, Casa del Mar, Chateau Sureau, Clarkson Potter, House Beautiful, Los Angeles, Kallista/Kohler, Martha Stewart Living, Meadowood and The Napa Valley Reserve, More, Santa Barbara Magazine, Shutters On The Beach, Sunset, Town and Country, Vanity fair, Veranda. Her photographs have appeared in numerous books, among them, Ann Getty: Interior Style, the cookbook Small Bites, Big Nights, a collaboration with chef Govind Armstrong and Santa Barbara Living.

Lisa recently completed a very exciting project, photographing Ann Getty’s interior design projects for my new book, ANN GETTY INTERIOR STYLE, which will be published by Rizzoli in October. (It’s already offered on, click here!)

Lisa and I spent several weeks photographing Getty-designed houses that have never been published, and documenting all of the details of Ann and Gordon Getty’s museum-quality art and antiques collection. The images are luscious, and readers will enjoy a close-up view of the most fascinating paintings, porcelains, furniture, rooms, and décor. I’ll be showing a preview of images on THE STYLE SALONISTE soon.

For more information on Restoration Hardware, the new design galleries, store locations, Baby & Child, or to request a new catalog:

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.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Designer Jonathan Rachman Creates Buzz and a Dazzling Debut

The talk in San Francisco this week:

San Francisco Interior Designer Jonathan Rachman makes his first appearance at the San Francisco Decorator Showcase and it’s a hit.

His concept is ‘Collector’s Library’ with an exquisite grey/blue color scheme, and shelves crammed with treasures. 

With rare confidence and lashings of style, Jonathan created a highly original ‘collector’s cabinet’ that everyone in town wants. It’s a cabinet of curiosities—eccentric, chic, and unlike any room in this superb 2012 San Francisco Decorator Showcase.

Oh, and he caught the eye of top architects, leading landscape designers, and new clients galore. See their comments below.

Come on a magical mystery tour with me this week—and be inspired. Settle down with a cup of tea or a sip of wine. This is a long and detailed post—of a magical room. 

Jonathan’s Inspiration: Join us as I get the inside scoop

The Collector's Library

Travel and places I have been, especially my favorite places: Paris and Bali. I was born in Sumatra, went to school in Switzerland, lived in Paris and the US is my home for 25 years...this is a journey, a story of a collector.

Parisian chic/Le Marais, where I resided and influenced my sensibility: it's an artist village, a fashionista's heaven, simply chic — and always has something to offer for all kinds of creative minds.

Industrial London touch, I visited London a lot. I found it fascinating...all the metals/old constructions gave me a lot of visual design ideas. 

The concept:   wanted to create a classic European sensibility combined with a touch of industrial. Originally, when I moved in, this room had three different mahogany finishes, mis-matched in colors, outdated. But even in a horrible ‘before’ room there can be inspiration. I looked at the existing mantle and grey marble fireplace surrounding, I was instantly transported back to France.

I wanted to create a 'time travel' room (as in machine!), as I traveled through my collections, where they come from and when. 

The paint:  Benjamin Moore: Graphite high gloss finish (4 coats) for all panels and cross beams for coffered ceiling. This color is a constant reminder of Le Marais...and it instantly transports me back to my old neighborhood, I used to get off at the Rambuteau Metro station perfectly situated in the 3eme and 4eme of Paris, as I used to stroll between Les Philosophes restaurant (my absolute neighborhood resto) and Places des Vosges.  Benjamin Moore Linen White high gloss for flat part of coffered ceiling. 

The antiques:  Louis XVI style settee covered with black and white ticking fabric. I found this four years ago in an apartment in rue Chapon about to be discarded by owner, our best friend and gifted to me instantly. For the longest time, it was simply covered in an old muslin, and I loved the look. Last year, I recovered it with the black and white ticking.

Louis XVI style chairs with caned back with vintage French fabric flanking the fire place: from my random visits to estate sales in Atherton.

Louis XIII chair with gray grosgrain trim detail under modern photograph of "Wing Tip: Revisited". This chair looked so dowdy when I found them, upholstered with a very tired and sun damaged flowery fabric. I was walking around Marche Paul Bert, tired, with my client and simply put myself down on this chair.

Primitive stone farming tools from east Indonesia on mantel: from my latest trip to Bali.

"Loro Blonjo" – Javanese Sculpture in front of fire place. A constant reminder of my origins,

Vintage: World War II American A-26B "Invader" bomber wing tip over the mantel My first purchase from a collector in San Francisco of anything 'airplane' from WWII era.

Silhouettes from 17th-20th century, including George Washington's wax silhouette are from Keith and Howard, my dear friends from Antique Art & Exchange, Vermont Street, San Francisco. 

The collections:  Private collection of Jonathan Rachman Design collected from Asia, western Europe and the US

Justaposed to the vintage WWII wingtip, across from the room: a giant picture of Airbus 330 winglet/wing from Jonathan Rachman's window seat taken by Iphone between Bali and Taipei at sunset, titled "Wing Tip: Revisited", this is the newest collection . Available after showcase at: www.onekingslane/shop/

Other collections include: spectacles, various Victorian era objects,Joan Crawford's or check , industrial tools, apothecaries (reminds me of Deyrolle, taxidermist in Paris), binoculars (I love going to opera and ballet!), corals (in various colors of white, coral and blue!), (a wooden saddle from Java. china doll, beetle nut powder case (from Sumbawa or Timor island, made of hollowed horse bone), metal match boxes (from the US, France and Italy. 

Says Jonathan:

This room tells a story: real and imagined with my creative fantasy. The pendant lights were chicken feeders. I point out the WWII A26B wingtip and I hear stories about when someone or their father or grandfather was in the active duty then.

This room, is a perfect vehicle for me to showcase my true passion in design: less formulated and contrived ,classic and timeless, yet current and contemporary. The shelves host my collection, as if they always belong in the room. 


"Your Collector's Library was the highlight of the show. I was thinking about it all morning" – architect Andrew Skurman

"This room bridges the past and the present, it is the ‘Out of Africa’ of the showcase" – Robert J. Eberle, a client at opening party

"This reminds me of Sir John Soane's Library!" – a visitor first week at the showcase

The flooring:  French Bros. Flooring America: Cork tile in pyramid creme color the natural thing to do was a hardwood, BUT, there are already hardwood floors everywhere in the house. I believe the new generation of cork is very chic, practical and can accommodate a lot of different rooms and styles. this specific color and variation add to the personality of the room — not only it is easy on your back, it is another conversation piece — and a design element. 

It's All in the Details...
Photographer John Merkl also shot some wonderfully atmospheric close-ups of Jonathan’s ‘cabinet’, and I’ve included them below. 

“I was truly captivated by Jonathan’s room-- the setting, the deep, dark tones, the objects and the compositions throughout. For a photographer perpetually in search of beauty and elegance in interiors, it was a watershed moment! I knew I had to shoot it.” — John Merkl

Main photography of Jonathan Rachman's room at the San Francisco Decorator Showcase is by David Duncan Livingston,

Portrait by Christina Cavallaro,

Details images are by John Merkl,

All photography exclusive to THE STYLE SALONISTE and used with express permission from the photographers.


Jonathan Rachman,

San Francisco Decorator Showcase, through May 28: