The search was long for designer Nicole Hollis’ clients, who had been looking for a home in the Noe Valley area of San Francisco for nearly four years. “We really wanted a family-friendly home in an urban environment,” says the homeowner. But after two and half years of house hunting, the homeowners finally gave in to the fact that what they wanted in a home would require some serious renovating … on a seriously tight budget. Luckily, they chose Hollis to make their dream home—a circa-1970s Edwardian row home—come to fruition. And she was able to use a few design tricks from previous projects to cut costs yet still create the stylish family space the homeowners craved. “It’s a very graphic home with black and white, but we used a lot of wood and other textures to warm up the spaces and make them feel cozy,” explains Hollis. The result is a wholly modern 2,200 square-foot space that seamlessly doubles as a family and entertaining space. Here’s how Hollis did it.
What were some of the must-have design elements?
There were certain things that the clients really wanted to do. Furnishings such as the Prouve chairs and the dining table from De Sousa Hughes were pieces they absolutely loved. They also decided to put money toward a beautiful marble slab that really elevated the look and added a rich feel to the space and warmed up the graphic black and white. These were used for the countertop and waterfall feature on the kitchen island and also on the wall in the shower in the master bathroom.
What design element did you use in the home that you feel readers should try?
I think art is always important. It’s a way to make a space feel more personal and expressive. The piece in the dining room is by my sister, Tanya Hollis.
What things did you want to take advantage of in the home?
There was a lot of natural light and very high ceilings. We took advantage of this with the bright palette and high contrast.
What was the inspiration for the design of the home?
The clients. They have a young family and needed a lot more function in a small space. They also have a modern sensibility and wanted a fresh look.
How did you work with a limited budget on this project?
Behind the walls, we made a point of working with all the existing plumbing, heating, and cooling. When you start moving this around, it can get expensive. We also tried to use less expensive materials in more creative ways. In the kids’ bath, we used a stock white penny tile from Daltile that often goes on the floor. We used it on the walls of the shower instead. To dress up the less expensive tile, we added a fixture with a pop of color from Fantini. Having fixtures in an unexpected metal—like brass or black—is a way to add interest to classic white tile instead of the expected chrome.
Were there any great resources you utilized to save money on the design that you could recommend to readers?
Where else did you save?
In the kitchen, we added panels to all the appliances. Even affordable appliances these days are panel-ready, and that can create a sleeker, savvier look for the kitchen in a cost-effective way. In the master bathroom, we used a standard size Ann Sacks Nero tile but put it in a herringbone pattern. Again, that is a fairly standard material used in an eye-catching way. Instead of replacing the wood floors, we stained them dark and the cabinets and walls were white painted. Paint and stain can be great options if you don’t have the budget to install new surfaces and flooring. We used Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White throughout on the walls for a seamless look from room to room. Also, if there are pieces you really love, look for floor samples. The client purchased the dining table right off the floor. This was a piece they really loved, and this made it accessible for them.
What are some of your favorite things about the home?
There is a lot of storage here. And when you have kids, you can’t get enough of it. The kitchen has a great pantry with a magnetic wallcovering by Lori Weitzner that allows for rotating artwork and notes. It’s a way to organize the clutter without losing any of the personality. I also love the graphic feel of the space. It’s a modern home but a real family home, too.