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Flight of Fancy

A playful design challenge transforms a classic San Francisco Victorian into a colorful menagerie.


Custom touches abound at this Cow Hollow condo, starting with a green velvet sofa in the living room specially upholstered by Kroll Furniture. The nine-piece grid of small-scale animal artwork from ArtHaus Gallery fits the color palette of the space perfectly and even includes a custom commission of the homeowner's cat.

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Christensen worked with a cabinetmaker to create a furniture-inspired master bathroom vanity. The clawfoot tub is painted to match the Walker Zanger terra-cotta wall tile.

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Wood accents on the BDDW nightstands and side table create continuity in the master suite.

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"Stanley the Donkey," another piece from the homeowner's collection, lives above the family room fireplace. 

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In the kitchen, Christensen balances bright cabinetry with warm, neutral woods and a Carrara marble backsplash from Daltile. Ann Sacks concrete floor tile in three different patterns adds a layer of intrigue.

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The homeowner purchased this black-and-white photograph of a rhinoceros while on safari in Africa. Teal dining chairs from The Future Perfect make for a beautiful contrast.

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IDF Studio Design Director Jaclyn Christensen sits on a rich magenta bench in the condo's entryway—a fitting introduction to the pops of color throughout the home.

Photo: Craig Lee

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When Jaclyn Christensen of IDF Studio was first asked to design this 2,750-square-foot Cow Hollow condo using a pink color palette while showcasing the client’s love of animals, her initial reaction was one of delightful surprise. “I was grinning from ear to ear because we don’t often get direction like this,” she says. Christensen accepted the challenge head-on, feeling confident her client’s whimsical sense of style would make for a great collaboration.

The classic San Francisco Victorian had great bones, so Christensen preserved a number of original details, including crown molding, ceiling medallions and carved fireplace mantels, which would mesh beautifully with the feminine design the client was looking for. From there, they updated floors, painted walls and overhauled a kitchen remodel from the '90s that felt dark and outdated. They also converted two closets on the first floor of the three-bedroom, three-bath unit—one into a laundry room and the other into a bar area, complete with a striking teal-and-graphic-print wallpaper by Kelly Wearstler.

Once the foundation was set, Christensen used tonal variations of the client’s favorite color—featuring it prominently in some spaces and adding it as an accent in others—to create a refined, sophisticated space. “I knew I could make it all work as long as I balanced punches of color with neutrals,” she says. In the kitchen, for example, Christensen paired teal cabinets with warm, neutral woods and a Carrara marble backsplash. Complementary hues in combination with thoughtfully placed animal artwork throughout the condo make the home feel thematic rather than kitschy.

Elsewhere in the home, the designer mixed olive greens, blues and dark fuchsias into the color palette, then layered in rich textures, such as velvet, and patterns in a tasteful way. “I love the juxtaposition of the black-and-white rhino photograph with the floral curtains in the dining room,” Christensen says. Custom elements, from built-ins and cabinetry to window treatments and upholstery, added another level of personalization. The open shelves in the living room were even specially engineered to hold heavy mirrors in place.

The collection of animal artwork throughout the bilevel condo—much of it acquired through the client’s travels—was reframed to give it a more curated feel. And the designer worked with San Francisco’s ArtHaus Gallery on a custom commission of the client’s cat for the living room. In another creative move, Christensen wrapped the powder room in puppy wallpaper and the laundry room in kitty wallpaper—both whimsical nods to her client’s regular volunteer work at the SPCA. “At first, I felt a little daunted by this project, but in the end, it was all about balance and making sure the client’s personality was reflected in her home,” says Christensen. “I loved every minute of it.”



Residence: Condominium
Neighborhood: Cow Hollow
Interior Design: IDF Studio 


Ann Sacks
Kitchen floor tile 

Living room area rug, family room cabinet, master bedroom nightstands and side table 

Custom Furniture Design
Custom shelving, entry bench, kitchen island 

Kitchen marble backsplash

Holly Hunt
Living room coffee table

Kelly Wearstler
Dining room console and mirror, bar wallpaper 

KGBL at De Sousa Hughes
Living room console

Kroll Furniture
Custom upholstery throughout

The Future Perfect
Dining room chairs 

Walker Zanger
Master bath wall tile 


Originally published in the February issue of San Francisco 

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