Deciding that it was time to move away from the city (San Francisco) to spread out a bit more, a couple found this beautifully rustic home in San Anselmo, California – with its 4,700 square-feet, it was the perfect place for them to enjoy a more relaxed pace of life where their four-year-old daughter could play and enjoy the outdoors. But as much as it appealed to their penchant for rustic spaces, it still felt quite dated having been built in the ’90s and untouched since, with elements such as beige walls, heavy stone, and too much wood everywhere. The couple brought Katie Monkhouse on board to give their new home a contemporary and cohesive concept.
“The homeowners sent me the link to the house and said that they didn’t want to renovate and that they wanted a ‘romantic rustic’ look,” Katie shared. “This is so not my aesthetic, so I just didn’t see how it was going to work. But they were also super open and looking for guidance so we spent a good chunk of time just diving into the aesthetic before either of us decided to work together. We came up with a look that was closer to a Ralph Lauren refined rustic vibe and less ‘romantic’.” While the wife gravitated towards more traditional profiles, the husband preferred a contemporary look. So it was up to Katie to bridge the two while also honoring the original style of the home.
In the open entryway, living room, kitchen, and dining room there were some challenges: “The space just appeared huge, with large flagstone floors that felt cavernous,” she said. “We needed to create some intimacy so we added ceiling fixtures to define each area in the open space. We also lime washed both of the fireplaces in the great room (one in the dining space and one in the living room) to eliminate at least one material.” Getting the limewash exactly right, though was difficult in of itself. “We had them re-done twice trying to get the right color,” Katie said. “Lime paint reacts different depending on the surface it is applied to so the stone took the color differently than the plaster above the mantle.”
Another obstacle during the home’s transformation was figuring out a solution to the very dated buffet in what the homeowners affectionately call the “Snug” – the green painted sitting room. Realizing that if they were to remove the buffet that it would mean having to match the stone flooring of the room, Katie decided to go for a simpler solution. “We removed the ’90s granite top and replaced it with walnut and built an open shelf system on top to create some separation and interest for that space,” she explained.
In this particular project, Katie relied heavily on Michael Finzio for the millwork and even many of the furniture pieces. Throughout the home his craftsmanship can be seen such as the coffee table in the “Snug”, the canopy bed in the guest room, and the white oak dining table. He also was responsible for creating the series of built-ins with a sliding step-ladder in the blue-toned library.
Much of the selection of furnishings was chosen with the intention of softening up the home’s heavy stone materials. Katie sourced vintage worn leather chairs to give the overall design a bit of soul. She added soft wool rugs and upholstery pieces with curved lines, as well as wallpapered the little girl’s room and powder room to add a little bit of quirk. As for the artwork, the homeowners were adamant about supporting local artists only. All in all, from start to finish, the transformation took around six months. “I was brought on in late May last year and we installed in November,” she said. “Luckily we were about 90% installed for Thanksgiving so they could host 13 family members and really test out the house!”