For designer Roselle Curwen, her own home needed to be livable, functional, casual, and thoughtful. The California native is well-trained in design: she holds a Masters of Architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BA in Art with an emphasis in Interior Design from San Diego State University. Though, she didn’t rely too heavily on any rules or concepts, instead letting the neighborhood and architecture guide her design decisions when it came to materials and furnishings. “The house is a backdrop to the lives and stories of the people living inside of it,” she says.

Over email, she tells us more.

Where is your home located? What do you love most about the neighborhood?

Our home is in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill. I picture a Wayne Thiebaud city landscape every time I walk through the hilly neighborhood. We love the sunny weather (Karl the Fog doesn’t creep over our house too often), and the proximity to the waterfront. It’s a great location with city views to the north, Sutro Tower to the west, and the San Francisco Bay to the east. 

What drew you to this house…were there any amenities or architectural details that especially stood out?

The house was originally built in 1912. The place was a corner market with upstairs living. Sometime in the 1970s, the center stoop entrance was removed, hence the funky orientation of the house…the main entrance is on the side of the house and a small balcony exists off the living and dining area. 

When we first toured the house, it was clear it needed a lot of work, but the challenge was part of the charm. There was no working electrical, so opening up the walls and rethinking the layout was key in transforming the functionality of the house.  We also learned that the prior owner was an architectural model maker for many of the skyscrapers in San Francisco. We saw the potential and wanted to do justice to the house. We wanted any remodel to reflect the story of the home’s history and the story of its future.  

Aesthetically, what were your main goals? Any must-haves or things you knew you had to have in the design?

Larger living spaces: kitchen, living room and dining room. We knew we wanted a kitchen island to congregate around and a dining area to harness the views. We also wanted a white and bright interior to contrast the black exterior. 

What is it like designing for yourself vs. a client? Is it easier or more difficult?

Designing for myself is much more difficult. There is a reason this has been a 5-year labor of love. Having insights and seeing all the beautiful artisan pieces is a blessing and a curse. I’ve ordered 2 chandeliers for the dining room and I’m still on the hunt for the perfect one. I’m calling the current West Elm chandelier a placeholder until I find the right one. 

What is a “perfect day” at home like for you?

A perfect day is getting ready for a dinner party with a few close friends. It starts with prepping in the kitchen and setting the dining table. When the appetizers hit, we’re ready for wonderful conversations to be had with the city views and the background hums of spinning vinyl.