Designer Drew McGukin was charged with creating the San Francisco home for a repeat client from the East Coast, her Aussie husband, and their toddler son. His goal was to embrace his client’s love of bold statements and wallpaper while creating a warm, inviting home that is easy to live in and entertain. Despite a toddler in the home, every space is livable and made for use. Drew shares his creative process below and the home in the slideshow!
Have you always had an interest in interior design?
I was the kid who constantly rearranged, redecorated and re-accessorized my room. I’m talking over and over again, and I’m not quite sure I’ve ever grown out of that phase. By trade my father is a land surveyor and developer and my mother a florist who has the natural gift of interiors. Somewhere between those two, it was programmed into me to do this.
What requests did your client have for the space?
This home belongs to a wonderful, repeat client of mine. I say “repeat” but from the word go, she and I agreed we didn’t want to do anything in this house we’d done before. Words I live to hear. Her previous projects in Manhattan were her single-in-the-city days. The move to San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood marked marriage and a baby. Simply put, this house had more to answer for. Light, elegant, and fresh topped their list of wants. Gorgeous art, wonderful fabrics, and “wow” moments topped mine. The final combination feels sophisticated with enough design room to mold and shape to their family and yet unfussy enough so no one falls out if a juice cup falls over.
Where design is concerned, I rarely hold back. So when this client who loves wallcoverings said she wanted to use as many as possible, I leaned in with wild abandonment. Honestly, it opened up the entire home. I feel like each room had been languishing under the early 2000s mandate of “greige” everything and ebonized wood details everywhere. In a word that’s heavy. To lighten and brighten became our goal. In the end I feel like we liberated this house.
This project included a major renovation. Where there any challenges during construction?
For challenges we had the usual suspects for San Francisco. Excavating the basement for an elevator to make the house liveable in the later years was a hair-raising process. Custom stair runners that showed up woven for the wrong stairs felt like a day I could have done without. Realizing we’d all fallen out of love with the kitchen we were certain was fine to stay left us juggling to fit in a kitchen remodel in our already over-packed timeline. We fit it in but it felt like the design equivalent of laying on the floor to zip up your skinny jeans. Suck it in. And then there was the day we discovered that a kind-hearted homeless man had moved in during the construction. The silver lining of that was that he cleaned the house and left hidden notes that we’re still finding to this day.
See the home in the slideshow!