In this interior designer’s home, the past walks closely beside the present, and he respectfully honors both.
In designer Antonio Martins’ home, the past walks closely beside the present, and the new owner carefully honors both. Martins purchased the Victorian in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood two years ago. Back then, the house was suffering from years of neglect and the accumulation of a lifetime’s worth of stuff. What the other would-be buyers missed was the mint-condition details: moldings (unsullied by layers of paint) as crisp as the day they were installed 100 years ago; ornate, original hardware and a gorgeous O’Keefe & Merritt stove, circa 1948.
Martins combined pieces he loved from around the world to give the space a personal feel. The chaise in the living room is inspired by 17th-century Biedermeier designs from Germany. The industrial side table is accessorized with Thai jewelry, while a Chinese hatbox serves as a colorful round occasional table.
Martins has an affinity for keeping options open and construction visible. This idea comes into play in the media room, where he stripped the upholstery fabric from a pair of Hans Wegner Papa Bear armchairs and left them covered in basic muslin. “I’m looking for the right fabric,” Martins says. “But until I find it, they look cool this way.” The chairs’ simple form is juxtaposed against an elaborate painting done by Martins’ friend Howie Keck and featuring—you guessed it—Drew Barrymore.
Martins uses the oposite wall in the media room wall and simple West Elm cubes to display a collection of terracotta sculptures he brought back from Asia. Sculptures: antique, Chinese Han Dynasty; Display cubes: West Elm.
Martins wanted to create a separate environment for the master bedroom, so he painted it an intense red. “It felt right to have one burst of color in the house,” he says.
When Martins couldn’t find the right textural wallpaper for his guest room, he made his own. “I bought yards of fabric and sent them to Proseal Plus, a company in Georgia that backs fabrics and turns them into wallpaper,” he says.
The bathroom was the most run-down space in the house, and it had a lot of awkward angles. Martins solved the problems by retaining the original moldings and painting them white, hanging a mirror from the ceiling and installing metal shelves for storage. The weathered vintage table (which has a new life as a vanity) and antique carriage lanterns add a touch of industrial chic to the room.
The narrow walkway to the backyard could be uninteresting and even grim, but Martins made it a small vertical garden by hanging his collection of Staghorn ferns and wooden machinery molds on the wall.
The kitchen was designed around the O’Keefe & Merritt stove purchased by Alva Neyhart in 1948. “It had been here so long, I had to keep it,” says Martins. “It didn’t work, so I had it repaired. The man who fixed it remembered working on it in the 1970s.”
By the time Martins arrived, the garden was overgrown and choked with weeds. He designed a space that relies on green succulents, ornamental grasses and groundcover for a more modern look. “On the weekends, this is my retreat,” he says. “I love to relax and nap on the sofa.”
By Mary Jo Bowling
Designed by Antonio Martins
Photo credit: Drew Kelly