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San Francisco-based interior designer Palmer Weiss achieves the aesthetic impossible: pleasing the style-conscious parents of young children.

The creations of San Francisco-based interior designer Palmer Weiss, who expertly applies a neo-traditional aesthetic and reverence for antiques to luxurious yet livable family spaces, are in high demand. That’s because most of her clients are just like her: financial-VC types who are mid-aged marrieds with young children.

Following art and architecture studies at Brown University, Weiss dove into business school at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “Before design, I had, like, 14 other careers: investment banker, Internet consultant, retail merchandiser,” laughs Weiss as she ticks them off. Voraciously curious and delightfully opinionated, the Charleston, S.C.-reared Weiss had an early introduction to her current field as the daughter of acclaimed interiors expert Kathleen Rivers. “My training is more an osmosis from my mom,” she admits. “I’m not one of those designers who’s been rearranging her room since age 6. But I can easily identify an Oushak rug.” In 2002, Weiss finally acknowledged how much she loathed her final business-sector job and took the terrifying leap to establish her own firm.

For this Presidio Heights project, homeowners Kirsten Green, founder of the firm Forerunner Ventures, and her husband, Virtú Investments co-founder Michael, were thrilled that Weiss understood the need for the space to cater to both adult soirées and pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey parties for their two young children. The initial focus was a major build-out: brightening the dark, dingy dining room and transforming the cramped kitchen into the oft-requested great room. The rest was a fairly blank canvas, and while Weiss leans toward color, her clients favored a palette of muted gray tones. Still, pops of saturated hues sneak in via accents, including floral Art Nouveau-indebted wallpaper in the office and a lively lemon-yellow settee in the master bedroom. “My sort-of-cliché tag-line is ‘livable luxury,’ ” she explains of her guiding impulse toward balancing beauty with utility. “I want my clients’ homes to be beautiful, of course. But these homes are also for their families. And they don’t want to worry about spilling juice on a $10,000 ottoman.”

Written by  CATHERINE BIGELOW.
Photography by  MATTHEW MILLMAN.

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