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Full House

Perched atop Telegraph Hill, Jen Kelly and Will Wick’s dramatic San Francisco penthouse offers two designers’ escapist pleasures and family fun.

Less than a minute. That’s how long it took Jen Kelly, vice president of creative development at Restoration Hardware, and her husband, Will Wick, interior designer/Battersea antiques store owner, to decide on their light-filled Telegraph Hill penthouse. Its expansive terrace, alluring bay views and airy rooms—quintessentially San Francisco—would be perfect, they agreed, for their four children, Miles, 19, Sabine, 17, Luisa, 12, and Isabela, 7. Their instant attraction was also underpinned with practical matters like having five large bedrooms, an open kitchen and a large family room. The modernist building was designed in the 1940s by noted architects Hertzka and Knowles. The penthouse was updated and remodeled 20 years ago by Walker Warner Architects and most recently by Kuth Ranieri Architects.

Two highly opinionated interior designers under the same roof might suggest a clash of styles, but under Kelly’s direction, the decor is dramatic, frisky and cohesive. “Yes, we are two married designers, but the penthouse was my responsibility and the current look is very much my design, my styling, my approach,” she says. “We have plenty of heated debates but generally agree with each other. I notice that under Will’s subliminal influence I’ve calmed down, gained more restraint and edited with more polish and authority. I learn endlessly from Will’s breadth of knowledge.”

Each space, highly biographical, is filled with the contents of two design-crazed decades. “I love rooms with black and brass and color and print, as well as tribal pieces and organic elements, and we’ve mixed them with more classic and sleek pieces,” she explains. The contrast of refined and rough-hewn, glamorous and folkloric creates tension and harmony, like 1960s Ponti curves against African carvings. “I’ve collected from around the world—Florence, Brussels, London, Los Angeles, Morocco—and I love to start with one amazing piece, like the canopy bed in Luisa’s bedroom.”

From dinner parties to someone practicing guitar or playing the inherited 1920s Steinway grand piano, the house creates great creative energy. “I have never decorated in a way that is because of kids,” says Kelly. “They’ve grown up with design. In fact, they are now pretty bossy with their own ideas.”

The results are stylish and relaxed. “We see the sunrise over the Berkeley Hills, and watch aircraft carriers and cargo ships gliding past. The Bay Lights on the Bay Bridge are so close it feels like private artwork.” Adds Kelly, “It’s like being on vacation every day.”

By Diane Dorrans Saeks.
Photographed by Douglas Friedman.

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