In the Details
For San Francisco interior designer Jay Jeffers, stylish living is completely subjective.
Wit and sophistication happily dwell within the walls of Jay Jeffers and his husband Michael Purdy’s enchanting 1908 Edwardian cottage in San Francisco’s Castro district. Very much a study in playful luxe, this vibrant home has been Jeffers’ design laboratory for more than a decade. Lauded for his confident mixing of bold colors and playful fabrics, he knows how to inject interest and drama while creatively straddling the casual-versus-formality line. Pale cinnabar living room walls, punctuated with gray crown molding, bold stripes, antiques, and contemporary furnishings confidently suggest that this is no ordinary residence. The dining room walls are adorned with a diverse collection of oil paintings and portraiture that mix the new with the old, the quirky with the traditional, and the provocative with the serene. The work of several well-known artists including Forrest Williams, Sheldon Berkowitz, Christopher Brown, and local San Francisco talent Ada Sadler round out the eclectic mix.
Beyond bold colors and pretty patterns, Jeffers plays with proportion and scale to create visual excitement, but more importantly, he knows exactly when to pull back. “If you don’t have the right scale it doesn’t matter what you’ve done to the room or how much money you’ve spent—it is a failure.” Each room is emblematic of his ability to mix styles and periods. Aesthetically, he wants a space to feel as though it has been around for many years, a look he achieves by merging personal objects with traditional and contemporary pieces with touches of nostalgia and family heirlooms. Though he chose a more indirect professional route (first a degree in international business and marketing), the Dallas native began perfecting his craft at the age of twelve, reading Architectural Digest and then regularly rearranging his room. “There were only four walls and about five pieces of furniture, but I explored every possible combination.” While in design school Jeffers discovered a vintage book by the legendary designer Billy Baldwin, a tome that shaped many of his ideas and opinions.
“Paraphrasing Mr. Baldwin, ‘If someone walks into a house and immediately says Billy Baldwin did this home, then I haven’t done my job.’ At the end of the day, interiors should reflect the inhabitants and embody their personal point of view.” There is no telltale sign of a Jay Jeffers room—the subtle clues lie in the thoughtfully edited objects. Discriminating touches and elements of surprise abound—a boldly striped carpet runs down the stairs, a screen print of a bright pink Abraham Lincoln by Natalie Ammirato hangs against graphic Studio Printworks wallpaper, dimmers control every switch, and lightly scented candles burn in every room (except in the kitchen, which should only have the aroma of “a slow-cooking beef bourguignon”).
Written by Ronda Rice Carman
Photographed by Joe Fletcher
Images and text courtesy of © Designers at Home by Ronda Rice Carman, published by Rizzoli, New York, 2013