A Los Altos Hills home surprises and delights with unexpected art and furnishings.
A custom headboard and settee lend a fresh, serene touch to the master bedroom.
Globe-trotting around the world with few possessions in tow, a family of three and a dog named Bosley were ready to lay down roots when a new-construction home in Los Altos Hills popped up. The young couple, both working in tech at the time, entrusted San Francisco-based designer Heather Hilliard to spend the next eight months filling all 7,000 square feet with a mix of antiques; contemporary art; and bright, bold furnishings.
“It was really kind of a clean slate,” says Hilliard, whose client sought to bring in texture, prints, and her favorite blue and green hues with minimal restraint. “She wanted it to be supercolorful. The color volume is probably turned up to 11 on this home.”
To start, Hilliard swapped out the fireplace mantels and decorative lighting that once appealed to a builder, but not an interior designer with a Master of Fine Arts degree in design and 17 years of experience. Next, Hilliard took style cues from the wife, whose aesthetic she describes as “classic with an edge,” to pair antique and traditional-leaning custom furniture with unexpected pieces like a neon green Alexandra von Furstenberg acrylic cocktail table (that you can’t help but notice in the living room) and a Heller Kiss chair out near the pool.
“She really liked references to the past,” says Hilliard, “but being in tech in Silicon Valley, she’s really thinking about innovation and looking forward too.”
Sourcing art became a collaborative process, as both the homeowner and the designer—who is trained in art history and contemporary art—visited galleries around San Francisco to find paintings that struck a color and texture chord in each room, like Marius Bosc’s “Women of the Belle Epoque” (2009), which conspicuously picks up the living room’s blue hues; and a graphic black-and-white oil by the late Bay Area artist Charley Brown, which pokes dramatic fun hanging over a delicately printed Sigourney wallpaper by China Seas.
“I try not to be a style-driven designer that has a formulaic look,” says Hilliard. “I feel like once you’re trained in design, it’s important to take into consideration the context of the site and the architecture and what the client wants.”
What the client wanted, in this case, was the flexibility to bring together groups large and small. “I knew she’d be doing a lot of entertaining,” says Hilliard. The homeowner, who left tech to pursue a passion and a career in competitive horse jumping, wanted to shift the conversation in the Valley from all tech all the time, by hosting speakers on topics that range from current events to design, food and fashion.
Riviera counter stools from Serena & Lily keep the kitchen casual.
With that in mind, Hilliard designed the living room to accommodate intimate gatherings where, if needed, guests could pull up a dining chair, covered in purple-dyed horsehair (echoing the expansive lavender fields outside) or a custom-made ottoman designed in Pierre Frey Idaho fabric. The family room, in turn, could serve larger groups with two custom lagoon-colored sofas and additional space in the shared breakfast area, where guests could engage around the lava stone racetrack table on vintage klismos chairs.
The private spaces, like the master bedroom, lean more traditional for Silicon Valley standards, but pops of cheek like Philip Nimmo Design’s fireplace screen with the word “Hot” emblazoned on the front keep the home from erring too far into precious territory. Artist Sherie’ Franssen’s flesh-colored oil on canvas, “Ladyland” (2012), does the same against a wall-to-ceiling aqua Les Touches wallpaper by Brunschwig & Fils, striking the perfect balance of edgy classicism.
The family has now settled into the home for more than a year, keeping Hilliard’s design mostly intact and embracing the comfort and color of a home not typical to neighboring interiors or Hilliard’s other Silicon Valley projects; instead, it’s truly a symbol of their taste and lifestyle. “It’s a lot brighter than anything I’ve ever done, which was so fun to do,” says Hilliard. “We try to be the editors and help to educate people on what’s available and what is appropriate. But, in the end, you really want the clients to feel like they’re home.”
Photography by: BEDROOM PHOTO BY DAVID DUNCAN LIVINGSTON; KITCHEN PHOTO BY JOHN MERKL