Monday, November 12, 2018

Miles Redd Before and After

So, after my last post, I thought that you might all enjoy a REAL before and after. And it's a great one. It's VERY LONG, but it's a great post. This seriously took me over a month to research, and I'm still not really able to give you all of the details - but it's time to put this out there and let you digest it! Let's begin with the story of the house, shall we? Grab some coffee or wine or vodka if you have to, and let's drunkenly stumble down the path of maybe getting this puzzle solved.

House History

Built in 1907, shortly after the devastating earth quake and subsequent fires that pretty much destroyed "old" San Francisco, the original owner chose to stake claim in what has since become premier Presidio Heights. The house (was) a whopping 9,000 square feet. In the city where real estate is the most expensive in the country, it's not hard to imagine why the house sold for a mind-boggling $18 million dollars. Lovingly cared for, the house was built for Alfred Sutro and his wife, Rose and has had only 3-owners, including the current young couple who hired Miles to decorate it.

Completely covered in climbing fig, the house feels tucked into the landscape, although it's mere feet from the street. It was the plan of the architect who designed the house, Alfred H. Jacobs, who later went on to put his name on several mass community buildings, including the California Theatre, now leveled. This house was one the young Jewish architect designed for Alfred Sutro, a society man born in Victoria, B.C.. Alfred moved to San Francisco as a child with his family, at the age of 6. Apart from his time away at Harvard, Sutro spent his life in San Francisco. He was a very prominent attorney, acting as general counsel of Pacific Telephone and Telegraph. Building a home of this size in this location, with generous views of the Presidio, Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay from every floor and garden wasn't inexpensive - even in 1907, and it's rare that an attorney, even a great attorney, would have the means to do so. So where did the money come from?

Family Money

Alfred was well known in society circles in Los Angeles and San Francisco, a nephew of Adolph Sutro, who had been mayor of San Francisco. Adolph Sutro was a prolific land owner and developer in San Francisco, and he owned nearly all of the west side of the city. The site of his cliff side mansion is now a park that is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

An old photograph of the Sutro mansion and gardens. The house was demolished in 1939, after it deteriorated to near shambles under the care of Adolph Sutro's daughter, but even so, the value of the estate lay primarily in the land - which was donated by the Sutro's to the city. If you're in San Francisco, you'll find Sutro Heights Park still a beautiful place to tour.

The Sutro family had gotten their money from Comstock Lode silver ore. Immense fortunes were made during the silver rush of 1859, and the Sutro family cashed in. Big time. With that money, they collected books, which are now part of the Sutro Library in San Francisco, land, most of which has been divided among heirs, or gifted to the city of San Francisco, and the University of California. They also spent lavishly to rule San Francisco's high society. They wanted to be known, and they were.

Adolph died in 1898 cash poor, but left considerable land fortune to his young heirs. Among them, Alfred. He used this money and land to build the home for he and his wife Rose at 3660 Jackson Street after their wedding in 1902. There they would raise their family, and steward (along with their full-time live in staff of 5) one of the most luxurious homes in all of San Francisco.

Alfred died in 1945, leaving the house and it's care to Rose. She died in 1977, and the house went up for sale. It  was purchased by Frederick Lawrence Carroll, Jr.. In his younger years Fred worked as a stock broker and investment banker, and later owned Royal Supply Company, a restaurant supply company. The company flourished, and he continued making very successful investments. Shortly after his marriage to second wife Christina, they bought the house and hired Michael Taylor Interiors to decorate it. 25-years later, the couple would have Suzanne Tucker update the Michael Taylor interiors, ever so slightly. When Fred passed away at the family ranch in Burney, California, the house became too much for Christina to care for. So, it went up for sale, and was quickly snagged by this young California couple who couldn't wait to make it their own.

The Before and Afters

Michael Taylor designed the house for Fred and Christina after they bought it in 1977. Later, in 2003, they hired Suzanne Tucker to refresh the house a bit. So, what you're seeing in the first before shots of the house are the real estate photos showing mostly the Michael Taylor designs that had been dressed up by Suzanne. But, after the new owners bought the house, they donated its use to the 2014 San Francisco Designer's Show House while they waited for Miles Redd and architect Gil P. Schafer to finish all of the planning for the house. So, there are thousands of photos of this house online now ... warning, not all of them are great!

Before the Showhouse, Michael Taylor design. He freshened up the original dark entrance hall with the poured concrete floor, inlaid with wood. I personally would love to see this space in it's original 1907 black and white, wouldn't you? Unfortunately - I wasn't able to find any photos of the home while the Sutro's lived there.

After the Showhouse, the concrete floor with the wood inlay is covered by a nearly wall-to-wall installation of cowhide carpeting that has a gold fleck in the entry hall designed by Jonathan Rachman. Walls are covered with grasscloth paper and portieres are installed between the main living spaces and the entry way.

After Miles, wallpaper removed, the walls are coated in Farrow and Ball. Floors are covered in custom cut seagrass, and the stairs are covered in a animal print by Patterson Flynn Martin.

The Michael Taylor dining room. Suzanne Tucker updated the fabrics here, but it was Taylor who commissioned the hand-painted wallpaper, and had the mouldings installed, faux painted and waxed to mimic pale raw oak.

The designers of the Showhouse room kept the wallpaper, making minimal necessary repairs to it. They had commented that after 30+ years, the wallpaper had seen better days. George Brazil and Cecilia Sagrera-Hill designed the space with new drapery and more modern art and furnishings.

After Miles. Wow. Just ... wow. Miles and the new owners commissioned Gracie wallpapers to do a custom paper for the dining room, replacing the damaged wallpaper installed by Taylor but keeping the Chinoiserie vibe. Chairs by Liz O'Brien editions are covered in Lee Jofa Althea, a designer favorite chintz. The chandelier is the Michael Taylor original.

What I also love here is the nearly wall-to-wall blue and white stripe dhurrie, and how it creates such a fresh playfulness to this formal space. This is a room I would want to eat in everyday. How about you?

Architectural Digest only showed this view of the space. Thankfully though, Miles showed a few others on his instagram.

Oh, and by the way. If you're eyeing those console tables, you can buy remarkable copies that Miles designed for Ballard, here.

The Michael Taylor Foyer.

The foyer from the showhouse, missing the lantern.

After Miles, the walls are painted in a trompe-l'oeil style to make the room look tented by Agustin Hurtado, inspired by Casa degli Antellani in Milan. An antique Swedish clock hangs over a rococo style table, which replaces the other rococo style table that had been there when Taylor designed the space. Thank God that lantern came back! 

Michael Taylor living room as refreshed by Suzanne Tucker. I have to say that the original Michael Taylor was far more beautiful.

Don't you think? The furniture covered in that same deep ocean blue as the rug and the bullion fringe. So much better than the white. Pay close attention to those mirrors though.

The showhouse living room, designed by Heather Hilliard and Fleur Keyes had a strange plaster effect to the walls. The shutters were removed, and the rug replaced by a large jute boucle rug.

After Miles. Yes, this is the same room! The bookcases were added, recessed into an adjoining room to create an architectural detail the space needed and never had. The walls look to be painted, but they are actually covered in satin fabric by high-end fabric house, Brunschwig & Fils. That mirror though, looks so much like one of the pair that Taylor used on the opposite side of the room in his design, doesn't it? It is! And where oh where did the mate go? It ended up in Miles' office in NYC:

Miles and his team under the mirror. This should give you an idea of the scale of this mirror, and the impressive scale of the room in San Francisco. More of the Presidio Heights living room from Miles' instagram:

This shows that pale blue satin going up on the walls. So beautiful.

And a look at the antique rug, and other fabrics being pulled together at the beginning of the process. The opposite side of the room, has a baby grand piano.

The parlor as seen in the real estate photos. There are no Michael Taylor photos (that I've found) of this space.

The showhouse version of the room featured a gold leafed ceiling and modern furniture and art.

From Miles' instagram a sneak peek at the room now which acts as a reading room of sorts, and holds some of the couple's prized collection of artwork. Unfortunately there aren't any other photos of this space and how Miles decorated it available yet.

Moving upstairs now, the Master Bedroom:

Michael Taylor chose Lee Jofa's Jardin Chinois for the inset panels of the master bedroom, a large, but not overly swollen room in the house - at least it seems, right? Well, it actually is the ENTIRE second floor among it's many rooms.

Anyway - back to the bedroom for now ...

While this photo is small, it shows the process in the 70's of the walls being upholstered in the fabric. Isn't that cool?

This photo shows the room better than the real estate photos did (of course) styled with slipper chairs at the foot of the bed.

Antonio Martins painted the floors glossy white, and had the walls tiled with hand-painted azulejos tiles to help usher in a look inspired by his Portugese heritage. Hmmm.

Where there had once been a desk in the Michael Taylor design, the showhouse room has an outdoor pool chaise lounge from the 1970s. Looks cozy, right? (note the sarcasm) Personally, I was more than eager to see what Miles did to this room.

And wow. Just wow. Perfection, really. It's hard to imagine that this is the same room, mostly because of how Miles chose to orient the furniture in the room.

But also because Gil Schafer worked some incredible magic on the architecture of the room, adding period appropriate moldings, and restoring the fireplace mantel to it's former glory.

In a corner of the room detail from the AD shoot. It's clear that Miles too advantage of the floor being painted in this space, using it as a base for this beautiful geometric design that appears now. Love this look with Chinoiserie wallpaper.

Now, going back to the floorplan really quickly:

Notice the library on the opposite side of the master suite. This room is gorgeous, facing the bay with sweeping views of the Presidio. There are a total of 6 bedrooms in the house. The children each have their own rooms, obviously, but the only room featured in the AD article was the daughter's bedroom. From what I've been able to surmise from the photos of the spaces, is that she was given what was initially a large guest suite, which included a sitting area and bathroom.

A few photos of tid-bits from the house were shared on Miles' instagram:

Based on the floorplan, and the view from the window above, this is the dressing room on the second floor, which adjoins the master bedroom.

And this, the renovated Master Bathroom. These rooms were so altered by Gil's design that it's hard to approximate a before photo that shows the changes. And that's why, with few photos of the finished space, and rooms that have been so architecturally altered, the house starts to get a little blurry, unfortunately. The Architectural Digest article didn't show the complete renovation with all rooms as the entire house wasn't finished (and still isn't) when the article was photographed. What I can tell you is that a HUGE change happened with the house.

The Demolition

The house started out with a kitchen and breakfast room expansion overseen and designed by Taylor in the 1970s.

However, for the showhouse, House Beautiful sponsored the kitchen, calling it their "Kitchen of the Year" and tasking designer Steven Miller with creating a kitchen that would have all of the must have features and design for 2015.

Not that it really matters what I think - but I don't like this. I mean, I don't like it all. Thankfully though, all of this changed. Gil Schafer oversaw the demolition of the 2-story brick and wood breakfast room/deck/potting shed that you see above, and the complete renovation of it and the kitchen.

Pre-demolition. You can see the large floor to ceiling windows of the sunroom, that lead out to a wooden deck.

During the demolition process, the structure was completely removed.

And this new addition was created.

The rendering of the addition that G.P. Schafer designed. Unforunately, that's where the dig sorta ends. There are no interior photos of the renovated kitchen, although I know that it is no longer black. The Architectural Digest article featured the breakfast room designed by Miles, though:

Also unfortunately, Miles hasn't updated his website since 2014. So there are very few photos of this project available even posted by him. That's not unusual prior to publishing, but after publishing? Which leads me to believe that this is going to be published again, once the renovation is completed.

Here, the same shot of the new addition/breakfast room without the kids. I was able to find one photo of the install process:

There's no way that this house won't be featured again, perhaps in a book, or another magazine. There are so many collective homes books that come out from time to time that I'm sure it will end up in one based in San Francisco at some point, and we will finally get to see how it all came together. For now though, the rooms that we have seen are a brilliant example of what beauty can come from good design and wonderful architecture.

Hope you enjoyed what bits and pieces I was able to collect to give you this post. If you want to see more of Miles' work, you can check out his MASSIVE coffee table book, THE BIG BOOK OF CHIC, here:

And if you're looking to decorate a little more like Miles does, you can check out his line for Ballard Designs here. Here are a couple of my favorites, click the photo to be taken to Ballard: 


  1. Wow! Just wow! Miles Redd is without a doubt the master of combining colour and pattern (and not have it looking "bohemian"). His rooms are stunning. I have been inspired.

  2. Fabulous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But, I'm sticking with the pink sofa library on the 2nd floor story. lol

    Gorgeous house!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. 2nd story paneled library windows aren't arched. That's the music room on the first floor, off of the grand foyer adjacent to the dining room. :)

  3. Thanks God for Miles!! That house was suffering, lol! Both of the previous iterations were awful, but the showcase was the worst :( Living and dining rooms are gorgeous...

  4. Uh-oh-uh-ohh. Ahh...Ahmazing

  5. Artie now I`m able to speak. This is amazing research! Do you work as interior decorator or you`re enterpreteur and writer? I mean I would hire you not Miles (a girl can dream). But Miles is amazing too!

  6. I think that this place is really suitable for any size of gathering. By the way, they offer a day care room with lots of toys for children. The food at wedding venues is always delicious and the service is always great. Also the view is absolutely amazing.