Sunday, February 10, 2019

Mark D. Sikes in Elle Decor

At first glance, you may not be one who would give this issue of Elle Decor a second thought. It's loud. Maybe too loud? And while Mary McDonald is one of my favorite designers, the clients for whom she decorated this house have a taste that is bold, colorful, and specific, far beyond my own. If you're at all interested, I highly recommend reading the now edited (by force of attorneys on behalf of the owner and Mary) story written by my friend Joni at Cote de Texas, here. But beyond the cover, and the multi-million dollar beachfront new build mansion decorated in bold colors inspired by a makeup palette, is the sweet and awe inspiring Portola Valley home dressed in neutrals by Mark D. Sikes. 

When I saw the house, I immediately recognized it from Mark's instagram posts over 2-years ago, and a book where the gardens, meticulously curated by Janell Denler Hobart had been photographed by Marion Brenner for a Monacelli Press tome, PRIVATE GARDENS OF THE BAY AREA.

The house had been damaged badly by the fires that ripped through northern California and had to be gutted entirely. Now empty nesters, the owners decided to enlist Walker Warner Architects, the firm that built the house for them in 1999, to help them redesign the flow. Mark was brought in to decorate.

The first picture I remember seeing of the house was this one, posted to Mark's instagram during the install. A beautiful pool and guest house sit on a lower terrace of the property with a large edible garden adjacent the pool area, divided by a hedgerow.

From the Elle Decor story, photo by Dominque Vorillon showing the chaise lounges, and hedgerow dividing the pool area from the garden. The gardens were shot, along with exterior porches and patio areas of the house for the book by Marion Brenner

Can you even believe how gorgeous this is? The homeowner is an avid gardener and cook. Her husband grew up with a mother who also had a verdant green thumb, so this is an important part of their lives. Five years in the making, this garden is as beautiful as it is fruitful, and Mark decided to use this as inspiration for the interior spaces. 

Mark snapped this photo of the exterior shorty after installing the interiors of the house, and posted it to instagram.

Another side of the house, shot by Marion Brenner, landscape design by Hobart. I could spend hours walking around this garden, asking questions and soaking up the beauty of it all, couldn't you?

Mark posted this picture to his instagram of the twisted vines that create a tunnel from one area of the garden to another.

And another photo by Brenner of roses climbing softly along the corners of the porch and mudroom.

A photo from Mark's instagram during install showing the view from this window to the outside areas. A flower cutting area and soapstone sink and counter. Even if you were a terrible flower arranger (and you're not) but EVEN IF YOU WERE, who wouldn't love spending time at this sink reaping the beauty of that garden.

A photo by Brenner, showing the porch beyond this mudroom looking out into the beautiful garden, with vine covered pergolas and hedgerows guarding glorious bed after bed of edible delight. And the view! Spectacular.

From the book. Seriously - so good. If you're a gardener, or you simply love the beauty of a garden, you won't be disappointed in your purchase, I promise. Inspiration on every page - particularly in this garden.

Like many of the projects that high end designers like Mark complete for clients, photos are sparse until the house is published by a magazine, or included in a book. And true to form, there aren't a lot of interior shots prior to the Elle Decor feature, nearly 2-years after the house was finished. But Mark did show this: 

On his instagram, Mark sits on the stairs covered in a navy and natural striped sisal with Ruby, the pup of the house. Isn't she beautiful!? Oh the life she must lead! A navy and white dhurrie at her feet. The steel and glass doors of the pantry are on my must have list. I thought that this photo felt like quintessential Sikes - blue, pretty, California.

From the Elle Decor story posted by Mark to his instagram. Gotta love those Birkenstock mules!


A broader view of the space, more of the dhurrie, the chairs and antique table, but sadly no Ruby. Seriously, I think Ruby should have been in all the photos - I'm just saying. Precious girl. This felt like the Mark we have all come to know. So it was a pleasant surprise to see that he departed from the blue a bit when it came to the living room: 

There are still hints of blue, but the room is done mostly in shades of apricot, camel and cream. And it's beautiful. Naturally! I found a couple of screaming good deals on Amazon for pieces like Mark used that would give an updated feel to a traditional interior you've already got!  I wonder if this sunset had anything to do with his color choices? 

Again - glorious, captured by Brenner for the book and Landscape Architect's website.

Another view posted by Mark to his instagram, not featured in the Elle Decor magazine spread. This shows the beautiful rug a little more with its rich apricot and terracotta tones. 

A peek into the living room from the entry. Antiques mixed with modern accessories and beautiful fabrics. I really love this house. 

And from Elle, the dining room with wicker chairs soften with beautiful cushions in green, wheat, and blue (my new color palette at the apartment). I'm also gonna be buying some of those wooden bowls I've linked! How fun are they? 

There's more of the house in this issue of Elle Decor, including the beautiful bedrooms. So pop into your local story and grab a copy, or purchase the online version through Zinio. And if you're in need of more beauty from Mark, grab a copy of his book

More books featuring the photography of Marion Brenner: 

And purely my opinion, but the interiors featured in Mary's book are much more my taste than the one on the cover of Elle Decor. 

And if you can't get to a garden (or you live near me and a garden is covered by snow) you could always light one of these treasures: 


  1. Thanks for the shout out! I love this house. It's a great change from the blue and white and red he usually does.

  2. Oh my God - the garden, the house .... I must rush out and buy Elle Decor AND Private Gardens of the Bay Area.

  3. Thanks for all the Amazon links!

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