An interior designer's warm and layered San Francisco terraced house

Having set her heart on buying within a small area in the smart Cow Hollow neighbourhood of San Francisco, interior designer Lauren Weiss was delighted to find the perfect house and set about using a warm palette to make the most of the California light in this three-storey terrace

The upside – much to Lauren’s delight – was that it gave her the chance to ‘sneak through’ a few more decorative changes. ‘Because the house is sandwiched in a terrace, we get light only at the front and at the back, so I wanted to bring in more where I could,’ she explains. Lauren kept the colours fresh throughout to create an airy feel. These include an earthy pink for the formal sitting room, a warm white for the family room and a taupe grasscloth for the attic bedroom. Wood floors were painted white, while the windowless dining room, which leads onto the family room, was fitted with panelling – designed to provide a background for a pair of large Chinese ancestor portraits inherited from Eli’s grandmother – and painted in a soft green gloss. ‘It’s lovely in candlelight, but also reflects the light that comes through from the family room in the day,’ she enthuses. The kitchen remained largely unchanged, bar the new cooker hood, handles for the units and simple white tiles for the splashback.

Aside from these interventions, much of Lauren’s energy was focused on furnishing the space. ‘Because of the layout, it felt like I was creating a British townhouse. So this became my guiding inspiration,’ she explains. This influence came to the fore in the choice of fabrics and wallpapers. Robert Kime’s ‘Sunburst’ wallpaper enlivens the ceiling in the entrance hall, while Lauren responded to her younger daughter’s plea for a ‘princess bed’ with the length of pretty Penny Morrison fabric that hangs majestically in her room. In the main bedroom, the bed is flanked by panels of de Gournay wallpaper, giving the effect of an extended headboard and making the most of the high ceiling.

Panelling in Farrow & Ball’s ‘Blue Gray’ sets off a pair of Chinese ancestor portraits inherited by Lauren’s husband Eli.

Sam Frost

Much of the furniture came from Europe. ‘I find that what you can get from European suppliers is just superior,’ explains Lauren, who sourced most of the pieces via websites like 1stDibs and Vinterior. ‘I like to have a mix of designs from different periods.’ In the family room, for instance, a leather Arne Norell sofa – which was brought over from Paris and was initially fragrant with cigarette smoke – is juxtaposed with a traditional armchair and a set of sculptural wooden side tables by Brooklyn design studio Fort Standard.

In the more formal sitting room, a new sofa from Cisco Home sits gracefully alongside one by Swedish designer Carl Malmsten and a sculptural fibreglass chair by Vico Magistretti. ‘My approach is all about combining elements to give spaces a layered feel,’ says Lauren. ‘I wanted every piece I chose to be beautiful, but also practical.’ Much like the whole house.