Dara Rosenfield Designs a Nob Hill Pied-á-Terre for Carpet Couturier Mark Nelson
"I wanted a luxury hotel suite,” says couture carpet designer Mark Nelson of his first Bay Area home, a petite pied-à-terre atop Nob Hill. He achieved the look and feel of a sumptuous little suite with the help of noted Bay Area interior designer Dara Rosenfeld. Together, the duo transformed a 450-square-foot space into a jewel box of urbane textures and hues, finally giving New York–based Nelson—who for years has traveled regularly to San Francisco to provide exquisite bespoke carpets to the A-list of the city’s interior designers—a stylish residence in San Francisco.
Longtime collaborators and friends, Nelson trusted Rosenfeld’s aesthetic so completely that he put in a bid on the light-filled property sight unseen, based solely upon her recommendation. (A devoted foodie, Nelson was also seduced by the building’s proximity to b. patisserie and Bi-Rite.) The result of their six-month collaboration is a sophisticated space that is serene, intimate and, importantly, turnkey, for the bicoastal designer.
“I grew to love this city—the serious design community that share my aesthetic, my group of friends, all of the fantastic restaurants,” says Nelson. “I wanted a place here to call home.”
To maximize usable space, Rosenfeld conceived of a custom series of hidden closets, utilitarian cubbies and a Murphy bed—complete with bedside tables—that seamlessly merges into the wall. Recessed lighting casts a sleek glow, while custom-made, wall-to-wall European carpets (in a weave that, says Nelson, “looks like a sisal, but with more depth”) were chosen to make the room appear larger. And a stylish, art-filled work niche features a cantilevered walnut desk, with all cords and cables neatly tucked out of the way.
Since the home looks out onto city rooftops, “I wanted colors and finishes that mimicked the light of the dusk in San Francisco,” says Nelson. Rosenfeld adds, “The term ‘greige’ is often overused, but the color works beautifully here, especially when paired with hints of plum and lavender.” She began by wrapping the space in a smoky gray Soie wallpaper by Elitis, and then extended the colorway into sumptuous fabrics: drapes in Osborne & Little’s Oscura woven strié fabric in a khaki hue; sofa upholstered in DeLany & Long Neptune Velvet in Driftwood; and a set of dining chairs in a fine mohair—“our ultimate treasure-hunt find,” says Nelson.
An eclectic mix of contemporary pieces and fine antiques gives the apartment its unique flair. A clean-lined Paul Evans coffee table with silver and gold accents serves as a focal point for the room; a 1950s T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings slipper chair provides a swank spot for reading; a classic Paul McCobb dresser adjoins the sofa; and a striking 1960s French amethyst lamp sourced from Lebreton Gallery adds texture and subtle hue.
“I trust Dara implicitly, so this was the easiest transaction ever,” says Nelson of the renovation. “I was looking for an understated, comfortable environment—with nothing flashy—that I could call my home away from home. This apartment is the yin to my New York yang.”
A version of this article appeared in the September 2015 issue of San Francisco Cottages & Gardens with the headline: Little Luxuries.