Designer Matthew Leverone Brings Understated Elegance to a Distinctive Atherton Home

Tucked into a serene, wooded enclave, a quietly grand Atherton residence embodies Coco Chanel’s maxim: “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.” The home’s minimal, elegant interiors, created by San Francisco designer Matthew Leverone, unfold in tranquil colors, simple lines and refined details. And while its easy elegance make it comfortable and livable for a family of five, Leverone notes of his clients, “They had a very strong direction and sense of style, and wanted a very clean look.” With their sensibility in mind, he also looked to the home’s transcendent setting for inspiration: A formal garden designed by noted landscape architect Andrea Cochran. The garden features an enchanting series of living spaces, and Leverone and the client’s vision began with bringing the outside in.

Installing dramatic, steel-framed, floor-to-ceiling windows on two walls of the family room was the first step toward achieving a synergy of indoor and out. The space is now bathed in light and intimately connected with the colors, sounds and forms of the garden. On warm days, the French doors can be opened up, and the musical sound of water trickling into the pool outside drifts gently in. Leverone selected the leather-wrapped, Christian Liaigre sofa because it was chic but comfortable, in keeping with the overall sensibility of the home.

“It’s so important to me to make a space that’s modern, but has sense of warmth and isn’t austere,” Leverone points out. His design is understated, yet subtly rich in detail. A quiet palette of creams and gray-browns showcases the delicate colors and patterning of natural materials like the mottled gray stone of the fireplace surround in the family room, the soft, meandering veining of the pale Calacatta marble used for the kitchen island and stove backsplash. Strong architectural lines add a graphic element to the space: the black window bars picked up by the incisions in the stone fireplace, the geometry of the gilded pendant that is suspended above the breakfast table, the illuminated edges of the “floating” ceiling.

In the family room, Leverone installed pale limestone flooring—the material also used to pave the area immediately around the house—to create a seamless transition between indoors and out. The room’s airy, spacious feel is enhanced by muted colors and the simple, refined lines of the furnishings. Leverone complemented works from the homeowners’ art collection with pieces whose forms and colors engage in a dialogue with the newly designed spaces.

In a moment of design telepathy, the designer found a coffee table in New York that he thought would be ideal for the family room. “The top was made from material that was once used to make telescope glass,” he explains, “one-and-a-half-inches thick, with a very slight ripple in it. I loved this table!” Before he’d had a chance to mention it to his clients, they excitedly showed him an image of it they’d found themselves. The table—more sculpture than furnishing—soon became an integral part of the new family room. Like everything in the interior, it has a modern sensibility and a quiet beauty—but is also meant to be used, lived with and enjoyed as part of the home’s fusion of utility and elegance.

A version of this article appeared in the September 2015 issue of San Francisco Cottages & Gardens with the headline: The Refined Eye.