Inside the Jewel-Toned Home of a Globetrotting Designer
Inspired by her love for the beauty of the handmade, inveterate traveler and interior designer Maja Lithander Smith has filled her home with exquisite objects from around the world. After living abroad and traveling extensively, the repatriated expat and her family recently returned from several years in Tokyo to San Francisco, where they found a stylish four-story home in the Marina. The space showcases her wanderlust-infused design approach: Layered elements, vibrant hues, antiques, textures and the unexpected all reflect her love of travel and one-of-a-kind finds.
In the living room, bold swaths of color take center stage. Floor-to-ceiling emerald green silk window panels are a dramatic foil to a showstopping hand-blown Venetian chandelier. Smith, who always knew she wanted a Sputnik chandelier in that very spot, instantly acquired the vivid blue and green glass piece the minute she saw it at San Francisco designer Will Wick’s shop, Battersea. A jewel-green Holland & Sherry mohair covers a classic roll arm sofa that is surrounded by matte wood and glossy lacquer side tables. And by the expansive windows, a pair of delicate 18th-century Italian armchairs that have been with Smith as she moved from home to home flank a diminutive vintage bar cart side table.
Entertaining is a large part of Smith’s life. For this avid fund-raiser and advocate for children’s education, sharing her home with others brings her great joy. “I wanted to create an elegant and cool, dark and glamorous space for dinners,” explains Smith. Dining room walls are painted in Farrow & Ball’s deep Hague Blue; a custom smoky-glass-topped brass table seats 16; and a pair of aged industrial cabinets surround a clean-lined metal console. Above a built-in shelf hangs one of Smith’s favorite works in her collection, a Michael Wolf photo of Parisian rooftops.
For her tech entrepreneur husband, the designer turned their downstairs space into a masculine lounge with a mix of metals, complete with a spot for cocktails. A custom, elm-topped patinated brass-trimmed bar plays to the warm tones in the oak floors underfoot, and the vintage bar stools are covered in gray linen.
Of the master bedroom, Smith notes: “I’m Swedish, and this is the most Swedish room in the house.” A Gustavian remnant was the starting point in this space. “I love using an architectural element rather than a large headboard,” she explains. A Turkish lantern emits a dappled light against soft gray walls, and the bed is made with one of her Uzbeki textile pillows and an embroidered throw crafted by artisans in Jaipur. A gilt framed mirror and nickel swing arm lamp deliver a metallic gleam amid the found objects.
Smith, who owned a home decor boutique in Southern California before moving abroad, is returning to her retail roots this month when her chic new home boutique, Found by Maja, opens on Sacramento Street. Design objects, artifacts and architectural remnants will be on display in the jewel box of a store, ranging from rare Uzbeki textiles to Japanese indigo pillows. Always gracious and welcoming, Smith will now be able to invite San Francisco’s famously well-traveled residents to her neighborhood living room.
A version of this article appeared in the September 2016 issue of SFC&G (San Francisco Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: At Home with a World Traveler.