Artist Aerie

Marin County, California

Project Details

  • Project: Artist Aerie
    Location: Marin County, California
    Architect: Gardner Dailey, adapted by Kathy Strauss

This client, a longtime friend, is a brilliantly talented and well-regarded photorealist painter living in Marin County with her husband.

When they began looking for a house in the San Francisco area where Linda could have her studio at home they found a 1938 Gardner Dailey house located on the crest of a hill. Credited with bringing modernist design to California, Dailey is a well-known architect who, among other projects, designed the Coral Casino in Santa Barbara. The house has an incredible provenance, views of Mount Tamalpais and the Golden Gate Bridge, and it was built in a time period I love.  The grounds of the house were designed by Thomas Church, one of the most influential landscape architects of the twentieth century, who frequently worked with Dailey when both were at the height of their careers.

Because the house was built in 1938, and since I have an affinity for antiques from the late 1930s and 1940s, I suggested that we acquire furnishings that would give the impression of having been collected from the time of the house’s construction until the present day. As is typical of Gardner Dailey houses, the entrance is a long, wide gallery with a glass wall looking out onto the view. On the other wall, the client displays her art, as well as works by some of their favorite artists. I love everything about the living room: the game table surrounded by leather upholstered Ruhlmann chairs, the Porteneuve-style console behind the sofa with red cloisonné lamps, and a late-Deco marquetry commode. One of the client’s paintings, Bingo, hangs over the fireplace, which is surrounded by custom bookcases designed by architect Kathy Strauss. Strauss was brought on by Linda and Charles to help adapt the house to their needs, and she did such careful and admirable work throughout, keeping architectural elements consistent and scrupulously considering Dailey’s principles at every turn. The seating area in front of the windows is precisely the kind of cozy, high style setting I try to create in all my designs. Lit by a Fontana Arte lamp, this spot is furnished with a comfortable silk velvet Paris Banquette, a round nickel-and-mirrored 1940s coffee table, and chairs attributed to Jean Rothschild. The effect is that of a room within a room. The final touch in the living room is a pair of Rothschild Club Chairs from my collection. Inspired and named for the work of designer Jean Rothschild, they are upholstered in stark black cowhide welted in white leather and are incredibly bold and handsome in that setting.  

The artist’s studio is just off the kitchen on the first floor of the house and looks out onto the swimming pool. She has a vast collection of antique and vintage toys and a variety of other objects that inspire her colorful work. The master bedroom has the same garden view as the dining room below, and it is truly like being in a tree house. We kept the room very simple with low bookcases beneath the windows and low late-Deco chairs in the corners. The leather and merisier headboard was custom made, and the client found small, mirrored bedside tables that fit the space. The clients love to entertain, and the house lends itself beautifully to that purpose. Their large guesthouse, called “the bunkhouse,” is completely disconnected from the main house, which means that they can easily host friends for overnight stays.