Inspired by Mackintosh & Art Deco

Its eclectic facade inspired the owners of this San Francisco house; they honored original interior features but also included colorful flourishes from well into the 20th century.

An Arts & Crafts aesthetic is strong in the dining room, with its original oak woodwork. 

Fanciful is one way to describe this house, where Arts & Crafts-era features like oversize brackets and corbels, a chalet roof, and transomed Glasgow windows are joined by such Moresque details as the entry arch, framed window, and tile-work. Owners Cynthia and Allen Koster have preserved the historic fabric inside and out and have furnished the house tastefully with collections from different periods.

The dining room has an American A&C aesthetic, while the entry, living room, and white stair hall allude to Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the proto-Modern Scots designer. The hall sets the theme of the Kosters’ collecting: The couple created a three-dimensional frieze of Art Deco teapots and pitchers manufactured by the Hall Pottery Company of Ohio. It runs around the entry and dining room. “Collections can become a little obsessive,” confesses Allen. “Especially the Hall china: 125 pieces!”


Furniture in the house is in keeping with a historical Arts & Crafts sense; the dining room table and chairs, for example, blend with the original clear-finished woodwork. But the Kosters have transcended period design-by-rote. “The front hall is an eclectic collection,” Allen acknowledges, “but our preferences seem consistent and work well together.”

The entry hall suggests London more than the Bay Area. Black Mackintosh-designed chairs are graphic statements against the long-ago-painted trim. Collected Hall pottery on the plate rail creates a frieze. Art Deco fixtures are used throughout.

Finding the appropriate lighting was a challenge. In the hall, a slipper-shade Art Deco hanging fixture is close enough to the ceiling to hide bulbs from someone on the stairs. The Kosters have collected such fixtures from as far away as Australia, and had them rebuilt to accept U.S. sockets.

Color is carried upstairs, with muted hues on the walls and floors, sharply offset by bright splashes from framed prints. More of the pottery collection appears here as well. “The 1930s pottery is bright, which meant the palette overall had to be paler,” says the owner–architect. The house does not seek to re-create a moment in history. The robust and historic first floor is coherent with the more contemporary second level.


Tags: arts & crafts Old-House Interiors Dan Cooper art deco OHI March/April 2010 Carolyn Bates Charles Rennie Mackintosh San Francisco

By Dan Cooper

Dan Cooper has written and published two books on architecture, a serialized novella about old house restoration and over 1,000 national magazine articles on the subjects of antiques, historic interiors and architecture. He has contributed to Old House Journal, Period Homes, Traditional Building, Old House Interiors, Antique Homes, Early Homes, Cottage and Bungalows, Victorian Homes and dozens of other publications.

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