A 1933 Tudor-style home set on two acres in Hillsborough, California, outside San Francisco, was in need of a top-down renovation to accommodate a family of five. Its owners, Holly and Rich Lawson, tapped longtime friend and collaborator, designer Ken Fulk, for the undertaking. “When they found this extraordinary property, they called me to preview it with them,” explains Fulk. “Of course, I was instantly mesmerized by the grand old estate.” Fulk worked tirelessly to maintain the old-world elegance and comfort of the interiors while injecting modern updates and a fresh energy. “They wanted to honor the history of the property but also update it with amenities suitable for a young family,” says Fulk.
The Lawsons were eager to create more indoor/outdoor living spaces for casual use and entertaining, so opening up rooms was
a necessary first step. “While it’s certainly a comfortable family abode, it’s also tailor-made for entertaining on a grand scale,” says Fulk. “The house is the epicenter of daily life and filled with extended family and friends. It’s the site of frequent gatherings, whether impromptu or elaborately planned affairs.” The trick was not to lose the formality and gentility of the home, because those qualities spoke to the owners. “We were determined to maintain the traditional aspects while not having it feel stodgy or too old-fashioned,” says Fulk.
Led by Ken Fulk, Inc. senior designer Douglas Slayton, the team created interiors with a graphic monochromatic palette peppered with pops of color. Antiques from the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as vintage mid-century finds and contemporary pieces, now fill the home. “We mixed furnishings from a variety of eras while keeping a cohesive feel,” explains Fulk. The entryway, which overlooks the grounds, now showcases a bold, geometric Stark Carpet runner. In the dining room, the walls are covered in Maya Romanoff marquetry veneer, and in the powder room, a hand-painted botanical de Gournay wall covering steals the show. Upstairs, the master bedroom got special attention thanks to the team’s discovery of a hidden vaulted space above the dropped ceiling. “We literally took the lid off the room, exposing the rafters and expressing the glorious volume of the space,” says Fulk. Now, there are inset panels in the vaulted ceiling finished in a lustrous silvery gold.
It’s a throwback, for sure, but a successful one. Fulk always loves a nod to the past, and this house has that in spades. “The homeowners and I share a romance for bygone eras,” says Fulk. “And there is definitely a Gatsby-esque quality to the place. It’s easy to imagine Daisy Buchanan holding court on the back terrace.”