When Sherry Hope-Kennedy first visited this picturesque Victorian, which sits on a quaint block in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood, she noticed that one room seemed slightly off. “The kitchen felt dated and out-of-place” in the historic structure, says Hope-Kennedy, the founder of Bay Area interiors firm Studio SHK. So she set to work learning about her client, a recent divorcée and ex-New Yorker, to create “a space that works.”
The interior she crafted balances a sense of moody sophistication with Californian escapism. The former touches are unmistakable: a stormy silver marble backsplash, smoked-glass cabinets, and ebony-stained flooring. But with the benefit of floor-to-ceiling windows and airy furnishings, they get washed in a dazzling natural light that imbues the entire space with a sunny ambience. Hope-Kennedy’s highly considered approach makes the result feel cohesive, timeless, and respectful of the historic structure’s provenance. Below, she talks about how she made it happen.
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Inspiration: I wanted to bring California’s laid-back style to my client, a recent divorcée who had relocated from New York to San Francisco. She found a charming Victorian in Pacific Heights, but its kitchen felt dark, dated, and out-of-place. We worked together to design a lighter, more updated look that befits the architecture while feeling timeless. I was greatly inspired by the historic Victorians found in Pacific Heights.
Blueprint: We transformed the kitchen into a light-filled modern gathering space ideally suited for cooking or relaxing. The galley-style floor plan balances sultry surfaces with materials selected to reflect and pull in light. Awash in silver wave stormy marble pattern, the intricate multi-hued black, grey, bronze, and white veining complements crisp white cabinetry and matte-black pulls. Smoked-glass upper cabinets bounce light, ebony-stained herringbone wood flooring establishes moody elegance, and the backsplash serves as a mesmerizing focal point. Adding to the refined ambience is a sun-drenched breakfast nook outfitted with clean-lined geometries, such as a Tulip Table by Eero Saarinen and airy mid-century chairs. Classic millwork and trimming respect the Victorian architecture and directly engages with the rest of the house.
Challenges: My client wanted to live in the home during construction! Besides that, the home’s age and inconsistent measurements proved difficult. The differential could be as much as two inches from one end of the wall to the next.
Uniqueness: The double-cylinder range hood adds a dash of drama. In addition to looking futuristic, the dual exhaust system breaks up what would have been a wall of stainless steel if we sourced a more traditional hood. It’s form, function, and style mixed into one.
Takeaway: Victorian architecture doesn’t need to be associated with one single era. A contemporary kitchen can engage with period architecture while still feeling unified overall. Natural materials and a minimal color palette lend itself to a variety of architectural styles. When working within a restrained material palette, being bold enables you to achieve a refined look appropriate to the architecture.
Impact of Project: Knowing the client is key to creating spaces that work. People often embark on renovation projects to start anew, so understanding all aspects of their lives—what they enjoy, where they want to grow, and their personal taste—affords results that feel like an extension of who they are.
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