C California Style

Frosted glass kitchen windows keep the area bright, but still private.
The master suite is covered in hundreds of yards of Gretchen Bellinger gauffraged velvet, heat-stamped into vertical lines.
A shell-encrusted table by Fisher Weisman.
A modern take on a serape, the living room rug reverses the design of that in the dining area.
Even the dressing room is airy and spacious.
A view-facing bay window nook with eggshell lacquered garden stools that function as movable cocktail tables.
A quiet space in the bedroom.
Andrew Skurman Architects installed the foyer's stone inlay.
Skylights illuminate the contrast between parquet flooring and glowing white walls.
Dining room chairs are Michael Taylor; a Venetian Fortuny light fixture hangs above; Matisse prints add a graphic, modern statement.

Lightness of Being

by C California Style

Design team Fisher Weisman transforms a Pacific Heights penthouse into an atmospheric retreat.

Maybe it’s the serene shades of milky white that coat the paneling throughout the space, or the hundreds of yards of pearly velvet now engulfing the master suite; the temptation to compare this Pacific Heights penthouse to a walk through the clouds proves too much to resist. The elegant, two-story apartment glows like San Francisco’s famous summer light filtered through a soft blanket of marine layer thanks to celebrated designers Andrew Fisher and Jeffry Weisman.

“It’s an old French technique to take paneled rooms and make them flat with paint,” explains Weisman by phone in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where the partners are finishing a residence and a boutique hotel. While the apartment, set in a 1920s Beaux-Arts building designed by Conrad Meussdorffer, had recently been through an impeccable remodel from Andrew Skurman Architects, the interiors were dark. Filled with faux finishes and elaborate draperies, the effect was too fussy for its owners’ more modern sensibility. “The goal was to keep it sophisticated but not to make it fancy. Creamy whites totally changed the atmosphere.”

The new owners, who recently sold their company on the East Coast and moved to S.F. to become philanthropists, were in good hands. The designers’ debut monograph, Artful Decoration: Interiors of Fisher Weisman ($50; Monacelli Press), features 13 gorgeous residences showcasing similar accomplishments in urban apartments like this one, and sprawling Sonoma estates alike.

Fisher and Weisman have been partners since 1996. They founded their design business in 2000 after surviving the “enormous challenge” of decorating their shared Nob Hill apartment. Since then, they’ve acquired a home in wine country, an eclectic treehouse, and the Mexico retreat, and together they’ve decorated dozens of properties for Bay Area residents such as Robin Williams. In March, they launched casaacanto.com, a website that sells a collection of tables—end, cocktail, indoor and outdoor dining and writing desks—some tabletop items and their iconic gilded toad. (“It’s made of rubber, but it’s actually dipped in gold,” says Fisher. “It’s a touch of whimsy that’s become a signature for us.”)

While Fisher Weisman’s style, and their propensity for Fortuny lamps and kidskin upholstery, can’t be described as understated, their eye is very disciplined. The limited color palette and somewhat spare furnishings in this home reflect that. “The layout in the living room and dining room is unusual in that there are two separate areas in each—one for entertaining on a smaller scale versus a larger adjacent space,” Weisman explains. The formal dining table, custom made of dark walnut with a gold-leafed base, expands to seat 12, and the cozier nook next to it seats six.

In the living room, a tranquil sitting area in the bay window is the couple’s favorite spot for coffee and a newspaper in the morning and for hosting cocktails in the evening, it also opens to a proper entertaining space with a sleek, limestone mantel and sculptural tables with plush, inviting seating for a crowd.

“The room that gets the most use during the day contains lighter carpet, and the room that gets the most use at night holds the darker,” Fisher says, explaining the symmetry of the layout. “It’s a unique and glorious apartment. It’s now an airy refuge.”

Written by Christine Lennon
Photographed by François Dischinger
Images courtesy of © Artful Decoration: Interiors of Fisher Weisman by Andrew Fisher and Jeffry Weisman, Published by Monacelli Press.