Is there anything more timeless than a black and white palette? Here’s a house that proves the point. Michelle Chan (she’s the senior editorial director at Banana Republic) and her husband, Jesse Zeifman (he’s the creative director of video at Apple), both work for iconic Bay Area companies known for their aesthetics. So it’s not a surprise that their own home, an 1880s Victorian in the Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, is both timeless and forward looking.
When the couple first moved in 10 years ago, the interiors were over-the-top Victorian (think plenty of gilded rosettes on the ceiling and painted clouds to boot). So how did they achieve such a serene interior? As Michelle says, “We kept the bones and whitewashed everything to lighten it up.” And for the black and white palette, she drew on her fashion background: “Black and white is always in style, and it’s effortless and easy.”
Above: Michelle Chan at home (she’s wearing a black top from Banana Republic); the midcentury leather chair is from Coup d’Etat in San Francisco. “The aesthetic of the house really reflects the Banana brand, a mix of modernity and soul,” she says. Framed on the wall is a poem by her mother-in-law, noted poet Norma Cole. The peacock feather scroll is by Tracy Kendall from Hollace Cluny in Toronto.
Above: The Charles Sofa, a modern classic, is by Antonio Citterio for B & B Italia (the couple opted for child-friendly dark gray wool upholstery). Michelle uses vintage shearling pillows in white and black to add texture and contrast. The round wooden table with brass inlay is a 1960s Mexican find from 1stdibs; the Dara Carpet is by Ben Soleimani for Restoration Hardware.
Above: The marble fireplace is original to the house. The Noguchi pendant reflected in the gilded mirror was from a local store in Japantown.
Above: On the coffee table: Japanese wooden spinning tops displayed in a rustic bowl and a vintage white Rosenthal vase.
Above: A view from the library to the living room. Michelle was inspired by the modern Victorian interiors in London and spent hours looking for the right shade of white paint; she finally settled on Benjamin Moore’s Dove White.
Above: A home office faces the garden at the rear of the house. Michelle paired two wooden desks back to back with Noguchi chairs and a midcentury floor lamp from Organic Modernism.
Above: When Michelle and her husband first moved in, the skylight was boarded over (they assumed it was because of water leakage). When they removed the board, they discovered that the owners had built over the roof line, blocking the light). They placed opaque glass in the skylight, restoring the upper landing to its former grandeur. The two Hampton Pendants are from Simon Pearce.
Above: The master bedroom features a minimalist gas fireplace that replaced the original brick one. A Noguchi pendant hangs over the bed. Upstairs, Michelle chose a different shade of white for the walls (to find the right color, she ended up having an exterior paint shade customized for the interior).
Above: The dressing room is Michelle’s favorite spot in the house. Before the couple renovated the upstairs, there was hardly any closet space, so Michelle was determined to build a huge walk-in closet. Instead, she capitalized on the light in a small extra bedroom and furnished it with Japanese tansu chests and a long bench (a jacket from Banana Republic is draped on top). A framed Noguchi print sits above on a shelf from Lekker home, which is where the Teak Wardrobes were also sourced.
Above: In Michelle’s dressing room, a white leather Dianne Tote Bag from Banana Republic rests against the tansu dresser; on the wall, a Ponte Modern Blazer and a Sparkle Stone Necklace hang on a set of Coatrack Dot Hooks by Muuto.
Above: The teak cabinet houses Michelle’s formidable collection of shoes and bags (including the Evan Satchel from Banana Republic). A hide-covered Corbusier chair sits on a seagrass carpet covered in a hide rug from Hudson Grace. “The dressing room feels a little bit indulgent,” Michelle says. “Some people have an enormous tub. I gave up a tub to accommodate larger closets. It’s a luxury to get dressed every day.”
Above: Half of their son’s bedroom is a play area. The playful wood Fujiya Floor Lamp is from CB2.