Space of the Week: This Staircase Gallery Wall Is a True Work of Art
As parents of three adult children, the owners of this Spanish-style home in the Presidio Heights neighborhood of San Francisco were used to changes and new phases. They had been through the diapers and dioramas, the first-job applications and long-awaited graduations. But the phase they hadn't yet experienced was something rather bittersweet: What happens after all three of their kids moved out.
"They're enjoying a new phase of life," says Regan Baker, the principal of a namesake design firm. "It became a great juncture to evolve their home and tell a story of the family's time together over the years."
The original staircase was encased in a dark wood trim with an off-white paint on the walls that tinted yellow. Traditional sconces, a runner, and a bench matched that more subdued palette, and although sunlight streamed through, the space was mostly shadowed. The couple set forth on a full house renovation that prioritized bright patterns in a contemporary design, pulling color inspiration from the city's famed Golden Gate Bridge and sparkling bay below. The staircase might have been an afterthought considering the scope of this project, but Baker and these owners weren't going to let it fade into the background.
"Transitional areas are important because they are where design components come together in one visible space, making them a natural focal point," Baker says. "It's usually where architectural elements shine."
Baker and her team painted the walls and stair risers in Benjamin Moore's White Heron and covered all of the wooden trim in the slightly darker Tapestry Beige. They picked out black Pottery Barn frames in various sizes to match the raven-colored rails, and then stained a nearby bench to bring out its metallic details. Finally, modern sconces incorporated a sculptural element to the walls. "The decorative bench and updated sconces invited conversation," Baker adds.
As for the photos, they filled the frames with the only images that felt right. "We added the family's lineage to these walls," Baker says. "There are ancestry photos of grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great grandparents. We loved the idea of using a gallery wall for their guests to have talking points as they climbed up the staircase."
Baker is proud to have refreshed the home without losing its heart, and when it comes to this staircase in particular, she's glad she gave it the attention it deserved. "Adorning the walls with their history unexpectedly activated this transitional space and created a 'room' with a point of view," she says. "This staircase really helps to weave a story from floor to floor."