At Home With

At Home With Holly Peterson

By Anh-Minh Le

Holly Peterson descends the staircase of her Presidio Heights home wearing a FITE top and a Rochas skirt. (Annie Barnett)

In her century-old residence, the fashion designer keeps things playful and posh.

When it came time for Holly Peterson to assemble the latest look book for FITE, her emerging line of luxury tees, location scouting wasn’t too challenging. That’s because a perfect venue was right in front of her: the Presidio Heights manse by architect Julia Morgan that she and husband, Karl, along with their 12-year-old twins, Karter and Kennedy, have called home for the past year.

With approximately 12,000 square feet across three levels, plus a backyard with views of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge, there are plenty of spots for a photographer to set up. A white T-shirt-and-jeans ensemble, in proximity to a pair of red heels, pops against the media room’s leopard-print sectional. A powder room lined in Martinique banana leaf wallpaper — a motif made famous by the Beverly Hills Hotel — also offers an arresting photo op. Then there’s the karaoke room, where a fringed and tufted Tiffany-blue velvet sofa that spans nearly the length of the space is the backdrop fora model wearing a FITE scoop-neck, short-sleeve T-shirt under a metallic dress.

That dress, says Holly, was the impetus for FITE, which is available online (, as well as at Betty Lin in San Francisco and Romi Boutique in Palo Alto. “I was looking for a really pretty T-shirt that I could wear underneath dresses, so I could wear them during the day — kind of dress them down and utilize these expensive dresses that I was only wearing at night or for special occasions,” she explains. “I couldn’t find one, so I set out with a friend of mine to make one. Other friends said that they would love to have one, too, so I started making a few just for my friends.”

In her closet, Peterson, dressed in a Blumarine vest and an Andrew GN skirt, surveys her shoe collection. (Annie Barnett)

In 2017, she launched FITE – a portmanteau of “fitted” and “tee” — with a cashmere-and-modal scoop-neck style in black, white and navy. The collection has broadened to camisoles and tank tops, crewnecks and V-necks, short-sleeves and long-sleeves. Linen pieces debuted last year, and this fall FITE introduces three new colors: gray, green and burgundy. The tops are made at a family-owned factory in Los Angeles and, Holly notes, checks the boxes for a great tee: flattering, long lasting, versatile, machine washable and sustainably made (the latter has become an increasing priority for the brand). “Buying fewer quality items really does have an impact on your wardrobe and the environment, so buy the T-shirt that goes with everything,” says Holly, whose headquarters are located in the Presidio, a short drive from her house.

The house is, of course, much more than just a cool set for photo shoots: It’s where the Petersons are laying down roots after seven years in London. Holly, formerly a real estate agent, met Karl 15 years ago, when the then-CEO of the travel site Hotwire was house hunting. Before they began dating, she sold him a house in Cow Hollow. “We started going out as friends for a while,” she recalls, “and that blossomed into romance.” They married in 2006 — according to Holly, their reception at the de Young Museum was the institution’s first after it opened in Golden Gate Park — and bought the place in Presidio Heights in 2009. By this time, Karl was back at TPG, the private equity firm where he had worked prior to co-founding Hotwire. Less than a year after the family moved in, TPG tapped him to head its European operations, which meant decamping to London.

An Anish Kapoor work above the fireplace and a blue DS-600 sofa by de Sede are
among the living room’s standout elements. (Annie Barnett)

While they were living abroad, the Petersons initially rented out the house. Then in 2015, they offered it up for the San Francisco Decorator Showcase, the annual fundraiser for University High School’s financial aid program that involves dozens of designers transforming a dwelling. A year later, upon returning to San Francisco — where Karl is now managing partner of TPG Pace — their plan was to renovate the house and then move back in. Following the two-year renovation, only a few elements from the Showcase remain, including the dining room’s striking wall panels that Cecilie Starin commissioned San Francisco street muralist Ian Ross to create, and the master bath’s graphic floor tile arrangement by Tineke Triggs of Artistic Designs for Living.

For the revamped interiors, Holly enlisted the London-based designer Samantha Todhunter, who also did the Petersons’ residences in London and Aspen. The rooms on the ground floor now share a palette of blues and grays. The family spends the most time in the open-plan kitchen and family room, which boast access to the outdoors. “The kids are doing homework, Karl’s watching the news, we’re eating dinner and just talking about the day,” says Holly of the multifunctional area. “And it opens out onto the deck and we can eat outside if it’s nice enough.”

Peterson, in a Balmain blazer, kept the Ian Ross mural from the Decorator Showcase, mating
it with a series by artist Mr. Brainwash. (Annie Barnett)

Upstairs, among the enviable spaces are the generously sized his and hers dressing rooms: Karl’s is painted a glossy dark teal, while Holly’s is white and bright (it’s her favorite room in the house). Also on this level is his home office, featuring rosy-hued lacquered walls and built-ins — and where a pair of silkscreens from Andy Warhol’s Dollar Signs series hangs. The home’s blue-chip art collection is in Karl’s purview. In the living room, above the fireplace, Roy Lichtenstein’s Nude With Blue Hair was swapped out last month for a newly acquired Anish Kapoor sculpture. Nearby is a work from David Hockney’s The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in2011 installation. On display in a hallway, a Barnaby Barford mirror entitled Gluttony, part of his The Seven Deadly Sins, is composed of ceramic flowers that incorporate takeaway food menus.

Even with so much compelling art and design to take in, the karaoke room succeeds in standing out. How could it not, with its rose-gold disco balls, John Robshaw block-printed textile on the walls and good-time vibes? Holly, who loves to sing along to Tom Petty, chose to have a karaoke room over a gym. (Hence, her Peloton resides in the media room.) Top to bottom, inside and out, the house reflects its owners’ personalities to a T. “This is definitely who we are,” says Holly. “It’s very grown up and classic, but also comfortable and super fun.”

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