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HERE COMES THE ARTFUL SUN

By Jennifer Massoni Pardini

While we in the Bay Area are fortunate to enjoy ideal outdoor conditions in the middle of winter, there is still something divine about shaking of the chill of that season with the first spring dip in the pool or dinner out on the patio. One party of five has found the sun with the property they chose for building their family home in Orinda, completed with the help of designer Kriste Michelini of the down­town Danville-based firm Kriste Michelini Interiors, now adjacent to her new brick-and­mortar store, KM Home, which opened in November. “When we do our installs of all our projects, we style everything,” says Michelini, who shops constantly and previously ran out of storage. “It made sense to extend our brand, whether it’s gift items or accessories for our client’s homes. Because I really think people struggle with that a lot- how to finish their home,” she says. From coffee tables and bookshelves to decor for entryways, “having those things styled is icing on the cake;” she explains. And she’s seen it bring real joy to people looking to pick up tired corners of their homes.

A custom leather sectional in this cozy room. Fleet wood windows and doors were also used throughout the home.
A custom leather sectional in this cozy room. Fleet wood windows and doors were also used throughout the home.

Michelini, who grew up in Los Altos, says she works with clients in Atherton, Menlo Park and Los Altos Hills as often as those she collaborates with closer to home in the East Bay, an area that has also attracted a number of her San Francisco clients looking for more of those warm rays — and space. (According to the U.S. Postal Service, Alameda County is the leading destination for the City’s recent exodus, with Contra Costa County coming in fourth.) “They might have a 1,200-square-foot apartment,” Michelini says, “and now they’re buying a $4 or $5 million house. … They have a bistro table, a loveseat, and now they have to outfit the whole house.”

Modern and clean, this bathroom leans into geometry with Waterwork tiles, Hans Grohe Plumbing and contrasting Alape sinks.
Modern and clean, this bathroom leans into geometry with Waterwork tiles, Hans Grohe Plumbing and contrasting Alape sinks.

For this modern project, as with many of the family homes her firm undertakes, durability and longevity guided the design. “We want everything to hold up and look beautiful over time, not just great for a few weeks,” she says. “We use outdoor fabrics throughout all our projects to stand the test of time. The large main pieces are durable or wipeable to make a worry-free zone. Most of our clients are families, and even if they are older, they have grandchildren. I just think that’s wise no matter your age group.” The Scrabble pillows adorning a leather sofa for family gatherings achieve that durability while capturing the client’s love of graphic fonts. “She likes things to be whimsical and playful and not serious design,” Michelini says. “This is a great example of a high-low mix where you might have a really expensive piece fit in with something inexpensive.”

The mudroom's custom decalled cabinetry contains it all for this adventurous family.
The mudroom’s custom decalled cabinetry contains it all for this adventurous family.

That whimsy melds with a contemporary minimalist vibe that prioritizes the family and makes an aesthetic nod to their memories. In the concrete-tiled mudroom, travel photos adorn a galvanized barn door; in the playroom, a stenciled BURE NINE references a favorite Fijian summer surf escape (one of the boards lining the stairwell is from big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton). “When it’s more minimalist, you really need to be extremely selective in your choices,” Michelini says. “Because it’s not layered. Every piece counts.” The indoor-outdoor connection of the home was another conscious choice, with sliding doors that disappear to reveal ample space to play, rest and, when needed, seek the shade.

 

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